"Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body,
for we all partake of the one bread." - 1Corinthians
The sound of something breaking is not typically pleasant.
Rather, it tends to be startling and alarming. Even the
sound of the word "break" and some of its various
synonyms-shatter, split, crack-seem to signal violence and
However, there is one sound of something breaking that brings me
much peace, comfort, joy, and hope on a daily basis. Or, rather,
Someone being broken in a profound, sacrificial, loving,
and life-giving manner. If that seems odd, stay with me… The
fraction rite-during which the celebrant breaks the consecrated
bread while everyone sings the Agnus Dei or "Lamb of God,"
is my favorite part of the Mass, I think. And, since I live in a
monastery with many monks who are also priests, our daily
conventual Mass typically involves at least five people breaking
the consecrated bread on the altar at this same point in the
rite-the celebrant and four concelebrants. In our cavernous church
(especially if the celebrant still has his microphone on), the
effect can be quite striking.
No matter what spiritual, mental, emotional, or physical state
of mind I may be in at that moment, the "snap, crackle, pop" of the
Eucharistic species being broken into as many pieces as necessary
for those in attendance always refocuses me on the paschal mystery
of which I am a part. And thank God for that!
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is wholly present in body,
blood, soul, and divinity under the appearance of bread and wine,
lovingly allows himself to be broken, shared, and consumed so that
all may become one through him, with him, and in him. Together,
these broken fragments of Eucharistic bread (not just here, but in
churches throughout the world) constitute one Body, with Christ as
Head. As we partake of them, we are mystically brought together in
the same way as many grains of wheat constitute one loaf of bread
before it is broken and shared.
With this sacrament , Christ becomes fully present to us, with
us, and in us, as he told his disciples at the Last Supper the
night before he died:
While they were eating, Jesus took break, said the blessing,
broke it, and giving it tohis disciples said, "Take and eat; this
is my body." Then he took a cup, gave thanks,and gave it to them,
saying, "Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of
thecovenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the
forgiveness of sins."(Matthew 26:26-28; cf. Mark 14:22-24, Luke
22:17-20, 1Corinthians 11:23-25)
Then, having taken part in this mystery of Christ being broken
and shared for us, we are sent out into the world to
proclaim-to be-Christ by our lives, broken and shared with
others. It is only through Christ that we are gathered together in
this way, as the celebrant prays in Eucharistic Prayer IV of the
Look, O Lord, upon the Sacrifice which you yourself have
provided for your Church,and grant in your loving kindness to all
who partake of this one Bread and oneChalice that, gathered into
one body by the Holy Spirit, they may truly become aliving
sacrifice in Christ to the praise of your glory.
It gets me every time-that "snap, crackle, pop." With such
evocative imagery (and even sound), we are not only reminded of,
but become one with the paschal mystery of Christ, who
gathers what has been scattered, and restores what is broken by
becoming broken and scattered himself. It's such a beautiful
thing-so beautiful that it can't be fully grasped, only allowed to
sift through the fingertips of our minds like grains of wheat. This
kind of beauty can only be lived through praise.
So, let us pray in the ancient words of the Didache
(The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, from the first or
Father, even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills,
and was gathered together and became one, so let your church be
gathered together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom. To
you is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ forever
Snap. Crackle. Pop.
"Unless a grain of wheat falls
into the earth and dies,it remains just a single grain; but if it
dies, it bears much fruit." - John 12:24
Originally published on Br.
Francis Wagner's blog, The
Path of Life