I have come across a number of people who have shared with me that from time to time, the get swept by a wave of emotion that fills them with a feeling that they seem to be overwhelmed by life. And it’s not a case of being depressed, or “emo” as the youth of our time are wont to say. As I listen deeper into such ‘heart level’ sharings by these intuitive souls, it strikes me that what they are actually addressing is that there seems to be at the heart of so many people, a shared insufficiency.
What is this insufficiency? It can be summed up as “the recognition that I need another to make my world meaningful, and that I need to share in someone else’s lack”, or to use that famous line in the movie Jerry Maguire “to complete someone else”.
In our Catholic liturgy, this is lived out every time we gather in community to worship. No one celebrates the Eucharist alone. And it becomes apparent when we stand shoulder to shoulder with strangers, many of whom are unknown to us. The only thing we know is that we need to celebrate this life that we share, a life in Christ. On our own, we realize our insufficiency. But coming together, we complete one another.
That is one very strong reason why we need to come to celebrate together at least once a week. When we pull out from this celebration of life for no good reason, we are not only shortchanging ourselves, but we are also saying to the community “you can’t rely on my presence and prayers for you this week”.
It also gives us good reason to fully participate in each Eucharistic celebration. To sing with meaning, to be at one in our liturgical actions and gestures by kneeling together, standing together, and being in one spirit together. It reminds us that at least for one hour a week, we have to put aside ourselves, our fears, our inhibitions, our preferences, for someone else.
What we must realize is that as companions on life’s journey, we complete each other’s shared insufficiency. But our humanity exists on such a wide plane, that this connection cannot be something that is a “once and for all”. It needs a constant re-connection, and we need a constant reminder of our shared brokenness, and our shared ability to heal and restore. Thus the need for such weekly celebrations.
When we understand this intrinsic connection, our concern will no longer be to show up for Mass simply because the Church says so. It will be because I understand now my need to recognize my own insufficiency, and to be lifted from it. And I also recognize my brothers’ and sisters’ insufficiency too, and their need to be lifted from theirs. And perhaps, then we will begin to realize that it is with great wisdom that the Church said so.