At New Camaldoli Hermitage, the evening meditation session begins with bringing the Eucharist into the chapel. For years, the same monk filled this role every night. Brother Emmanuel raised the host—housed in its glass and brass stand—carried it into the chapel, placed it on the altar, and led everyone in a deep bow before the presence of God in our midst.
Br. Emmanuel had shrunk somewhat and was a bit stooped over when I started visiting the hermitage, but there was something about the way he carried the Eucharist that let you know, even if you couldn’t explain what it meant, that this was the body of Christ. I never spoke with Br. Emmanuel, who passed away last year, other than to offer the sign of peace, but I always looked forward to his entrance. I thought of him as the monk who carried Christ.
“We are the body of Christ,” we repeated many times in multiple languages last night as we celebrated the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. We hear certain phrases so often that they lose their meaning.
We are the embodiment of eternity, of the Alpha and Omega, of the creative, evolutionary energy of the universe. We are the flesh and blood of the Word of God, which was present in the beginning. We are—collectively throughout time—God’s coming into being.
It is given to all of us to carry Christ, not in some abstract way but in the particles that compose us, in the love that connects us, in the kindness we show each other, and yes, on this Good Friday, in the suffering we share, not for the sake of suffering but for the coming transformation as we look toward Easter morning.
From all eternity, God has known you, Jim Finley says. From all eternity, we are the body of Christ. Within and outside of time, we carry Christ forward as does all of creation.
I think Br. Emmanuel walked into the chapel with such conviction because he knew his kinship with the Eucharist in heart, soul, and body. May we all come to know this reality that surpasses understanding.