Pastoral Sharings: "Corpus Christi"

Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS 

Corpus Christi

Posted for June 7, 2015

Today we reflect on the great sacrament we come together to celebrate as a community each Sunday. Indeed some of us actually come together in this Church to celebrate it every single day. We acknowledge this marvelous sacrament as Christ’s greatest gift to us because it is the living reminder of all that he achieved through his Passion, Death and Resurrection.

By bringing his closest disciples to the Upper Room the night before he died and celebrating the meal with them that we know as the Last Supper Christ was deliberately creating a lasting legacy, giving them something that would constantly remind his followers of what he was all about.

We know from the Gospel of John that he washed their feet as an example of how he wanted them to serve each other. And we know from the other Gospels how he took the bread and wine, blessed it and shared it with the Apostles telling them to do this in memory of him.

At the time I do not suppose that the Apostles understood exactly what was happening; it was something they were only able to make sense of later and in the light of the events that followed. Nevertheless we know that this solemn meal made a deep impression on them and was something that they remembered very clearly afterwards.

What Jesus was doing at the Last Supper was in effect to sum up all that was to come about the next day, Good Friday. He knew he was going to make the sacrifice of his life on the Cross of Calvary and he knew he was going to rise three days later from the Empty Tomb, and he knew that his death and resurrection would bring about the salvation of all mankind.

And in giving us this meal in which the bread would be transformed into his body and the wine would be transformed into his blood he knew he was giving us a great sacrament by which the events of his death and resurrection would be kept alive in the Church until the end of time.

In this wonderful sacrament we are enabled to become united to Christ though our reception of the Holy Eucharist. Through this sacrament we are able to come as close to him as it is possible to be here on earth.

Of course, to the outside observer nothing remarkable happens when the mass is celebrated. To the outsider this is just bread and wine over which a few words have been spoken and which is shared out and then everyone goes home. Seemingly it is nothing special at all.

But to the believer this is the holiest thing that could ever happen; to the believer Christ becomes present on the altar and is consumed by all the participants and they are sent home having been fed in the deepest possible spiritual way to be missionaries in the world.

To us this is no mere food and drink, even though to outward appearance that is all that it looks like. No, to us who believe this is Christ himself made present to us, sharing his life with us and by our participation in Holy Communion we receive untold graces.

Sharing a meal is a very significant thing. I remember how from the small office I used to have I could overlook the school dining hall and so I was able to observe the boys taking their dinner trays from the serving hatch and begin to look for a table at which to sit. It was obvious that it was frequently difficult for them to choose where to sit.

The younger boys were afraid to sit with the older ones and the older ones were too disdainful to sit with the younger ones. Mostly what they wanted to do was to sit with their friends, with the people they knew, with those they had something in common with.

When I was young I remember hearing from a family we knew that they had welcomed a lonely single person for Christmas Dinner. At the time I thought they were crazy and that this stranger would spoil their family meal on this most special day. Only years afterwards did I realize that they understood far better than me just what Christmas was all about.

Meals are indeed significant and there is no more significant meal that the Eucharist. And it is important with whom we share our meals. With the Eucharist being so special we do not wish to share it with those who do not have any regard for it or with those so deeply sunk in sin that it would be a sacrilege for them to join in.

But apart from these things, it is actually a meal that we do want to share with others even if we have nothing very much in common with them. It is a meal that we are actually happy to share with strangers because we know it marks our much deeper union in Christ. We recognise that it is by means of the Eucharist that the whole human family despite its many differences will ultimately come together.

From this we see that the Eucharist is the source of unity in the Church and that by gathering together to celebrate it each Sunday we come closer to each other and closer to God. It is therefore important when we come to mass that we don’t put barriers up against other people. This is sometimes evident at the Sign of Peace; we should do our best to be warm and friendly with those around us at the Sign of Pace; without, of course, overdoing it.

Another thing worth mentioning is how important it is to be reverent when receiving Holy Communion. It should be evident from the respectfulness of our manner that at that moment we are receiving the Lord Jesus into our lives and hearts.

We have put in the weekly newsletter some guidelines about how to receive Holy Communion which it would be worth your while to take note. Our depth of understanding is often revealed by our actions and sometimes when a person receives Holy Communion in a very casual way it is clear to everyone else that they do not value the sacrament that they are receiving.

Today at two-thirty we will be having a special procession of the Blessed Sacrament around some of the neighboring streets as a sign of witness to our depth of faith. It would be good for as many parishioners as possible to join the procession and demonstrate to the people of this area just how much we value the Blessed Sacrament. It will be followed up by Solemn Benediction back here in the Church. I hope to see you there.

Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
June 7, 2015

The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord: The Covenant of Eucharist
Today’s first reading presents a significant scene from the Book of Exodus. This  is the people’s acceptance the Covenant of the Law of God,  the Covenant of the Ten Commandments.  A sacrifice was used to seal the covenant.  Young bulls were slain.  As a sign of the people’s acceptance, all the people were sprinkled with the blood of the bulls, the blood of the sacrifice.   Strange, but significant.  The people were not to be mere observers.  They  were to be intimately involved in the covenant.

The Body and Blood of Christ
Mark 14:12-16, 22-26

Gospel Summary

The Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, which we call the Eucharist, is not just one of the seven Sacraments. It is the supreme Christian Sacrament and it is presented as such in all the Gospels. Mark makes it clear that Jesus instituted this Sacrament during a Passover meal, which in turn re-enacts the central Exodus event in the history of Israel. For Jesus, this Sacrament interprets his own dying and rising as the definitive Exodus–the supreme act of liberation from bondage–now intended for all people and for all time. This represents for us, therefore, the ultimate liberation from sin and death…and therefore from the bondage of guilt and fear and despair.

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Year B June 7, 2015
Gospel (Read Mk 14:12-16, 22-26)

Now that we have liturgically re-lived with Jesus the culmination of His earthly ministry and His return to Heaven, it might seem that Jesus has, in a sense, gone away. The celebration of Christ the King and His triumphant return to the world He died to save is many months away. To avoid thinking that the long period of Ordinary Time is a time of Jesus’ “absence,” the Church calls us to the observance of the Body and Blood of Christ, or Corpus Christi. Our Gospel takes us back to the institution of the Eucharist, lest we forget that although Jesus reigns now over His Church from His throne at God’s right hand, He has given us the extraordinary gift of His continuing Presence in the bread and wine at Mass.

139. Shadows Fall (Mark 14:12-25)
Mark 14:12-25: On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was sacrificed, his disciples said to him, ‘Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the passover?’ So he sent two of his disciples, saying to TheManWithTheJarOfWaterTissot1886-96them, ‘Go into the city and you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water. Follow him, and say to the owner of the house which he enters, The Master says: Where is my dining room in which I can eat the passover with my disciples? He will show you a large upper room furnished with couches, all prepared. Make the preparations for us there,’ The disciples set out and went to the city and found everything as he had told them, and prepared the Passover. When evening came he arrived with the Twelve. And while they were at table eating, Jesus said, ‘I tell you solemnly, one of you is about to betray me, one of you eating with me.’

A Simple Prayer, A Simple Peace
On a retreat some years ago, several of us were spending time in prayer together. Each man in the circle took a turn at sharing with God and the rest of us in the group an intention or request or thought that was weighing on his heart and mind. There was talk of family members who were ill, people looking for work, children seeking a direction in life.

That’s when one of the men whispered what has become one of the simplest, best prayers I ever have heard.

Jesus Christ – Conquerer of Satan
From the dawn of Man at Eden, Satan has been seeking the ruin of humanity.  Today, Satan remains active, continuing to instigate rebellion against God and sowing evil around the globe; Satan’s evil influence is evidenced by the depressive decay of the culture and the growing violence and strife that is engulfing the world. Despite appearances, Jesus Christ has decisively conquered Satan but, through His mysterious Providence,  allows Satan to continue roam about the world, seeking the destruction of souls.  Every man who is willing to give himself to Christ can be protected from the Evil One.  The choice is ours.

The Transfiguration: Meeting God Face-to-Face
Jesus reveals His Glory
What exactly did the disciples witness at the Transfiguration when Jesus’s “face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light” (Matthew 17:2)? In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus brings three of His disciples up onto a mountain where Christ is transfigured before them: they saw the glory of God, the Divinity of Christ, which was hidden behind the humble appearance of a persecuted man. I believe that the disciples recorded the story of the Transfiguration because the event revealed that the face of Jesus is the face of God.

How to Serve God and Not Lose Your Soul
Serving God at the surface appears like a very noble and upright thing to do. However, it is extremely common for those who sincerely desire to serve God to end up losing their soul.
Here is why:

Where to Seek the Truth (Part I of II)
Dear Father John, I want to learn more about God but I don’t know how to tell good teaching from bad. Where can I find out the truth?
That’s a very good question and I would like to begin by quoting from something that St. John Paul II wrote in the first year of his papacy:

What Is the Deepest Root of Sin? It’s Not in Your Wallet and It’s Much Closer Than You Might Think
In polling friends as to what they think is the deepest root of all sin, I got three main answers. One was a shrug indicating no answer at all (i.e., “I dunno”). Another was to refer to Scripture: For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils (1 Tim 6:10). I’ll discuss below why this is an inadequate answer. The third main response was that original sin (and the concupiscence that followed) is the source of all of our other sins. The only problem with that answer is that it doesn’t explain Adam and Eve’s (original) sin, nor does it explain the fall of the angels, who seem to have fallen in great numbers without original sin or concupiscence and are now demons. Therefore an even deeper root must be sought.

Evil Knowledge? A Cautionary Tale from Shakespeare
The senior class at Chesterton Academy recently staged a remarkable production of Macbeth. I say “remarkable” because when the play is done well—which it was in this case—what everyone remarks about is what a powerful and provocative piece of drama it is. G.K. Chesterton says this is Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy because it is a Christian tragedy as opposed to a pagan tragedy. It is not a tragedy of fate, but of free will. Macbeth is a good man who makes a very bad decision, which is then followed by more bad decisions, which eventually lead to his destruction. It is a vivid portrayal of the consequences of sin. And as a play, it has everything: murder, madness, gut-wrenching sadness, comic relief, swordfights, ghosts and witches.

Strap on Your Bib, It’s Time for Humble Pie
Never say never. That’s what they have always said. And how true it is – both in this world and regarding Eternal Life!
If you’re beyond a certain age and have children, you may already have experienced the phenomenon of becoming your parents. As a child, you resented their constraints and swore never to replicate that which had you straining at an imaginary leash. Your children, however, see a much different you. You, their parent, are full of odd sayings and rules and boundaries.
Because you’ve grown, both in experience and knowledge, you are now able to see the wisdom of restraint.
Now might be a great time to thank your parents!

A Wall Street Guy On Why The Dominican Nuns ‘Are My Heroines’
Peter Kenny has worked on Wall Street for all of his long career, holding many senior positions including a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. Today, Peter is a respected financial markets commentator both on TV and in his own right.
Peter is also a major supporter of the Dominican Nuns of Summit, N.J. In this REGINA photo essay, he gives us a rare glimpse into his private faith, and his reasons for donating to support the Sisters.

Dear Catholic World: Why do YOU Remain a Catholic?
So, as I mentioned in this post, our own “Catholic Thinker”, Tod Worner — following the recent Pew report on diminishing Catholic numbers, and the glee that inspired in some corners — decided to write a post on why he will not be leaving the Catholic church.
Tod’s piece reminded me of an older piece of mine from NPR, where I also catalogued why I remain a Catholic, and it inspired Monique Ocampo to explain why she remains, as well.
And then Dr. Gregory Popcak chimed in, writing so well about the “audacious intimacy” of the Eucharist.

True Measure of Home Value
It was a nun and not an economist or political philosopher that reminded the world there is one timeless measure of a home’s value:  love.  In 1979, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was awarded the Nobel Prize.  In her acceptance speech, she was asked what we can do to promote world peace.  Her answer was simply: “Go home, and love your family.”  In her simple and impactful way, Mother Teresa, pointed us to the truth that housing is a fundamental and basic human right, and not merely a commodity.

Spiritual Reading for Kids
Schools Out — or at least winding down —  and families everywhere are bracing themselves for the frenetic pace of summer activities.  But while you’re filling out the family calendar, make sure to offer your children opportunities to spend quiet time with God.  One great way to do that is to develop a spiritual reading program.  That’s right! Spiritual reading is not just for adults.  There are plenty of resources out there for kids — so why not keep them properly grounded amidst all the comings and goings of summer?

Advice for Parents with Children Who Have Left the Church
My child has left the Church, what should I do? Why does it seem like my prayers are not answered?
Those two questions are heavy in the hearts of many faithful Catholics.
Fr. Thomas Grafsgaard, pastor of St. Wenceslas of Dickenson, North Dakota, made these questions the topic of his two talks at the Women’s Simple Lenten retreat for the Bismarck Diocese.

High School Quarterback Made an Amazing Promise to Girl With Down Syndrome, And He Kept It
Ann Marie Lapkowicz is a friend of mine. Her daughter is now an international celebrity.
The story begins when Ann Marie’s daughter Mary was in 4th grade. As reports, her friend Ben Moser worked hard to make sure that Mary was included in the games the other fourth graders would play.
His act of kindness was significant because Mary has Down syndrome. But to Ben, Mary was not a statistic—she was a friend.
Ben informed his mother that, when he was old enough, he would invite Mary to the high school prom.

St. Therese of Lisieux, Pope Benedict & The Miracle at Lourdes
On the night I arrived at Lourdes, I made my way to an English language Mass. Facing the Grotto on the far side of the river Gave was a modern church, concrete and ascetically uninspiring, however, within minutes of walking into its packed auditorium a voice called my name, and turning I saw some familiar faces.
It was a family I had known back in England. They were not vacationing at Lourdes, just passing through, staying over the border in Spain. They were not supposed to have attended that particular Mass but somehow their plans had derailed and had ended up there nonetheless. And so we were reunited.

Deep Joy, Difficult Suffering: Teresa of Avila on Why We Need Both
“However, the joys of this life are always accompanied by troubles, lest we should go crazy with joy.”
The purpose of the newest book in the Navigating the Interior Life book series, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, is to reveal the unique personality, wisdom, and insight that often emerges out of the letters of the saints. These letters are a window into Saint Teresa’s genuine humanity, witness, and pragmatic advice for pursuing an intimate friendship with God.

Catholic Social Teaching and the Dignity of the Human Person
Catholic social doctrine mystifies many people. Is it political or theological, spiritual or practical, left or right, modern or ancient?
Rather like the moment Jesus asked his apostles, “Who do people say that I am?” and got a wide diversity of opinions and guesses back, so today the Church’s social teaching is regarded with tremendous confusion.

Dostoevsky and the Glory of Guilt
There are only a very few authors whose works bear the power of changing the way the whole world is perceived by people. Fyodor Dostoevsky is one of those authors; and one of the ways that Dostoevsky has made his mark on human souls is his presentation of guilt. Not the feverish guilt of Raskolnikov associated with crime and punishment, but rather the guilt that is not necessarily condemnable because it is necessarily commonplace. Dostoevsky’s stories challenge people to accept this guilt that is the lot of humanity, and to accept that all are their brothers’ keepers. Everyone is guilty for everyone else, and in this guilt lays the restoration of innocence in a brotherhood that cannot be broken.

Laughing at the Devil
Some years back, my kids discovered the work of the great genius Weird Al Yankovic. Weird Al, for them what don’t know, is a musician who has graced the pop music world with something it richly deserves and badly needs: parody. Weird Al takes the self-absorbed world of yer garden variety rock/pop artiste and knocks it down with gusts of laughter. Sent by heaven to shatter the mirror of Narcissus, Weird Al transforms tunes like Queen’s elephantine opus “Bohemian Rhapsody” into a polka tune replete with accordion and banjo, Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” into the truly memorable “Eat It” (a protracted lecture to a kid who won’t touch dinner), or Sting’s pretentious “King of Pain” into “King of Suede” (a paeon to everyone’s favorite fabric). Other steps toward the betterment of the human condition include a polka arrangement of Iron Butterfly’s “Inna Gadda da Vida”, a demolition of “MacArthur Park” and the erection in its place of the magnificent lyrical achievement “Jurassic Park.”

Poverty: Affliction, Blessing, or Both? (Pt 1)
A woman wearing a travel-pack is thumbing for a ride at the traffic light just ahead. At the end of the block stands a pack of able-bodied men “hanging” outside a sooty storefront.  Merging onto the highway, a makeshift hobo camp flashes by, sheltered beneath an underpass.  You are stung by the question: “Would anyone choose this?”

In this post, I consider those whose poverty is material and involuntary, and connect it to the poverty Christ did choose–a kind he invited his followers to choose as well.

Who’s Afraid of the Theology of the Body?
A group of 50 bishops and theologians meeting in Rome last week announced that they have discovered an apparently new element in Christian morality: love, as in a new “theology of love.” They say it is needed to replace the tired, old theology of the body famously propounded by Pope St. John Paul II, who, after all, has already been gone for 10 years.

A “theology of love”? I thought we already had that: “God is love.” “If you love me, you will keep my commandments, and my Father will love you, and we will come and make our home in you.” “Greater love than this has no man.”

The Redeeming Act of Adoption
Driven by love and fueled by faith, no challenge — from the cost to the paperwork and sometimes foreign travel — deters some couples from their desire to adopt a child. Those who successfully do so say the reward of their children far exceeds the struggles they went through to get them. Here, three couples share their pursuit of different adoptions — domestic newborn, foster-to-adopt and international — and the graces they received.

11 Things That Happen To Parents Who Bring Their Kids To Mass
1. They become the center of attention.

With kids squirming in the pew comes some attention from fellow parishioners. Whether your kids are doing something cute or naughty, people just can’t seem to keep their eyes off your family. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve wanted to yell,”Take a picture! It’ll last longer!” Don’t succumb to the temptation.

Pro Tip: Remember that your children bring joy to many parishioners, especially the elderly folks. Don’t assume the looks you are getting are negative. You may be inspiring someone who needs it the most.

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