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We Are Bread

[caption id="attachment_1990" align="alignright" width="200"]Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting, OP Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting, OP[/caption] This past Holy Saturday, as on many others, I observed the empty space, the waiting time, by making Easter bread. It has become a cherished routine, and a special effort to bring scrumptious devotion to the Feast of Feasts. It's my own adaptation, as I come from a background of soda bread and pumpernickel, and began with a recipe book, but now it is all mine with tweaks here and there, and with crushed anise seed and orange rind, and the eggs and flour and eager yeast, and the kneading and forming, by Saturday afternoon I am pulling an enormous, shiny double braid out of the oven and reveling in its incense. And anticipation. This year, everything was proceeding as expected. It rose beautifully; I got the braids into proper proportion and stacked just right. But the yeast, it seemed, had been working with an enthusiasm that surpassed any Easter bread of my creation - the top braid had gone beyond regular rising and had split open in what could only be assumed was an explosion of Easter Joy! Aesthetically, not my best - but theologically, spiritually - a true icon of the Mystery! The hugeness of the mystery - that is what the Easter rites bring us to. The darkness, the fire, the flames we carry. The cleansing, drenching, life-bearing waters. A community gathering to hear the song and the stories, the Exultet rendered in high joy, the return of "Alleluia!" The making of new Christians, the profession of our faith. The intensity of the Pouring Out of Jesus' life and God's great love, and the surprise of Spirit blowing free. The future present: the Great Banquet where all will feast, equally and eternally. We come in joy, and wonder, and need. We are fed. We are bread. As St. Augustine told his newly baptized, "If then, you are the Body of Christ, it is your sacrament on the altar, it is your sacrament which you receive. You answer Amen to what you yourselves are. You answer amen to the words 'The Body of Christ.' Be what you see and receive what you are." My exuberant Easter bread has been happily shared. The full-throated Alleluias have taken a quieter tone. But we cannot forget: the Risen One is still with us, always, and with him, we are still bread, and we are mixed and formed and rise and are broken for God's glory and the feeding of God's people. May we be in all our variety, yeasty and aromatic and flavorful, crusty and chewy and plentiful. Bursting with life and love. And we will be especially tantalizing, I suspect, even on those days we feel like flatbread, because in the mix always is the ever-moreness of God, who in Christ has provided the yeast of the Divine Yearning for us.

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