Saturday, December 16, 2006

December 16, 2006 (L5) Lysine

Lysine - the Institution of the Holy Eucharist (L5)

December 16, 2006

Today we complete our examination of the Luminous Mysteries with L5, in which we visit the Institution of the Holy Eucharist. At the Last Supper, Jesus fufilled the ancient prophecies and the even more ancient forms of contractual covenant and sacrifice: the victim which was offered and slain was eaten. Once in Egypt, the blood of a lamb, ritually sacrificed and eaten, marked out those contracted for life. Now, even as the Full Moon of Spring brings around the Old Rites, a New and Unblemished Lamb would be ritually slain, and also consumed.

(From the extreme antiquity we hear an echo - a young lad says to his father as they ascended the hill: "Everything is here, Father, but where is the sacrifice?" to which the father replied "God will provide.")

Yes, considered merely as symbol, this new offering was strong and correct - but it was also real, legal, and as official as anything can ever be. Yes, far more was the reality of this New Sacrifice, this New Covenant, which would also contract its participants for Life - but which would also accomplish a NEW binding together in the most fully legal and contractual sense - the binding which we shall see when we consider S5.

But this last of the Luminous is also the last of the "Mysteries of Water" - and so we turn again to our rapidly dwindling store of unused amino acids, and propose Lysine for our consideration.

Lysine (abbreviated Lys or L)
RNA Codes:

Lysine has only two codes, both of which begin with AA, and are followed by a purine (A or G).

The side chain of Lysine is a straight four-carbon chain (butane) to which an -NH2 amine group is appended. Two other amino acids have a four-carbon side chain: Leucine (J4) and Isoleucine (J5). So here we have echoed the Presentation in the Temple (the Eucharist is indeed solemnly offered to the Eternal Father just after the consecration!) and the Finding in the Temple ("I must be about My Father's business"; this is echoed at the very end of the book of Revelation by Jesus Himself: "Behold I make all things new".)

This side chain is also similar to Arginine; it may be argued that the Biblical narratives of the Last Supper do not indicate that Mary was even nearby. But it is a mystical tradition that she received Her Son at that time - and so the Marian token of the nitrogen in the side chain is not unsuitable. It is indeed that amine group which gives Lysine its hydrophilic and "basic" character ("basic" is meant here in terms of pH).

Now, having mentioned this hydrophilic character of the amino acid, I must turn to the somewhat more mysterious way in which water enters into this mystery. If you are attentive at Mass, you will remember that the priest adds just a drop of water to the wine at the Offertory. He says this prayer:
By the mingling of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ Who humbled Himself to share in our humanity.
So we know that water enters into the wine, even if we omit the rather obvious fact that wine is itself mostly water in the physical and chemical sense.

But what about the bread?

Well, the special kind of bread which is used in the Mass is called unleavened - which means it has no leaven, or rising agent: no yeast nor eggs, nor baking soda, nor butter or other fat which could give it thickness. In fact, the bread for the Eucharist contains exactly two ingredients: wheat flour and water. It is mixed, and baked. Very simple. Ah, that's where the water comes in.

Let us, then, the next time at Mass when we say that famous prayer of a pagan soldier, think how the humble water has vanished: lost in the chalice of wine, evaporated in the baking of the bread... and so long ago did the baptismal water dry from our foreheads! But without that hidden, humble, secret water in all three of these cases, there would be no Eucharist for us [for only the baptised may partake]... Oh Lord I am NOT worthy that You should come under my roof. But only say the word - and my soul shall be healed. Father, may that baptismal water give me the "right shape" and so conform me to Your Word. Amen.

Ah, yes, I almost forgot to mention the connection to our preparation for Christmas. Indeed, there is one. The prayer I quoted above, which is said as the water is mingled with the wine, is actually derived from an old "Collect" (opening prayer) for Christmas, hinting as it does of the Hypostatic Union: Jesus Christ, True God and True Man. To Him be praise and glory through unending ages. Amen.


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