HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF JESUS, Corpus Christi
June 10, 2012
During a celebration of First Holy Communion, the priest was trying to help the children understand what Holy Communion is all about. He said, “The Bible tells us that Holy Communion is a ‘joyful feast’. So, what does that mean? Well, ‘joyful’ means happy,” he said, “And a feast is a meal. So a ‘joyful feast’ is a happy meal.” Turning to the kids, he asked, “So, who can tell me what elements we need at Mass for a happy meal?” A little boy put up his hand immediately and said, “I know: a hamburger, fries, and a regular soft drink?”
Well, today, on this joyful feast we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, often called simply Corpus Christi. This feast asks us similarly to reflect on what the Eucharist is all about and what it means in our lives. It is a critical question because too many of us don’t think about the Eucharist that much. Some, believe it is only a symbolic moment; others receive the Eucharist more out of habit than a conscious action of faith. So, this feast provides us an annual opportunity, again, to rethink the Eucharist and revive its power in our lives.
For me, this feast calls to mind different powerful experiences of the Eucharist; First Communions and Last Communions and many others in between. We think of the little girl or boy, dressed in white, approaching the altar for their First Holy Communion. By this time, there have already been big events in their lives – birthdays, Christmas celebrations, the first day of school. But, this First Holy Communion is in many ways the climax of their young lives. We all witness that as these children move expectantly towards the altar; their eyes transfixed on the Host. With practiced hands they receive the Host and pass it reverently to their lips. God is with these children now, in a temple innocent and pure.
And we also think of the old woman or man who are waiting on their deathbed for the last Holy Communion. There have been big events in their lives too – wedding days, the birth of children, the first time they were called “Mom” or “Grampa.” And now with their last Holy Communion comes the climax of their final years. The priest moves near. They open their eyes as they did in their childhood, raise their white-haired head from the pillow and welcome the Savior with all of the fervor their body will allow. God is with them now, and will be with them for all eternity.
The First Holy Communion is always a fervent one. So is the Last Holy Communion. We bring to the first one the freshness of youth; we bring to the last one the clarity that age brings to life. But, what about where we all find ourselves today – at one of those countless Holy Communions in between? What about the countless routine trips to and from the altar? Or the Communions missed through indifference or even sin? Does it matter? Well, of course, it does matter; and it matters a great deal; and I’ll give you four reasons why I think so.
First, in Holy Communion, Jesus nourishes us. He gives us food for our souls. In the Gospel of John Jesus says, “If you do not eat of the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” What soil does for a plant, what milk does for a baby, what pasta does for an adult, Holy Communion does for our soul. By receiving regularly and with fervor, we will thrive spiritually on the body and blood of Christ.
Secondly, in Holy Communion, Jesus makes us one with Himself. We know in life that people can be close to each other in many ways – as fellow workers, as friends. The most intimate human relationship we know is that of husband and wife. But, the closest intimacy possible for us is the intimacy found in the Eucharist. Again Jesus says in John, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in them.” It isn’t a question of living with another person, like in marriage, but of living in one another, sharing the same life. In Holy Communion we share the very life of Jesus. This union began in our Baptism, was strengthened in Confirmation, but reaches its peak in Holy Communion. And we can reach that peak of intimacy and union each time we receive Holy Communion.
Thirdly, in Holy Communion, Jesus makes us one with each other. This sacrament is not only an intimacy between ourselves individually and Jesus. It is also a love affair that embraces the whole community. It is not just my personal communion with Christ; it is our shared communion with each other in Christ. As St. Paul said, “As there is one bread, so we, although there are many of us, are one single body, for we all share in the one bread.” It is not just a personal sacrament; it is not just a straight line of contact between you and Jesus. It is a social sacrament too, a circle that includes Christ, yourself and all of your brothers and sisters. As communicants, we are not like stones scattered around a field; rather we are likes stones in a wall, keeping each other in place and being kept in place by others. Or better still, we are not like diners in a restaurant each at their own table; we’re members of a family gathered around a common table – like Jesus and His Apostles at the last supper. When we stand before this altar, it is a sign of our love for each other, a pledge of charity towards each other that finds its source in the Eucharist.
Finally, regular reception of Holy Communion is an assurance of our resurrection. Jesus said, “Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person on the last day.” Our individual resurrection may seem remote to us now at this point in our lives, so remote that our mind can’t focus on it. But, as remote as it may seem, the Resurrection is the one event on which we base all our hope. Death is not the supreme reality – eternal life is. We are not born for death; we are born for eternity; for resurrection. And we have it on the word of our Savior that, if we are faithful to the Eucharist, we too will rise on the day of resurrection. It is a mighty thought, a happy thought, a hopeful thought.
And so we pray today that through the great gift of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, we may all be nourished, united with our Lord, united with one another and assured of our eternal resurrected home in Heaven. May God increase in each of us our love and devotion for the Body and Blood of His Son.
May God give you peace.
A Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
June 10, 2012
Why Jesus used bread (rather than the Paschal Lamb) for the Eucharist
Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus, Mark 14:12-16, 22-26
While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.”
At the Last Supper, our Savior instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist using the natural elements of bread and wine. Thus, by the divine mandate, only pure bread and pure grape wine can be the matter of the Sacrament of the altar. Like the male-only priesthood, this is something over which the Church has no power but which she receives from her divine Head, Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Eucharist: The Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ?
The Catholic Church teaches the doctrine of transubstantiation, namely, that in the Eucharist, the wafer and the wine really become the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Have you ever met anyone who finds this a bit hard to take?
If so, you shouldn’t be surprised. When Jesus spoke about eating his flesh and drinking his blood in John 6, the response was less than enthusiastic. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat? (V52). “This is a hard saying who can listen to it?” (V60). In fact so many of his disciples abandoned him that Jesus asked the twelve if they also planned to quit. Note that Jesus did not run after the deserters saying, “Come back! – I was just speaking metaphorically!”
The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord: The Food of Christianity
Our society has perfected the concept that if a statement is made enough times, no matter how outlandish it might be, then the statement is given some degree of credibility. We particularly see this in politics where the facts often have little to nothing to do with the so-called truth of a situation. Lenin is quoted as saying: “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” So, in 1991 in an effort to prevent a pro-life vote from having a seat on the Supreme Court, a woman, Anita Hill, made an outlandish accusation against the nominee, Clarence Thomas. Even though her claims were shown to be thoroughly false, and even though parts of her testimony were shown to have come verbatim from a filthy novel, Justice Thomas has been permanently stained and Anita Hill remains a martyr to sexual harassment. Her outlandish statements were given credibility by sheer repetition.
The Three Temptations of the Church
In Volume I of Jesus of Nazareth, authored by Pope Benedict XVI before he became pontiff, the three temptations of Christ in the desert before entering public life are considered. The devil poses these temptations to try to confirm his suspicions that Jesus is the chosen one of God, and the temptations themselves are geared to be attractive to one who wants to be accepted as the promised Messiah. The Pope also makes applications of the temptations to the Church – three tempting approaches that would assure the acceptance of the Church and its message, but would be unworthy of the Church.
The Sacred Heart as a model for your heart
Since 1873, by the approval of Pope Pius IX, the month of June has officially been consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In fact, this devotion had long been practiced privately by individuals and also locally by dioceses (especially in France).
As May is Lady Month, June is the Month of the Sacred Heart. During this month, the Church desires that all Christians (and indeed, all people throughout the world) find refuge in the Heart of the Savior. We pray: “Jesus, meek and humble of heart, Make our hearts like unto thine!”
How Can We Know What’s True?
Because of my work with the Coming Home Network and my 15-years of interviewing converts on the Journey Home program, I’m often asked what are the most common reasons that Protestant ministers “come home” to the Catholic Church? Simply: authoritative truth.
This was the core of my own journey to the Church, from being a Protestant pastor responsible not only for my own soul, but for proclaiming the truth to my congregation and family.
The Truth About God
The truth about God is not abolished or reduced because it is spoken in human language; rather, it is unique, full, and complete, because he who speaks and acts is the Incarnate Son of God. Thus, faith requires us to profess that the Word made flesh, in his entire mystery, who moves from incarnation to glorification, is the source, participated but real, as well as the fulfillment of every salvific revelation of God to humanity, and that the Holy Spirit, who is Christ’s Spirit, will teach this “entire truth” to the Apostles and, through them, to the whole Church —Dominus Jesus (§6)
Our Feather-Strewn Sins Can Teach Us Mercy
Answering the phone, I was alarmed to hear only a deep, guttural sobbing on the other end. After a moment, the caller collected herself enough to say, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“Who is this?” I asked, suspecting a wrong number. In another second I recognized the voice; it belonged to someone who, 20 years earlier, had spread a serious falsehood about me, one that has damaged friendships and family relationships, in the long term. I had, at that time, quietly refuted the lie, confident that the truth would be obvious to anyone who really knew me. I had also determined that this woman’s own painful past was the impetus for her malice, and indeed this appeared to be the case; it seems her phone call was part of a sincere effort to work through a 12-step program, and to come to terms with her own suffering. I had prayed for this woman, and had already forgiven her in my heart, but now — for the first time — I finally said the words aloud: “You don’t need to think about this anymore,” I said. “I forgive you.”
Is the Sacred Host the flesh of Christ’s Sacred Heart?
Solemnity of Corpus Christi
Unless the local bishops have moved it to the following Sunday, today (thursday) is the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, the feast of the Most Holy Eucharist.
On this day, the Church adores the Real Presence of her Savior in the Eucharistic Species. Christ our Lord is really, truly, substantially and sacramentally present in the Eucharist. This Presence is confirmed in a most astonishing way in those Eucharistic miracles where the Host and/or Precious Blood physically and visibly change shape so as to become (in sensible form) flesh and blood.
‘A Basilica in God’s Paradise’
KEY WEST — What “conchs” have known for decades, the Vatican confirmed May 31: St. Mary Star of the Sea is holy ground.
“There’s now a basilica in God’s paradise. I believe God anointed this church,” said Robert DeLauro, who is not a conch — as natives of Key West call themselves — and has been in the parish only three years.
Signs of Our Faith
I recall a lunch I had last year with one of my new clients, a senior human resources executive of a sizable national company. Our working partnership had been very business-focused since the beginning, and I wanted to forge the kind of stronger personal connection that I enjoy with most of my other clients.
We made small talk about a number of subjects until our food arrived. I said I was going to say a blessing over our meal and she was welcome to join me. As I made the sign of the cross and started to pray, I noticed that she also made the sign of the cross. I smiled to myself and said a quiet prayer of thanks for the opening I had been given. Between bites of salad, I asked her which parish she attended.
Be Not Afraid
As a Bible Christian I memorized a verse from the New Testament: “God has not given us the Spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
The older I get and the longer I work with people the more I have come to understand how fear is at the root of all our problems. It is part of our human condition that at a very profound level we experience a kind of existential fear. It is down deep at the most fundamental level of our experience. There, before we had language, before we had rational thought, before we had self awareness–we experienced fear.
Faith and Freedom on the New Haven Green
It started with a prayer, followed by a reading of the First Amendment.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
A crowd of about 500 people, of a variety of religions and races, responded in their own ways, with Amens and applause.
Marriage is Both Biblical and Natural
A group of Pharisees came to Jesus hoping to trap Him on the issue of marriage and divorce. First, they asked, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” They were scheming to find at least one exemption that would allow for divorce. But Jesus turned their attention to the authority of the Old Testament and the Book of Genesis(1:27): “Have you not read that He who made them from the beginning made them male and female and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two but one flesh?” (Mt/9: 4-6).
Will All Be Saved?
Faith. Hope. Charity. These are the three theological virtues. These three virtues cannot be in conflict with each other. To understand and to possess faith perfectly is to understand and possess hope and charity. One cannot have a hope that is not informed by faith or that is deprived of charity. Well, you could, but then it would not be hope given to you by the Holy Spirit. It would be wishing or something like wishing.
Pollen is evidence that the Holy Shroud is indeed a winding sheet
According to university researchers the pollen found in the Turin Shroud corresponds to that of flowers used for funerals in Asia Minor 2000 years ago
In a recent conference held in Valencia, on the Holy Shroud, the work of one Marzia Boi, a university researcher at the University of the Balearic Islands stood out in particular. Boi is an expert in Palynology, which is the science that studies pollen.
As history lovers may already know, the fabric of the Holy Shroud is covered in pollen and Boi’s report clearly highlights that the pollen is proof that the shroud, which is kept in Turin, was a winding-sheet and was used according to rituals common in the Middle East over a thousand years ago.