"Un Ti Morceau"

"A Little Something," mini-lessons and reflections by our pastor, Father Paul Counce

Fraction Rite

Published January 19, 2014 by Fr. Paul Counce

One of the most significant moments of the Com­mu­nion Rite at Mass takes place just after everyone has exchanged a sign of peace. This is the “Fraction Rite,” when the Body of Christ is divided up for dis­tribution to the faith­ful.

We see the Eucharistic bread that is “broken for us,” just as we understand the Euch­aristic blood as “wine poured out.” A brief sung litany for mercy and peace (the AAgnus Dei”) accompanies these actions. And they are important rituals, for they high­light two things.

First, our unity in the Lord is stressed. We are all partaking “of this one Bread and one Chalice,” as a Eucha­ris­tic Prayer describes it. Each of us is not “doing our own thing,” but rather we are sharing with each other some­thing of God’s.

And, second, a desire of the Lord in giving us this great Sacrament is also underscored: it is to be actively shared. We do something with these Sacred Gifts, not just leave them as they are. We distribute them for actual con­sumption as our spi­ritual nourishment.

I’m afraid many people don’t appreciate the sym­bol­ism of the “Fraction Rite” as much as they should. Maybe it’s because we’re too easily distracted by our singing, or by other min­isters coming forward to assist the priest? Per­haps we simply fail to watch the action of the priest in breaking the Eucharistic bread? Who knows? What I do know is that I need to give more thanks to God for His Son’s generous gift of Himself!

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