DE PERE -- As Eucharistic people, we're called to move from resentment to gratitude, a youth minister at St. Agnes Parish in Green Bay told the December Claude Allouez Forum.
That means relying on God to turn our grudges into joy and thanksgiving, Ellen Mommaerts said at the monthly lecture series sponsored by the St. Norbert College Theological Institute and the Green Bay Diocese.
This year's forum asks speakers to reflect on a book that has shaped their lives. Mommaerts selected With Burning Hearts by the late Henri Nouwen, a Catholic priest and spiritual writer.
We all suffer personal and communal loses, she said. Our challenge is to confront our confusion, anger, frustration and resentments, then move through them.
God will help us, but first we need to recognize God's presence and be open to it in the people we meet every day, especially in those people and places where we least expect to find God, she said.
That requires a willingness to be transformed, a willingness to ask ourselves hard questions and to be hospitable by inviting God and others, particularly strangers into our lives, Mommaerts said.
"We constantly make choices to move or not move on this journey of life from resentment to gratitude. That's the Eucharistic life, the life in which everything becomes a way of saying thank you" to Jesus who is with us everyday.
She said Nouwen saw the Incarnation and the Eucharist as "two expressions of the immense, self-giving love of God."
Eucharist, she said, is about being a person who gives thanks and praise. Incarnation means that our God is both fully human and fully divine -- ordinary, simple, profound and divine -- and the challenge for us is to consider how that affects us each day, she said.
"Eucharist is a simple human gesture -- to be at table with each other, to share stories, to break the bread. When we come together to do that, our God, the ordinary and the divine, is united. In our sharing of stories, we challenge each other, we laugh, we cry and we love, through our stories. Jesus is God for us. Jesus is God with us on that journey and Jesus is God within us."
Our mission today is to be heralds, Mommaerts said, "to not let the story of Jesus Christ be just a story, the church just an obligation or the Eucharist just a ritual."
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