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The Catholic mystical writer Caryll Houselander (+1954), in her profound reflections on the Holy Eucharist, focuses on the mystery of the Eucharistic Host by way of a captivating expression: the “Host-life.”
Houselander makes the point that the Host-life “is not something new or different from the Christ-life that we know already.” Rather, “it is the very core of it, and it was given to us at the Last Supper when Christ gave himself to us in the Blessed Sacrament.”
The notion of Host-life is meant to be for us a tremendous encouragement and bolstering of hope. For, as Houselander observes, at Mass
the offering to be changed into Jesus’ Flesh is the most fragile wafer of unleavened bread, light as the petal of a rose; flexible, colorless, only just substance at all. It is made out of tiny separate grains. It is this that Christ chooses for his supreme miracle of love.
Don’t we ourselves often feel like that … fragile, insignificant, fragmented? That is why the Host-life is our Savior’s deliberate “choice of how to live his life among us today.”
In the Host, Christ gives himself to live the ordinary life as it is today, to live it fully in all its essentials, and to take into himself, into his own living of the Host-life, the most ordinary, the most numerous, seemingly the most mediocre lives, bestowing upon them his own power to bring down the Spirit of love.
With what renewed confidence, joy, and freedom can we approach Holy Communion:
We are asked to offer only what we have, what we are today. That it is so little means nothing: it is our wafer of unleavened bread.
And then, by our faith and trust, we can be the Host-life for others.
Installments in this series can be found each week here: Real Presence