Actions, as the old saying goes, speak louder than words. While that isn't to say that what we as Catholics say doesn't matter, it does help us to understand that our actions have consequences, positive and negative. We know from an early age that it is confusing when someone says one thing and does another. We learn quickly to value the action over the word.
The Entrance Antiphon for the Sixth Sunday of Easter includes a reminder to praise God: "Proclaim a joyful sound and let it be heard; proclaim to the ends of the earth: the Lord has freed his people…" What we say matters. We are called to shout to the ends of the earth the wonders of the Lord. However, it is not enough to just shout it from the roof tops. We need to do something.
The Collect for the Sixth Sunday of Easter reminds us of the need to act: "Grant, almighty God, that we may celebrate with heartfelt devotion these days of joy, which we keep in honour of the risen Lord, and that what we relive in remembrance we may always hold to in what we do." If we believe what it is that we have been celebrating for six weeks-that Jesus Christ died and was raised for us and our salvation-then we ought to act like it.
That can mean many different things. It can mean taking that extra moment to speak to the person asking for money on the side of the street. It can mean donating our daily Starbucks money to ShareLife. It can mean stepping back and not gossiping in the parking lot after Mass. Whatever actions we do though, we are called to root them in the joy that we are reminded of at Easter, that we are all adopted sons and daughters of God, redeemed by the Son of God.
If you're anything like me, that seems like a tall and somewhat scary order. However, the good news is that we don't have to go it alone. "May our prayers rise up to you, O Lord, together with our sacrificial offerings" the Prayer over the Offerings starts "so that, purified by your graciousness, we may be conformed to the mysteries of your mighty love". On our own living as we are called to may be an impossible task. However, by the grace of God, and with the strength given to us in the Sacraments, we are able to make the strongest attempt possible.
The Prayer After Communion sums this all up nicely: "Almighty ever-living God, who restore us to eternal life in the Resurrection of Christ, increase in us, we pray, the fruits of this paschal Sacrament and pour into our hearts the strength of this saving food."
The fruits of the Sacrament are both inward and outward. They are both words and actions. We are called to daily deepen our prayer life, to daily shout the good news. But we are also called to be agents of that good news in the world around us.
Rebecca Spellacy is the Associate Director of Liturgy for the Office of Formation for Discipleship in the Archdiocese of Toronto.