This article was posted on: June 19, 2023

When I was studying canon law at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, I took a course taught by a memorable French-Canadian professor by the name of Monsignor Roch Pagé, a priest of the Diocese of Chicoutimi, Quebec.

One day, while teaching about the presbyteral council in a diocese, Monsignor Pagé stopped and wanted to go on an excursion. We had been reading from the Second Vatican Council’s “Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests” (Presbyterorum ordinis). The decree states, “Bishops should be glad to listen to their priests’ views and even consult them and hold conference with them about matters that concern the needs of pastoral work and the good of the diocese. But for this to be reduced to practice, a group or senate of priests should be set up.…”

Monsignor Pagé questioned us: “What is this ‘this’ in the quotation above?” He pressed the question more firmly: “What is the context of this ‘this’?” We answered that it must refer to bishops consulting their priests about the needs of the diocese. While he agreed, he asked us to think about another “this” in our Faith: “Do this in memory of me.”

In the sacrifice of the Mass, the priest makes present again and applies, until the coming of the Lord, the unique sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. (cf CCC #1566) This is, of course, the strict meaning of “Do this in memory of me.” Nevertheless, Monsignor Pagé suggested that we add something to this meaning: pondering that Jesus says to us, “Do all I did in my life to do this.” That is, to die.

Monsignor Pagé told us that he once preached this to a convent of contemplative nuns. One of the nuns came up to him after his preaching and said, “Father, I will spend hours meditating on what you said.” Then she asked for clarification, “Did you mean all of what Jesus did and said—helping the poor, curing the ill etc.—if you do not do this in memory of Him, you are not qualified to say Mass and to receive the Eucharist?” Monsignor Pagé replied, “Yes, I do this in memory of Him.”

During the Eucharistic Revival in our country, we ought to meditate on what the Eucharist means to us and what it calls us to in our lives. Bishop Andrew Cozzens, chairman of the Bishops’ Advisory Group for the Eucharistic Revival has written: “Because [Jesus] said, ‘Do this in memory of me,’ and gave the power to His apostles to stand in His person at the altar and re-present His own sacrifice, all of us, by virtue of our baptismal priesthood, are able to unite our sufferings, our joys, our sacrifices big and little, to the one true sacrifice of Christ. When we come to understand this, Mass becomes also the summit of our life where the daily gift of our life for Jesus takes on true meaning.” (Magnificat, January 2023)

When we truly come to understand what living a eucharistic life means, we come to understand that this this” is not just remembering Jesus and what He did but the memorial of Christ: of His life, of His death, of His resurrection and of His intercession in the presence of the Father. (cf CCC #1341) Living a eucharistic life allows us to unite everything we have—joys and hopes, griefs and anxieties—to our Lord. Living a eucharistic life allows us to put the Eucharist where it should be—at the center of our lives and the Church’s life.

The Eucharistic Revival is meant to inspire and prepare us to be formed, healed, converted, united and sent out to a hurting and hungry world through a renewed encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist. The Second Vatican Council taught that every ministry of the Church and every work of the apostolate are tied together with the Eucharist and are directed toward it. All of us are therefore invited and encouraged to offer ourselves, our labors and all created things, together with Jesus. (Presbyterorum ordinis, 5) In other words, to live a eucharistic life. As a result, from every Mass we, the pilgrim people of God, advance, following the narrow way of the cross toward the heavenly banquet. (cf CCC #1344)Monsignor Pagé ended his excursion by asking: “What led Jesus to do this the first time? His sacrifice. If I do not keep all this in my memory, I am not sure I am qualified to say Mass and to receive holy Communion. This is my own conviction.” Perhaps it should be ours as well.

Father Alan Guanella
Pastor of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in Wisconsin Rapids
Published in the May/June 2023 issue of Catholic Life Magazine

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