Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Live Today Well, Chapter 14

Wow. We have come to the final week in our Live Today Well book club that began back in winter Ordinary Time. It is also the final week of our classes here where I work, so that seems extra fitting. I'm excited about where we'll go from here! But first, we are slated to talk about "Mass and the Grace of Encounter." *happy sigh* Let's dive in, I have my tea!

St. Francis refers to the Mass as "the sun of all spiritual exercises," and pinpoints it as a "sacred moment." It is:

"...set apart (the root meaning of holy) in both time and place, for it celebrates God's doing, not ours."

Beautiful, yes? The Mass as the Church's Sun. That image really strikes a chord within my heart. When I was a child I thought (like many children, and certainly my own) that the Mass was BORING. I had no understanding of what we were doing or there to accomplish, it just seemed rote and monotonous to me. As an adult, I came to an understanding of the meaning of the Mass, and that changed everything for me. The Mass certainly has its comfortable rhythm from week-to-week, but it is anything but rote and monotonous.

During the Mass, St. Francis emphasizes being engaged with our surroundings via our faculties: our minds and hearts:

"First of all we should place ourselves in the presence of God...When the celebrant invites the faithful to repentance we should acknowledge our sins, be truly sorry for them, and ask God's pardon."

Thus, he is expressing a concrete way to attune ourselves to the divine presence at Mass. And we continue in this vein up through the Eucharistic prayers and reception of the Eucharist.

"Then, in the time that follows our reception of the sacrament, we can really commune with God. Here again, the sensible moment (i.e. the taste or act of digestion) can pass quickly. For this reason, it takes an intentional act on our part to appreciate th4e real presence of God now within us."

I love this. Intentionality. This has certainly been a theme throughout our time with St. Francis de Sales this year. We do what we do on a daily basis with intention: we think about it first, we offer it to God and seek His insight, and we act on it. Even in the simple tasks of our everyday lives. When receiving the Eucharist:

"...we can think of ourselves as being in this moment in the same state as that of Mary, who literally carried the Lord within her, and we can respond accordingly."

YES. This is my favorite line of the entire book. As a mother, I remember carrying my children within me (although I know many people, both men and women alike, become parents without going through this process). In either instance, the point is poignant. Receiving the Eucharist is no mere swallowing of a piece of bread. It is receiving the Lord within our very bodies. It is significant and meaningful. We need to be mindful of not taking this for granted and setting our minds and hearts accordingly.

"Divinely blessed in this sacred moment of the liturgical celebration of the Mass and in the reception of Holy Communion, we are empowered anew to live the good life."

Well. What did you think?! I got a lot out of the book. As you know, I have a difficult time sticking with spiritual non-fiction. I have a short attention span, and heavy content gets me down quickly. I thought this book was very approachable in style, and reading it one chapter per week really made the process smooth for me. I'd love to hear your thoughts on both Chapter 14, as well as the book club experience as a whole!


  1. I enjoyed the book club. The big takeaway for me is trying to be more intentional in my actions. I liked how the Mass chapter gave me more insight into why we do certain things and how to turn routine actions (like standing up) into prayers. I didn't know much about St. Francis de Sales before reading this book but his spirituality really spoke to me and I'm glad to have discovered him through this book.

    1. Melanie,

      I completely agree. I was always aware of his novena for writers in January, and I had read "Introduction to the Devout Life" many years ago and remembered it being very relatable for laypeople, but this book really made his spirituality hit home for me. I don't remember everything, but I do certain things in mind as I go about my day, and it has really transformed my work days. I'm so grateful that we found this book and read it together!


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