All ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces (Lk. 9:17).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.
The Gospel of the Mass speaks of this Sacrament in figures as does our first reading from the book Genesis. Both the offering of Melchizedek and the feeding of the crowds by Our Lord through the Apostles foreshadow the gift of the Eucharist which through the ages continues to be offered and distributed, that it may nurture and deepen our spiritual life. Pope St. John Paul II expressed this truth very succinctly: The Church draws her life from the Eucharist. (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 1).
Though the Institution of the Holy Eucharist is celebrated yearly on Holy Thursday, Corpus Christi celebrates in a particular manner the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Today, throughout the world where this Feast is celebrated, there will be exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Benediction and Processions and all manner of expressions of devotion that lead us to the very heart of our faith for in the Eucharist, Christ Jesus… remains living and real in our midst in order to nourish his disciples with his Body and Blood (John Paul II, Incarnationis Mysterium, 11). This is a dogma of the
faith that needs to be affirmed for acts of profanation and of sacrilege sadly, have become all too common. Throughout the ages there have been Eucharistic miracles that have affirmed the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. The most famous of these perhaps, is the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano in Italy. One such miracle was declared worthy of belief this year, on April 17 when the Bishop Legnica in Poland announced the approval of a Eucharistic miracle in his diocese. The miracle happened about two years ago when a consecrated Host fell to the floor [during the
distribution of Holy Communion and] was picked up and placed in a container with water. Soon after, red stains appeared on the Host. The miracle was tested and the Department of Forensic medicine found: ‘In the histopathological image, the fragments were containing the fragmented parts of the cross striated muscle. It is most similar to the heart muscle.’ Tests also determined the tissue to of human origin and found that it bore signs of distress, the kind of distress similar to someone who has been physically assaulted. This is truly amazing. In this miracle the inward grace of this Sacrament has been made visible.
The Eucharist is the memorial of Our Lord’s Sacred Passion. This miracle should cause us to
ask ourselves what Our Lord may be trying to remind us of – a reality that many people have forgotten: the great gift of the Eucharist is truly Our Lord Jesus Christ present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in His crucified state. The cause of this miracle was not the lack of faith or doubt on the part of a priest celebrating Mass or an abuse, but an accidentally dropped Host. Nevertheless, what is Our Lord telling us?
There is a direct correlation between a lack of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament and the crisis of faith that is afflicting us. Perhaps this miracle is a greatly needed sign from Our Lord who is reminding us of what He did for us on Calvary and how He remains with us in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. The Bishop in whose diocese the miracle occurred said, I hope that this will serve to deepen the cult [worship] of the Eucharist and will have a deep impact on the lives of people facing the Host.
We face the Host when we receive Our Lord and especially when we adore Him. Throughout our long history, the Church’s faith in the Eucharist has deepened and many devotions have become expressions of our living faith in the Eucharistic Presence. Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament is one such devotion and we celebrate it each Friday evening at the end of Adoration. These devotions help us to understand that Our Lord’s Presence in the Blessed Sacrament is indeed personal and that He shares His own Heart with each one of us. In the Presence of Our Lord hidden in the poverty of the Eucharist we learn to discern and to cherish and to be attentive to the needs of others.
Why is adoration of the Blessed Sacrament so important? Is not receiving the Eucharist sufficient? In an encyclical on the Eucharist, Pope Benedict reminded us that receiving Holy Communion means adoring Him whom we receive. Only in adoration can a profound and genuine reception mature (Sacramentum caritatis, 66). Both are needed. Adoration makes our reception fruitful, reverent, devout and intimately personal.
On this Solemnity of Corpus Christi the sacred liturgy invites all of us to examine what we can do both individually and collectively as a parish community so that our reception of the Eucharist may indeed mature and become profound; a real encounter with the living God who transforms and transfigures our lives. This can only happen through adoration which is profound love. Our love has grown cold and sadly, many Catholics no longer believe in the Real Presence. Yet, the Christian faith if nothing else is Eucharistic. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament enables us to thank Him for this great gift and to deepen our spiritual lives. It also enables us to atone for the sins committed against so great a Mystery of God’s love. Eucharistic adoration enables us enter into the mystery of our Lord’s Sacred Heart and to become one with Jesus in His love of God and love of sinners. On Friday of this week we will celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. I exhort you to make an effort to attend Holy Mass on this Feast that confirms for us the truth of Our Lord’s Eucharistic Heart. Our Lord invites us to a life of greater devotion, of greater love of
God and of service of neighbour; a life of intimate union with Him. I pray that each one of us will endeavour to be more generous with Our Lord in the prayer of Adoration. Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.