(Judy Duncan, director of Music Ministries at St. Thomas More Parish in Coralville, delivered a reflection following Masses the weekend of Aug. 15-16 as part of the “Bread of Life Discourse” Gospel series according to John. She and other parish staff gave reflections on what the Eucharist meant to them.)
My first thought about Eucharist and Communion came to me when I thought about how athletic our community is. I played sports throughout high school and college (in a previous lifetime) and most folks know I am a proud member of Packer nation. We even have a dog named Lambeau at home! Looking out on any given Sunday, you can see local all-state athletes with last names such as Dileo, Brinkman, Tafolla, Galindo, Gallagher, Lehnertz or even Greg Duethman and Jim Humston, our resident bicycle ninjas, sitting in the congregation. They, and other athletes, will tell you food is fuel. I thought about that for a second and realized that when we receive Communion each week it is fuel for our souls. It’s a great blessing to be able to come to Mass, think about how I messed up during the week, be forgiven in the absolution prayer and fuel up to face the days ahead.
I grew up in Cascade with three brothers who are nine, 11 and 13 years older than I am. I went to Catholic school in town from K-8. By the time I came along, Vatican II had happened and the Franciscan nuns at Aquin were rocking out — and two of them were my aunts. I grew up playing guitar with these amazing nuns at church and learned at an early age that we are allowed to have fun at Mass. They used to tell me, “after all, the EASTER STORY has a happy ending! Show some joy!” …which may explain a bit about my philosophy on music ministry!
I have always thought of the church as my home and hopefully have instilled that in my kids, as well. There have been times in our lives that we would have sunk without the familial bond of our church community. During my husband’s grad school years we moved around a bit. At one point we landed in Texas. We had a fabulous tradition of hosting Thanksgiving dinner for quite a few people who also couldn’t travel to their home states for the holidays. I always thought of the relationship between those Thanksgiving celebrations and our Mass. My kids as USHERS opening the door to our house, greeting people and taking their coats. Everyone sitting around telling stories of past celebrations in their lives much like our LECTORS tell the stories of the Old and New Testaments.
My friends and I setting the tables for Thanksgiving, much like the PREPARATION OF THE ALTAR at Mass. (We never did take up a collection though … hmm.) The meal itself is much like COMMUNION in that we all share of the same food. After dinner we would tell our friends, “Thank you for coming to our home” and they would reply, “Thank you for the hospitality,” much like the DISMISSAL at Mass where we end with, “Thanks be to God!”
I really don’t have any great stories about my first Communion day. I know I had the white dress but I’m sure I couldn’t wait to change out of it and go play football with my brothers at the family party.
In conclusion, I guess the bottom line for me is that Eucharist doesn’t have to be complicated. Come, fuel your soul up and go out and try to be a good person. Help out your neighbor and (this one hurts) drive a little less angry and realize, YOU can change someone’s destiny just by being good to someone. That’s what I think it’s all about. And remember, the STORY has a happy ending after all.
(Judy can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.)