Deacon James Waalkes. Congratulations to parishioner Deacon Waalkes, who was ordained a deacon yesterday, Saturday, June 2! He will be called a “transitional deacon” in anticipation of his being ordained a priest next June. He will serve his first Mass as a deacon and preach his first homily here today, Sunday, June 3, at 10:30.
Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Today is “Corpus Christi Sunday,” a feast established to remind us that, even as Lent and Easter are over, the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection and His continued presence on Earth remains with us in a most sublime way in the Eucharist. In particular, we remember that the bread and wine really become the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ Himself—His Real Presence among us.
The Book of Revelation tells us that the angels and saints in heaven continually “fell down and worshipped” Jesus. So let’s consider how we react to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
— Do we show reverence toward the Blessed Sacrament? Do we genuflect before Our Lord present in the tabernacle whenever we enter the church (usually before sitting in our pew) or whenever we pass in front of the tabernacle? Do we chat loudly in church as if the Lord of Heaven were not present?
— How do we dress at Mass, especially on Sunday? Like we are going to the Wedding Feast of Our King, or going to the beach? Do we remember that skimpy clothing can be a near occasion of sin for others, and so dress modestly at Mass?
— How do we act during Mass? Do we focus prayerfully on the miracle transpiring on the altar, especially during and after the consecration? Do we chat and laugh with each other, ignoring the solemnity of the Mass? Do we turn the exchange of the “sign of peace” before Communion into a casual “meet and greet,” or carefully observe it as the ritual and prayerful sign of the peace of Christ that comes to us in the Eucharist?
— How do we receive Holy Communion? Do we observe the Eucharistic fast for one hour before Communion? Do we examine our consciences so we don’t receive unworthily (i.e., if we need to confess mortal sins or are otherwise prohibited from receiving)? Do we approach prayerfully, or are we looking around or laughing? Do we carefully show some sign of reverence immediately before receiving Holy Communion: bowing or genuflecting, or even kneeling? Do we prayerfully receive as a profound act of faith and love?
If we receive on the tongue: To avoid any chance of the Host being dropped, do we stand close enough to the priest, open our mouths and extend our tongues? Do we hold still our heads, tongues and mouths (not lurching, licking or biting) until we receive and the priest removes his hand?
If we receive in our hand: Do we wash our hands before Mass? Do we extend both hands, one on top of the other, forming a throne for Our King? Do we immediately step aside and reverently consume the Host in the sight of the priest or extraordinary minister? Do we examine our hands to make sure no particles remain?
— Do we remember that Jesus remains in the tabernacle after Mass? Do we stay a few minutes after Mass is over to give thanks, or do we rush out of church as soon as possible? Do we drop by the church during the week to visit Our Lord in the tabernacle? Do we spend time with Our Lord during Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament? Do we share our faith in the Eucharist with others? Do we actively teach our children to do all these things?
I am continually moved by the Eucharistic reverence at St. Raymond’s. But sometimes we forget—myself included. And so, we redouble our efforts so as to give Him due worship.
Eucharistic Procession. To help us to refocus on our faith in the Real Presence, today, Sunday, June 3, immediately after the 12:15 Mass, we will have our annual Corpus Christi Eucharistic Procession, walking with the Eucharist outside of the church while singing the Lord’s praises. Please join us in this ancient and eloquent witness to our faith in and love of our Eucharistic Lord.
Communion Rail. In September of last year, we introduced the use of a portable altar rail at the 8:45 Sunday Mass, in order to allow those who so choose, to kneel to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion. Although everyone has a right to choose whether to kneel or to stand for Holy Communion, it is very difficult and time-consuming to kneel without a kneeler. This is really unfair. The portable altar rail/kneeler solves this problem.
But you will recall there was another reason I decided to use the altar rail: kneeling for Communion can bring important spiritual benefits. Kneeling is well-established as an important expression of and means of encouraging adoration of the Eucharist, which is why we are required to kneel during the Eucharist Prayer and the “Behold the Lamb of God…” That is also why for centuries we were required to kneel for Communion.
I have been very pleased with the popularity of the rail at 8:45: even though they have the option to stand, almost everyone at that Mass freely choses to kneel for Communion. Many people at that Mass have told me how much they appreciate this option to kneel, and many others have asked me to extend this opportunity to the other Masses that they attend at St. Raymond’s.
That seems like a reasonable request and a great idea: why shouldn’t everyone at every Mass have the opportunity to kneel if they want to? So, for the next few weeks I will be prayerfully considering setting out the altar rail for use at all Masses at St. Raymond’s, giving people the choice to receive either kneeling or standing. (Note: for practical reasons, Communion would still continue to be distributed in the transepts as usual, without a kneeler/rail).
Some might be worried that this will lengthen the time it takes to distribute Communion, but in fact, the opposite is true: the altar rail actually speeds up the distribution. Others might be worried that they might feel peer pressure to kneel when they don’t want to. Don’t worry, there will be no more peer pressure to kneel than there is peer pressure to stand when you don’t want to.
Let me know what you think: I’m very interested in your courteous and well-considered comments, suggestions and opinions. Please email me at email@example.com, or mail or leave a note at the parish office.
(By the way, I appreciate all the input I’ve gotten on the exchange of the Sign of Peace. I will be sharing my conclusions with you on this soon.)
Priest Transfers. The changes in priest assignments was announced on Wednesday, May 30. I’m happy to note that there will be no changes at St. Raymond’s. Also, congratulations to my good friend, Fr. Kevin Beres, on his appointment as pastor of St. Peter’s in “Little” Washington.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles