The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)
Gratitude. My family and I want to thank all of you who have been so kind and supportive this last week or so since my Father’s death on May 18. The outpouring of prayers, cards, emails and personal greetings has been truly overwhelming. I especially thank you for your prayers for the repose of my Dad’s soul. He was a good man, a devout Catholic, but no one is perfect. So I know he appreciates your prayers hastening his passage through Purgatory.
I also want to apologize as I have been somewhat distracted from my duties in these last days, and will probably continue to be for a few days more. And again I thank you for your understanding and patience with me.
Memorial Day. This Monday America celebrates Memorial Day, a day of honoring those in our military who have given their lives not merely for our nation, but for the life, liberty and happiness of each and every individual American. At the Last Supper Christ told His apostles, “No greater love has a man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” That saying pertains directly to the death He endured for our salvation on the very next day, and to a love beyond all measure. But this greatest love is reflected, in a very real way, in the death of every military man or woman who had laid down their lives for us. We owe them an incredible debt—one we cannot really repay. But we can try to, by living lives worthy of the sacrifice they’ve made for us—lives built on the idea of liberty as a freedom to become the best we can be, not a freedom to do as we please. Freedom to build a great nation not only of not only financial wealth or military strength, but of true virtue. Perhaps a soldier might die for their fellow countrymen’s freedom to say or do foolish things, but should we repay that noble sacrifice by actually saying and doing foolish things—or leading immoral lives? I think not.
And there’s another way we can try to repay them for their sacrifice: pray for them, that they might receive the heavenly reward for their great sacrificial love for us.
Corpus Christi Sunday. Today Holy Mother Church calls us to appreciate more fully the rich meaning of the Most Holy Eucharist. While we also do this on Holy Thursday, the other great mysteries we remember during Holy Week and the Triduum may cause us to not spend as much time focusing on the Sacrament as we might. So today’s feast was established to pause and look at the mystery more carefully.
Through this Great Sacrament we are able to participate in the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, 2000 years after the event in history, as at Holy Mass the one same sacrifice of the Cross is offered on the altar and Christ becomes truly present under the appearances of bread and wine. At the altar He unites our sacrifices and love to His offered on the Cross to His Heavenly Father. In Holy Communion the Lord, Creator and Redeemer of the universe, comes to us personally, in the flesh, entering into us and abiding in us. And as the Mass ends, Christ remains inside of us as we take him out into the world, and he gives us the grace to proclaim his glory. And he also remains in the tabernacle, truly present, body, blood, soul and divinity, to all who visit the church. And there’s so much more.
How much of the truth about the Eucharist do we take for granted, or forget? How much do we not even know? Over the last 50 years many of the truths about the Eucharist have been downplayed, ignored, or even denied in preaching and catechesis. Thanks be to God, St. Raymond’s parishioners have developed a strong devotion to the Eucharist. Our beautiful church building testifies to this, saying: “this is the house of the Lord, where He is worshipped adored and loved, and where He remains truly, bodily, present.”
Even so, there is still much work to do for all of us. As St. John Paul II use to say, “the body speaks.” The bodily Eucharistic presence of Jesus Christ speaks to us saying, “I love you,” “This is my body given up for you,” and “Behold I will be with you always.” But how do our bodies speak back to Him? Our bodily expressions of faith and devotion toward the Eucharist speak volumes, both to others and to ourselves. If you tell your child “I love you” with a bored tone, or if you never smile or hug your child, what does this tell them, and how does it affect your love for them? On the other hand: if you speak with a sincere tone and if you show affection in your actions, it not only more clearly communicates love to them, it reminds you to always treat them with love. So please consider the following. 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?
— chat loudly in church as if the Lord of Heaven were not present?
— drop by church during the day or evening to visit Our Lord in the tabernacle?
— spend time with Our Lord during Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament?
— come to Mass dressed like we’re going to the Wedding Feast of Our King, or going to the beach?
— dress modestly at Mass, remembering that immodest clothing can be a near occasion of sin for others?
— focus prayerfully on the miracle transpiring on the altar during Mass, especially during and after the consecration?
— receive Holy Communion reverently?
— observe the Eucharistic fast for one hour before Communion?
— examine our consciences so we don’t receive unworthily
— confess our mortal sins to a priest before going to Communion?
— approach Communion prayerfully, not looking around or laughing?
— show some sign of reverence immediately before receiving Holy Communion: bowing or genuflecting, or even kneeling?
— If we receive in our hands:
— 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 reverently consume the Host in the sight of the priest/EMHC?
— Do we examine our hands to make sure no particles remain?
— Do we stay until Mass is over, and even afterwards to give thanks, or do we rush out of church as soon as possible?
— Do we share our faith in the Eucharist with others?
— Do we teach our children to do these things?
I am always moved and edified by the level of reverence our parish displays at Mass and during Communion. But we can all use a reminder now and again, especially on the annual Feast of Corpus Christi.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles