Bon Appétit!

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Ruel Aguirre
Dumela

                                                        

BEFORE anything else, allow me to point two major things about myself.  First, I love to eat. The thought of food excites me. It keeps me up on my feet.  Every dish is unique and a fruit of labor that seeks to satisfy hunger.  Second, I am a Catholic. Growing up, my mom faithfully reminded me about the importance of hearing Mass every Sunday and she was successful in driving the point home.  There came a time that attending Mass wasn’t that constant. It also had its ups and downs.  I believe the one way to make me hear Mass faithfully is to make it personal, something that is close to my heart. Time came when I asked God in prayer why there was a need to attend the Eucharistic celebration.  Instantly, a thought came to mind that the Mass is like a “feast”. Filipinos like to celebrate special occasions from birthdays and anniversaries to graduations and family reunions, to name a few. Celebration means food.

The Eucharistic celebration is indeed a “feast” in several ways. First, it gathers people from different places and from different walks of life. Just like the person who throws a “feast”, he would invite his friends who lived both near and far to come and celebrate.  Visitors need not just be relatives or colleagues, but they can also include acquaintances and childhood friends. The Eucharist is for everyone.

There will be a part in the celebration where the host will have time to share his message to the guests.  It can be a message of thanksgiving, encouragement, or even an exhortation perhaps to always find hope and joy in all things. At the same time, it can also be a word of comfort and an affirmation of love and support. The Eucharist bears a message to all present. The message given might strike a chord in the hearts of the guests for they bring with them their own baggage as well. Their “bags” might contain joy mixed with burden, worries, confusion, pain or tiredness. The Eucharist encourages the people is incomplete without food. This is the part when everyone will have to partake of what is prepared on the table. While eating, people share stories with one another and enjoy a perfect opportunity to meet new friends. The food on the table allows all present to commune with one another.

The Eucharist is all about communion – being together. Lastly, a common Filipino attitude is the “pabaon”.  At the end of the celebration, the one who throws the feast would usually give visitors food before heading home. Usually, this food is shared with the rest of the family or with someone begging for food along the way. At the end of the Eucharistic celebration, the priest would normally say: “The Mass has ended, your mission starts”.  It is a sending off and a command to spread what was heard and shared to those who were not present, encouraging them to come for the next feast. The Eucharist is always connected to mission. This constitutes my new understanding of the Eucharist that made me participate fully, actively, and consciously in every celebration. Our God longs to see everyone at His feast. Come and enjoy! Bon Appétit!

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