Guest post by Dan Lai.
During a conference, we participated in a chocolate tasting session. The facilitator emphasized that tasting is not eating.
We first have to use our eyes to appreciate the generic and minor differences in each white, milk and dark chocolate, with different recipes and contents of milk, fats and cocoa.
Then we touch it, rub it and get a sense of its melting rate. We attempt to bend it to understand the texture and elasticity.
Next, we bring it to the side of our ears and we break it. We hear the different sounds each type of chocolate makes upon breaking.
We then bring a small piece towards our noses and cup it with the other palm. We sniff a few times and allow the aroma of the chocolate to enter into our noses.
Finally, we pinch our noses and take a bite. We allow it to break and melt further on our tongues. We start to feel a sense of sweetness or bitterness before we let go of our noses. At this moment, the full flavor and aroma of the chocolate fills our sense of smell and taste. Hence, the tasting and savoring of chocolate is a slow and pleasurable process, if we do it the right way.
It should be the same or even with more passion, with the celebration of the Holy Mass! We first use our eyes to register the liturgical color of the altar and we look upon the crucifix at the center, a symbol of ultimate sacrificial love. We gaze at the stained glasses, statues of the holy saints, stations of the cross and portraits of our Blessed Mother affirming that we are in the house of God and we are accompanied by the whole community of angels and saints.
We touch the holy water upon entry and make the sign of the cross in the name of the Holy Trinity. We decide at that time to leave what’s bothering us in the secular world, and remind ourselves of our true identity as the children of God, baptized and sanctified. We bring to our memory the core of our belief that God is one yet with three persons in perfect unity.
We kneel before the Lord. As we pray, we quieten our hearts, so that we can hear Him. We listen to His gentle assurance of His love and mercy. There may be music being played. We allow the melody to channel the spirit of forgiveness, patience and courage into our hearts. We sing the entrance hymn, Gloria, responsorial psalm, Alleluia, offertory hymn, communion and thanksgiving hymn loudly and fervently as a response to the gifts the Lord has given to us in His Word and in the Eucharist.
If there has been incense being burnt, we smell the aroma of God’s love and we witness the incense going up to heaven, symbolizing our prayers going up. We breathe in the Spirit that God wants to give us.
We go then before the Lord, with a contrite and humble heart. We convince ourselves that we are not worthy at all for His ultimate sacrifice, but we recognize that His love is larger than anything else, even death and sin. We receive Him into our body. Through that, we become in communion with all who receive Him, and we form the body of the Church with Christ as our head. We seek to be more like Him since it is no longer we who live, but He who lives in us.
So like the chocolate that has been prepared for us, the church is filled with signs and symbols, supported by the service of fellow believers in the choir or at the altar. If we fail to extract the full richness of it and allow it to transform us, it has been because we have not been “tasting” it but merely “eating” it.
“The deceased ‘tasted with faith’ the eternal banquet in heaven during their earthly pilgrimage in the sacrament of the Eucharist.”
— Pope St John Paul II, homily, 11/11/2004
This reflection was originally posted in the Facebook group “Catholics in Singapore“.