Taking Our Greatest Gifts for Granted

Bishop Thomas Tobin of Rhode Island, probably most familiar to InsideCatholic readers for his dust-up with Rep. Patrick Kennedy last November, has recently turned his attention to matters of considerably less interest to the national media — but one of even more gravity and importance to us Catholics: the Eucharist.

…as Catholics we have the tendency to take for granted one of God’s most precious gifts – the Holy Eucharist, and all that it means for us. Although we typically pay lip service to the importance of the Eucharist, I wonder if we really appreciate its significance in our lives

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Blessed Mother of Teresa of Calcutta put it this way: “If we truly understand the Eucharist; if we make the Eucharist the central focus of our lives; if we feed our lives with the Eucharist, we will not find it difficult to discover Christ, to love Him, and to serve Him in the poor.”

…as we consider the Holy Eucharist, let’s try to resist our normal tendency to take our gifts for granted. The Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ; it is the Bread of Life; it is spiritual food for our journey on earth; and it contains all the power we need to transform the world into the Kingdom of God.

Bishop Tobin has had the dangers of casual familiarity on his mind quite a bit of late. In May, when writing about the impending changes to the translation of the Mass, he mentioned one of the potential advantages to the confusion/turmoil that will almost certainly accompany the new translation:

…I’m convinced that the process of implementing and learning the new translations of the prayers will provide us with a truly blessed opportunity. I wonder – in the thirty-some years that we’ve been using the current translations of the Mass, doesn’t it seem that we’ve become a little too casual, a little careless about our liturgical prayer? When we attend Mass don’t we sometimes sleepwalk through it, respond like robots, and pray without ever having to think about what we’re saying? Of course there’s something comfortable and cozy about memorizing our prayers and taking them to heart, but the accompanying danger is an over-familiarity that leads to boredom and emptiness.

The recent occasion of my 10th wedding anniversary reminded me that taking my blessing for granted has always been one of my “greatest” strengths — (sort of like WWII has always been my “favorite” war) — and Bishop Tobin’s words are an excellent warning of just how easy it is to overlook the extraordinary gifts and opportunities we have in our Faith. Food for thought as we head off into a weekend of celebrating yet another extraordinary gift that we tend to take for granted.


  • Joseph Susanka

    Joseph Susanka has been doing development work for institutions of Catholic higher education since his graduation from Thomas Aquinas College in 1999. Currently residing in Lander, Wyoming — “where Stetsons meet Birkenstocks” — he is a columnist for Crisis Magazine and the Patheos Catholic portal.

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