Friendship: A Eucharistic Reflection

Friendship: A Eucharistic Reflection

Friendship is a vital part in the spiritual journey as the heart of the whole. It was not easy for me make friends growing up. I did not fit in easily and was precocious, sensitive, and timid as a kid. My first real friends helped me to grow as a person. I remember my friend Alfredo De La Cruz. We met when we were both in Catholic Grade School. He introduced me to his family and they accepted me as one of their own. He taught me so much about friendship and life. With his friendship I could begin to open myself in trust. I see now how this helped me to grow in love and trust towards others. I see friendship as a priceless gem in my life. I see it as something of the highest worth, not to be given lightly and not to be hidden away either. The more one grows in friendship the more one grows in trust. In my relationships with other people I often ask myself if they really know me and I really know them. This is so important to me because I want to be authentic. I want to give the best of myself to other people. Friendship is anything and still not real without this true authenticity. Without it I am lost. I look back on my friendship with the La Cruz family and see the real dynamic of trust at work. It is a dynamic because it is always growing. A friend can come and go and still his impression stays with you. So it is with my friendships. I want to always leave the best of myself with the other person. I am so happily relieved that people I have known were more often than not the ones who left a good imprint on my soul. 

So I come to the great loss of my best friend from childhood, Alfredo. Alfredo had been with me since I was in Preschool. I had been invited to the La Cruz home since I was 5 years old in 1995. Now he was gone. He went missing after he graduated college. This loss struck me by just how surreal it was. I have known him for over twenty years.  I cannot say how I feel. I am just in disbelief that someone I have known for years could be gone. I take this often to prayer. Many people lose those who are close to them and then come to terms with it. I have struggled to understand this. I turn back to prayer again and again. I come to Mass and pray for Alfredo and his family. I keep a picture of us when we were young. I know that he will come home one day. In this life or the next he will find peace. Friendship is one of the greatest joys of life and it is a most necessary thing for life to flourish. Where would I be without it? I am always thankful for the friends who have helped me through the years. I encourage those who read this, never forget about friendship in your faith life.

Your friendship is nothing less than a reflection of God’s nature and the perfect harmony of the Holy Trinity. We are invited in the Eucharist to enter into the “Amicitia Dei,” God’s holy friendship. I know I see Alfredo in Mass. I believe this totally. I know he is out there somewhere and he is with me when the precious host is raised at Mass. I know that the blood being actualized in the Chalice on the Altar is redeeming him and I. We are not close together now, yet in Mass we are always together. I remember those I have lost. I think also of those I will meet in the future. The eternal is present in Mass. The present is eternal. Remember friends, when we come to Mass we step into the “eternal now” of God’s never ending love and friendship. We are so blessed. In Mass we not only fulfill obligation in the sacred ritual. We accept the invitation to this divine friendship.            

Friendship and social unity cannot be called anything less than essential to humanity’s well-being. I could not be where I am spiritually sans the support and love of so many good friends. Friendship, then, is an elixir of life and a necessary thing. I encourage you, here and now, to give thanks before God in the Eucharist for those people who helped to make you better because of your shared friendship. Remember their names. Take these names to prayer. Do not be afraid to reach out to these friends if you are not in contact now. Let them now you appreciate them and pray for them. Amen.

Lost Loved Ones

I share these stories as a way to tie strands of light together in the Eucharist. Forgive the somber tones of this writing, yet it comes from my Eucharistic heart. We receive strength from the Eucharist in times of loss. Losing someone in life to circumstance is hard. Losing someone to death is even harder to endure. Facing death is a decisively hard reality for a culture that avoids it. When someone dies it is hard to address it. How can we know life when we cannot even address death in our culture? So much is lost without authentic celebration. I lost most of my Grandparents when I was still young. My Mother’s Mother was my sole-surviving Grandparent. Grandma Eileen was always there for her family. She became the rock for her family. She made her home a welcome place for anyone who wanted to come. She lived with hospitality for all her family and friends, and she was always there for me. She loved her faith as well. She faithfully attended Mass in the same country Church on top of a hill for most of her life. I loved to come to visit Grandma and to go to Church with her at her home parish. I loved to look out over the countryside and think that I could see the whole World. She welcomed me anytime I came to visit. She lived out Christian charity by her constant love of her family. She was one of my best supporters as I came through school. Then there was the hard news when I entered religious life. She had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. She had only weeks to live and I had several months left in the Novitiate. I asked to depart for a weekend to go see her. I got permission and left to see Grandma. When I went to visit her I told her how much she meant to me. I thanked her for her never-ending support. She asked me if I was happy and I said I was. We both were filled with great grace at our last meeting. Then the time came for her passing. I knew it was coming yet the pain was still hard. I got the call from my Mom on the Feast of the Archangels. She was crying. I cried too. I returned home again and led the rosary at Grandma’s wake. Mass was celebrated at her funeral and I was blessed to take one of the readings. I always loved seeing Grandma. How could I ever forget her loving kindness? Now I see her in the Eucharist. I remember my Grandparents from time to time. I remember how they were there for me. I pray for them. I remember the image of the Last Supper and its invitation to fellowship with Jesus. This image was etched on the inside of my Grandmother’s casket. She lived the ideal of this image in her life. She had been a faithful Catholic, a faithful spouse and mother, and a faithful supporter of her family. We are never alone. We see our loved ones in Mass. God is a “God of the living.” The departed are not dead. They have life in Christ. Whoever you have lost in life remember they are with you. They are not lost. God will find your own and bring them back to you. We are never alone. I pray to see Alfredo again, healthy and happy in life. I pray before the Eucharist for my friend. And know that I pray for your kin as well.

Never forget those who you have loved and lost. In addition to your prayers in Adoration, Christ encourages us to remember those who have died. We know from faith that death is not the end and the soul finds its beginning of eternal life in death. Pray for those who have died at Mass. Remember that they are present around the Altar as the Eucharist is consecrated. Also take the time to incorporate prayers of gratitude into your Adoration of the Eucharist. As you pray before God in the Tabernacle give thanks for all the people who made you into who you are. Think of all those friends and family members who positively influenced your life. Imagine where you would be without them. Amen.

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Written by
Br Matthew Marie, OSB