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Saturday, August 1, 2015

Food for the journey

LOTR - why it's awesome.  It's very Catholic.  If you think the C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia is a great series (which by the way is much more than just children's literature), then I can assure you that J.R.R. Tolkien's masterpiece is even better.  Searching for lists online, I found it to be the second best-selling novel in the English language in the 20th century.  I truly can't say enough good about this book because I love the author.  And frankly, in some ways, I think some of his other writings are better than Lord of the Rings in many ways, and I'm not talking about the Hobbit.

J.R.R. Tolkien went to weekday Mass regularly, as well as Eucharistic Adoration, which we have at 7pm this week.  It was in Adoration, in fact, that he was inspired with the central idea of his novel.  So don't let anyone say Adoration is a waste of time, because he earned a lot for his fidelity to this form of prayer, and ultimately, it brought a lot of hearts closer to God, mine included, because without this man's prayer life, we wouldn't have Lord of the Rings today.

Two friends on a long journey. This journey will end up becoming an important mission, and in fact the most difficult thing they will ever do, with their lives on the line again and again. From day one, they are slowly stripped of every comfort. Slowly they step further and further from their own country into a world much bigger than the little one they lived in.  One bit at a time they grow stronger and stronger interiorly so that they no longer complain about their hunger or soreness.  Slowly they learn to rely more and more on the essentials, most importantly on their trust in each other, and the life necessities of water and bread. Special bread called "lembas" or "waybread" - literally food for the road, the journey.

That bread would fortify a grown man for a full day's work, or in this case, for the two companion's journey across mountains and into enemy territory.  We see the exact same thing in the readings today: food for the journey.  If the story of Israel can be seen to symbolize the story of every Christian soul, then just as they needed food on their journey to the promised land, so too do we need the Eucharist to make our journey to heaven.
One of the interesting things about the lembas bread was that its power would increase when not eaten with other foods.  This reminds me of what Jesus said today: Do not work for food that perishes
but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.  The more we rely only on Jesus alone to satisfy our souls, the stronger the Eucharist will effect us.

But unfortunately we live in a society focused on consumerism.  We buy one product and consider it obsolete after a few weeks.  We enjoy one experience, throw it away, and look for the next.  Sometimes we do this with God and our spiritual life as well.  We go to Mass and then we are done and move on to the next thing.  We consume God in the Eucharist instead of letting God consume us in the Eucharist.

Saint Paul's "new man" in Ephesians.  Transformation.
you must no longer live as the Gentiles do... you should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.

We are supposed to be transformed by the Eucharist.  Change the way our consumerist culture makes you think about coming to Mass.  It's not about entertainment.  It's not about a neat experience or punching a time-card.  It's about letting Jesus transform you into who you were meant to be, so that you can make it through the journey ahead.  Open your hearts to Him today and let Him consume you.

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