Yesterday at Mass I was absolutely struck by the richness and profound teaching contained in the Eucharistic Preface for this, the Third Sunday of Lent (Year A).
Here it is:
For when he [the Lord] asked the Samaritan woman for water to drink,
he had already created the gift of faith within her
and so ardently did he thirst for her faith,
that he kindled in her the fire of divine love. (Full context from iBreviary)
So much theology, so much Good News, packed in so few words.
What really struck me was how this concise prayer illuminates the one element of the relationship between sacraments and evangelization–that in grace God gives us the “gift of faith” while at the same time waiting for our response, our “faith” in return. Baptism (or any sacrament of initiation) isn’t fully fruitful. Isn’t complete in any way, without our faith in response. It’s not about checking the baptism/first eucharist/confirmation box and moving on without personal conversion.
Okay, but what to do with a Eucharistic preface? How does this become accessible to more people at Mass? Because let’s face it. Many people miss out on the Eucharistic preface. Sometimes, it’s the presider’s rapid speed or poor use of vocal inflection and volume that make it inaudible or hard to understand. Other times, it’s that we’re not ready to hear this prayer with open hearts. I mean, I intentionally tune in for the homily. I don’t always remember to do the same for the Eucharistic preface 😉
A few ideas:
- Preach on it. This prayer nicely relates the content of the second reading (Romans) and the Gospel (Samaritan Woman). Preach on the words of the prayer directly, referencing it, and preparing the congregation to hear it again shortly thereafter, when it might become a moment of personal and corporate reflection and gratitude.
- Use the words of this preface incorporated into an image as the bulletin cover. [I mean, it’s certainly more relevant than the typical stock image chosen by a publishing company or drawing of the parish’s buildings…]
- Use the words on a prayer card to be distributed after Mass. Tangible take-aways from a worship service are a great way to help a homily, text, or topic “stick” and resound throughout the coming week(s).
- Have the presider chant or deliberately slow down for the Eucharistic preface so that it stands out to the assembly as a particular moment of connection to the Scriptures of the day.
- Use discussion based on the theology and teaching in the preface prayer as the content of formation (children, teens/students, adults, etc.) during the week preceding Mass so that all are ready to hear it (again). [Note: using similar content for all age levels gives families and intergenerational friends a great opportunity to keep discipleship discussions going outside of formal formation activities/events]
Any other thoughts or suggestions?