The Eighth Day

| Father Charles Lachowitzer | November 21, 2019 | 0 Comments

iStock/ROMOLOTAVANI

When I first became the pastor of the Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Maplewood, the stories of the parish founder, Msgr. Raymond Rutkowski, were many and already legendary.

I was most impressed with the number of parishioners who could explain the contemporary stained glass windows. On one side near the entrance there was a large window representing the resurrection of Jesus Christ. On the other side, the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. These color schemes continued along the perimeter of the nave until they merged at the altar.

Father Charles Lachowitzer

Father Charles Lachowitzer

But it was when one parishioner pointed out the eight pillars holding up the roof of the church and the eight legs holding up the altar that I learned a phrase that has stayed with me ever since: The Eighth Day.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2174: “Jesus rose from the dead ‘on the first day of the week.’ Because it is the ‘first day,’ the day of Christ’s resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the ‘eighth day’ following the sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ’s resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord’s Day — Sunday.”

In those early days as a baby pastor, I was fascinated to find in several writings of the Early Church the phrase, “the Eighth Day.” I would go on to learn that a common architectural feature in many old churches was to have the baptismal font in an octagonal shape to symbolize the eighth day because, through this font, the baptized have become a new creation.

The Eighth Day reminds us that when we walk into church on Sunday for Mass, we are glimpsing our first day in heaven. Sometimes we can be preoccupied with the temperature inside the building or the hardness of the kneelers or a myriad of other all-too human conditions and circumstances. The Eighth Day reminds us that before we even open the doors to the church, we are to prepare ourselves to experience heaven in the person and real presence of Jesus Christ.

As we enter the church for Mass, we must let go of all that is wrong about ourselves and in the world. All that hurts. All the disappointments. All the divisions. All the darkness. We hand over to the greater love and mercy of Jesus Christ all the sins of the world and all the powers of evil.

Like a little child lifted up high to see far into the distance, it is the Holy Spirit that elevates us above and beyond the judgments and complications of earthly life. If we truly want to have a vision of heaven, then we must first let go of hell.

Somewhere between the arrogance of presumption and the humiliation of doubt, we are to seek out the joy of our faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In this way, it can be said that the goal of life is not just to get into heaven after we die. It is also to get heaven into us while we are still on this earth. In each celebration of the Eucharist, we see with the renewed eyes of faith where, as a pilgrim Church, we are going in the life that is to come.

As we offer our prayers of thanksgiving for all our blessings, let us remember to thank God for the Eighth Day. Especially in the Advent season, let us open our hearts to the many graces in the sacraments of the Church so that we can live out the Eighth Day the other seven days of the week.

There’s an old saying: When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your lives in such a way that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.

El octavo día

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Category: Only Jesus