57. For this service to be well done — indeed, with art! — it is of fundamental importance that the priest have a keen awareness of being, through God’s mercy, a particular presence of the risen Lord.
Perhaps we could speak of this as an awareness of an Emmaus experience. Is it possible or reasonable to expect every ordained person, every presider at liturgy, to have an experience of Jesus that could be communicated? Not explicitly, as in telling a story, but an experience so profound so as to be transformative.
The ordained minister is himself one of the types of presence of the Lord which render the Christian assembly unique, different from any other assembly. (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 7) This fact gives “sacramental” weight (in the broad sense) to all the gestures and words of the one presiding. The assembly has the right to be able to feel in those gestures and words the desire that the Lord has, today as at the Last Supper, to eat the Passover with us. So, the risen Lord is in the leading role, and not our own immaturities, assuming roles and behaviors which are simply not appropriate.
The difference here is that people without the conversion experience presenting themselves as the presence of Christ, and those who understand that presence from their own life. And don’t need to brag or assert themselves about it.
The priest himself should be overpowered by this desire for communion that the Lord has toward each person. It is as if he were placed in the middle between Jesus’ burning heart of love and the heart of each of the faithful, which is the object of the Lord’s love. To preside at Eucharist is to be plunged into the furnace of God’s love. When we are given to understand this reality, or even just to intuit something of it, we certainly would no longer need a Directory that would impose the proper behavior.
Directories, instructions, rubrics, of course, are necessary to guide people. But they don’t offer the primary motivation for doing liturgy well.
If we have need of that, then it is because of the hardness of our hearts. The highest norm, and therefore the most demanding, is the reality itself of the Eucharistic celebration, which selects words, gestures, feelings that will make us understand whether or not our use of these are at the level of the reality they serve. It is obvious that this cannot be improvised. It is an art. It requires application on the part of the priest, an assiduous tending to the fire of the love of the Lord that he came to ignite on the earth. (Luke 12:49)
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