O Sacred banquet in which Christ is received, the memory of His Passion is renewed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us (St. Thomas Aquinas, +1274). ⧾
As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ or Corpus Christi as it is traditionally known, we celebrate the Church’s greatest treasure, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist. This antiphon composed by the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas beautifully expresses the fullness of the Eucharistic Mystery and its effect on us who devoutly receive it. (He also authored all the other texts of today’s Feast). We can say with full conviction that whether we are celebrating Low Mass or High Mass, we make every effort to ensure that our celebrations are dignified, solemn, devout and spiritually fruitful. These efforts encompass everything that we do: the maintenance and repair of our building, the care of the Altar and everything related to the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, including the sacred vestments; these are not unimportant details –no matter who may think or even dismiss them as irrelevant. Our own external comportment before, during and after Mass is no less important. Our reverence is a sign of our interior or spiritual dispositions before so great a Mystery.
Recently, I was speaking with a parishioner who told me that in her youth one of the religious Sisters who taught her told her that during the distribution of Holy Communion she should remain kneeling because the King of Kings is passing by. This saintly lady told me that she has never forgotten it; and because she has shared this beautiful truth with me, I have become all the more conscious of the fact that when I make my away along the Communion rail, I bear the King of Kings in my anointed hands as you humbly and devoutly await to receive Holy Communion, meekly kneeling upon your knees. What a difference it makes to be able to receive Our Lord in the traditional manner.
The abuses ad irreverence with which the Holy Eucharist is treated has in no small way contributed to a general loss of faith. Reverence will restore our communities. We cannot say that we were not warned about this loss of faith. I mention this not to dampen our joy on this great Feast but so that our love for Our Eucharistic Lord may deepen in a spirit not only of adoration but also reparation. The great loss of faith that we have experienced was also prophetically seen by Pope Pius XII: I am worried by the Blessed Virgin’s messages to Lucy of Fatima. This persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace the Church is a divine warning against the suicide that would be represented by the alteration of the faith, in her liturgy, in her theology and her soul…. I hear around me innovators who wish to dismantle the Sacred Chapel, reject her ornaments and make her feel remorse for her historical past. His biographer notes that at this point in the conversation, the gaze of the Pope became supernatural, and endowed with an irresistible mystical force; and in answer to an objection from a Cardinal, he said: A day will come when the civilized world will deny its God, when the Church will doubt as Peter doubted. She will be tempted to believe that man has become God. In our churches, Christians will search in vain for the red lamp where God awaits them. Like Mary Magdalene, weeping before the empty tomb, they will ask, ‘Where have they taken Him?’ (Roche, Pie XII Devant L’Histoire, p. 52-53). Many of us have wept in sorrow at what has been done to our churches…
You, however, do not have to search in vain for the red lamp where God awaits you. You see it hanging, before you. We are blessed beyond measure to belong to a Eucharistic community where belief in the Real Presence is in no way in doubt. Our Lord has truly gathered us together here in a communion of faith and charity. The Church is Eucharistic in her very essence because Eucharistic Love, that is, self-giving love, is no less God’s nature, fully revealed in Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. All our efforts, at every level serve this Mystery. As Catholics we should have one desire, whatever our state in life or age: to lead a profoundly Eucharistic life, a life of generous love and service, of piety and reverence, of devout humility; a life that already here shares in the divine life that God bestows on us through grace and which He sustains and nourishes through the precious Body and Blood of Christ. When this Mystery of God here and truly substantially present in the Eucharist becomes our deepest conviction, then everything changes and every detail surrounding this Mystery and its reverent celebration has profound meaning. Everything changes because the Eucharist gives us a clear and definitive purpose to our life.
Let us then continue to celebrate this Feast with a profound spirit of adoration, gratitude and reparation. We look forward to the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus on Friday and the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Saturday. May our lives individually and collectively, reflect the ardent Love of these two Hearts. Let us pray for one another, that our bonds of unity may deepen, and let us anticipate one another is showing respect; first to Our Eucharistic Lord, and then to one another. ⧾