“Back Around the Table”
We Catholics take our sacraments seriously. The old Baltimore Catechism definition memorized as children approached first communion in the fifties is still good. “An outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.” This weekend we honor the Catholic “Sacramental” imagination that sees God’s divine presence in ordinary things like: oil, water, bread and wine. We celebrate from last weekend’s feast of the Trinity, that grace available to people of faith in the most ordinary details of human life.
A daily family meal feels like a tradition disappearing quickly in American homes. There was a public service ad a few years back that advertised an imaginary product for parents. It was a gadget that temporarily handicapped all electronics in the home. One family found themselves at the table for an evening meal when TV, computers, cell phones and video games all ceased functioning. It is tough for all us to fast from these gadgets long enough to join each other around the table. But the payoff is magnificent. The table is the foundational human ritual that prepares us for other sacramental things. It Is hard to understand the Eucharist without it. These days of Covid 19 have put many traditional and non-traditional families back around their tables.
When Yolanda and Eddie Garcia make a meal for the friars, they always decorate the table with flowers and little candles. Fr. Vince refinished an old library table that had been in our rec-rom for generations with magazines and newspapers spread all over it. Cigarette burns marked the surface of this very heavy long table. And stains from spilled coffee and drinks. Moving it to the dining room was no easy feat. It is a sacred table. Now with its beautiful oversized wood chairs, it is at its best when we linger around it for a long time after a tasty meal. We friars are most family to each other then.
Catholics with their imaginations shaped by angels and saints, holy water and incense, applaud this “cult” of the family table. It only takes two to eat well. But even one person alone at a table can bless our Provident God who provides us food and makes our lives food for others. So decorate those tables. Have a meal with someone that takes your breath away, a glass of wine or other favorite libation that it is so good as the psalms say, it “gladdens the hearts of men (and women).” We become what eat at the Eucharistic table, inspired and empowered for service and for witnessing to the goodness and compassionate care of God.
With open hands we gather this weekend to celebrate the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. It invites us to clear a space and transform some of our culture’s fast food customs and to go back to a sacred table with someone. It signifies an attitude of openness and gratitude fed by the Bread of Life from the table of the Lord and even at the tables in our own homes.
Thanks for all the generosity that flows from the Lord’s Table here at St. Mary’s. From the sacred garden to the food boxes of St. Vincent de Paul, from our delightful celebration of St. Anthony in the plaza to the generous smiles of volunteers in our office, from our catechists and RCIA sponsors to those now receiving Confirmations and First communion these early summer days. We plan to honor the Sacred Heart at our noon Mass on Friday from the oldest Sacred Heart statue in any Phoenix church. These nurture our communion again after all these weeks. Join us.
A gentle week.
Fr. Michael Weldon, OFM