Let us break bread together ………..

Breaking of bread

Breaking of bread

Let us break bread together
By Chris McDonnell

Before it was decided that Sundays were better than Thursdays for the celebration of the Ascension and Corpus Christi, the Thursday after Trinity Sunday would have been the feast of Corpus Christi. And no matter the change to English, the title for this feast in Latin has somehow stuck, maybe because it is shorter that its replacement. But this year we have been told it will be celebrated on May 29th so we had better get use to it.

For those of you old enough to remember, the words “Let us break bread together…” come from a popular hymn of the 60s that is rarely heard these days.

In those few words there is a great deal of theology. First of all, we are enjoined to do something ‘let us’, an activity is envisaged that is to be done together. And what is to be done? We are asked to ‘break’ something. Now the word break is usually associated with damage, accidental or otherwise. But it can also signify distribution, a sharing of goods between friends. In the case of this hymn, we are told that we should ‘break bread together’

The sharing of bread is a custom that goes beyond our western world view in so many ways. One description for parents who earn money to feed their families is that they are the ‘bread winners’, those who ‘put bread on the table’. The family table is where, through our sharing, we gain nourishment, food for good health and an occasion of sociability.

With the erratic nature of meals times, resulting from the many and varied activities involving both parents and children, the sharing of a whole family meal is becoming a rare event. So is the conversation that goes with it, the chance to explore stories in the safety of a home, to build and understand relationships as they affect different ages.
A great loss cannot be replaced by a quick burger at the local takeaway.

Bread is a substantial basic food, coming in many textures, shapes and tastes. A loaf can of course, and usually is, cut, sliced and eaten. But occasionally, hands stretch across the table to break a piece of bread from a rough loaf, to eat as it is or to dip into soup. And others round the table do the same, each pulling away a portion of a shared loaf.

When all are finished, the bread board carries the remains of the meal, the crumbs from the loaf that we have broken together.

We are told that the bread on the table at the Passover meal shared by Jesus and his friends was broken, blessed with the words ‘This is my body’ and then shared round the table, each one present taking their portion. How much they understood at the time, we cannot tell. But it must have been enough for the men arriving in Emmaus to recognise the Lord ‘in the breaking of bread’.

In our celebration of the Eucharist we have lost this activity of sharing. The bread that is broken is now a clinical wafer that although it has convenience, has lost the elemental action that is clear in the breaking of bread. ‘The piece I that eat has been taken from the morsel that you have just taken, it is one shared loaf’.

The smaller the number at the celebration the easier it would be to enact the original table of the Lord, using not thin wafers but a loaf of bread that emphasises a sharing. Our understanding of the broken bread of the Christ and the shedding of his blood offered to us in a communal cup would undoubtedly bring home to us the true significance of the sacramental presence.

We could of course approach this part way, by only consecrating the larger altar breads that are usually the reserve of the priest. Occasionally when we receive the Eucharist, we find that placed in our outstretched hand is a quadrant piece from the priest’s host. A shared gift. But supposing it was always like that, suppose we always received a broken fragment and others receiving with us also took such a fragment that might make us reflect on the action in which we are sharing.

There is an oft-quoted statement ‘Food for the journey, not a present for being good’. Hands opened for a gift, stretch across the table, ingrained, worn by work, hardened by the graft of years, an act of sharing, one with another.

As we celebrate this weekend the transferred feast from Thursday to Sunday, let us break bread together as the Lord asked us to, and share with each other.

END

something to share with you………

I thought that I would just share with you a short reading that we had this morning for midday prayer……..

From The Ascetical Treatises of Issac of Nineveh:
‘When the Spirit dwells within a person, from the moment that person has become prayer, the Spirit never leaves them. For the Spirit himself never ceases to pray within us. Whether we are asleep or awake, from then on prayer never departs from our soul. Whether we are eating or drinking or sleeping or whatever else we may be doing, even if we are in the deepest of sleeps, the incense of prayer is rinsing without effort in our heart. Prayer never again deserts us. In every moment of our life, even when it appears to have ceased, prayer is secretly at work within us continuously.
One of the Fathers, the bearers of Christ, teaches that prayer is the silence of the pure in heart; for their very thoughts are the movements of God. The movements of the heart and the intellect that have been purified become voices full of sweetness with which such people never cease to sing in secret to the hidden God.

short video

Here is a link to a short video which some of you may be interested in, especially if you are discerning. It is a companion to a book called ‘Prefer nothing to Christ’ published by the CTS for the EBC ……

The film is available here https://vimeo.com/153230236 ; on that same Vimeo channel you will also find the film’s three sections and introduction presented as individual clips here https://vimeo.com/user48283695/videos/sort:alphabetical/format:thumbnail

What’s happening in the garden now????

Well, it’s Autumn now, and what is happening in the garden? There is lots of transformation going on and the gardener is making an excellent change with clearance etc.

Also, blackberries are being picked and made into jam with apples, apples are picked and just started to being bottled to help towards the winter eating, apples are also lining up in the ‘fruit shed’.

The Blackberry & Apple jam is very popular! (Sorry no pics of this)

 

News update…….

For the latest news at Colwich abbey please go to our Website: but here is a snippit…….

‘On July 20th Mother Abbess left Colwich for 10 days, to be one of the Forum participants. Renewal is an important aspect of our individual Christian life, let alone in our monasteries and of course within the Church as a whole. We have continually to undergo a renewal to keep focused and discern what the Holy Spirit is saying’. ……  read more……..

Hello again …….

It’s been a long time since I posted anything, but I’ve not been able to get into the Blog for some reason – had difficulty! We have a friend staying with us at the moment and she played the guitar alongside me at Mass this morning – that was great! Many family, friends and Oblates are visiting us at the moment over the next few weeks and we are welcoming new visitors to our monastery too! So, if you’d like to visit either for a private retreat, time out to pray and relax, discern your vocation (whatever that may be), you are more than welcome to come along and join in with our Daily Mass and Divine Office……….. Just email Mother Abbess at: novblog@googlemail.com

Ancient ruins……….

Fountain's Abbey

Fountain’s Abbey

 

 

 

Monasteries are always an interesting place to visit. Non less are the ancient Abbey’s that lie within our own country. In the heart of Yorkshire we have 3 Cistercian Abbey’s that lie in ruin, and the most famous of them all I think is Rievaulx, followed by Fountain’s then Byland. Their very presence reminds us of ancient traditions and the presence of God among us. It is the life of prayer that draws people to God and that isn’t so very different today. It is also – I think, but maybe wrong, a part of our own inner journey of seeking something deeper inside our very selves. We want to belong, and God is calling us but are we listening ……….

feast day…..

March 1st is the Feast of St. David so we will be celebrating my feast this coming week!

Feast days always seem to appear together during lent as we will in the next few weeks also have Saints…Patrick, Joseph, Benedict, and Our Lady (The Annunciation) which is our patronal feast!