• At reconciliation, can a penitent begin by saying grace?
• Can a person sit in a dentist’s chair and receive the anointing of the sick?
• And is the Eucharist the same if the “altar” is Mom’s table?
The answers? Yes, yes, and YES!
In his book The Hour of the Unexpected, theologian John Shea includes a prayer poem on the Mass called “The Prayer of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass,” in which he describes a eucharistic celebration where everything goes askew. Regardless of the chaos, assures Shea, the sacrament still happens.
Sacraments, the heart and soul of Catholic life, are signs of the presence and activity of Christ in our lives. They include ritualistic actions that bring us the presence of Christ in matter: water, wine, oil, and bread, and in form: words and gestures.
Sacraments may become second nature to Catholics. Sometimes we celebrate them splendidly, sometimes casually, mostly correctly, other times haphazardly with mistakes, missteps, and mispronunciations. Regardless of how they are celebrated, we can be confident that Christ is present.
While remembering the thousands of times I have celebrated the sacraments, my memory often spotlights, cherishes, and pauses at the unplanned surprises that took place.
Christ is Always present, No matter how the sacraments are celebrated…