Taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. (Mt. 14:19). ⧾
The healing of the sick and the miraculous feeding of the multitude prefigure the miracle that is the Mass throughout the ages, for the Eucharist is the medicine of immortality and the perpetual memorial of Our Lord’s Sacred Passion that nourishes us with the Bread of Life. Last Sunday, in our meditation we dwelt on the magnitude of the Mass, its importance in the Church and in our own spiritual life. The Mass is truly the pearl of great value and the greatest good in our life (summum bonum). We also saw that there is an undeniable connection between the Traditional Latin Mass and Western Civilization which it can be rightly said, it created. The reform of the Mass that followed the Second Vatican Council has not fared well generally speaking; and ironically though even Pope Paul VI who promulgated this reform lamented what he himself described as the auto-demolition (self-destruction) of the Church, neither he nor the popes immediately after him did anything definitive to correct what has resulted in the literal hemorrhaging of the faithful away from attendance at Holy Mass, the great apostasy. We ended our meditation by calling to mind the incisive observation of St. Peter Julian Eymard, a great apostle of Eucharistic piety and devotion whose Feast is celebrated today: An age prospers or dwindles in proportion to its devotion to the Eucharist. This is the measure of its spiritual life, faith, charity and virtue. The very same may be said of a parish.
I am speaking of these things to you in the interests of truth and out of concern for the salvation of our souls which is determined by our faith and the manner of our life. As we worship, so we become. There is a judgment. As if our negligence for the Mass generally speaking were not bad enough, we now are contending with attendance restrictions and liturgical abuses imposed on us by a pandemic that seems to have no end. What we are living through is unprecedented in the history of the Church. The faith is always one generation deep because each new generation of Catholics has to receive and appropriate the fullness of the faith. We want to preserve the faith and just as important, we want to hand on the faith in its fullness to our children. They deserve no less. The Mass must first be the foundation of the family before it can be the foundation of the culture. And it must be the foundation of our own spiritual life, our pearl of great value. All of life must flow from Our Eucharistic Lord, present in our churches, on the altars, in the hands of our priests. The Triumph of the Immaculate Heart will come about through the restoration of the Mass which in turn will restore the Church; and she, the Bride of Christ will restore order to this sad and violent world of ours.
Is there a remedy that we can apply? Yes, there is. Bishop Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Mary of Astana in Kazakhstan, has called on Catholics throughout the world to participate in a Crusade of Reparation for sins committed against Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. This call comes as instances of profanation and sacrilege against the Most Blessed Sacrament have skyrocketed due to the responses to the coronavirus, and after five decades of what the bishop terms unprecedented abuses against Our Eucharistic Lord. I would like all of us to participate in this Crusade of prayer and reparation because it will strengthen ad safeguard our Catholic faith and draw down the blessing and protection of God on our parish and all our families. In one of his Eucharistic hymns (Sacris solemniis), St Thomas Aquinas says: O Lord, visit us to the extent that we venerate you in this Sacrament (sic nos Tu visita, sicut Te colimus). Let us then venerate Him with all the devotion we can possibly muster so that He might bestow all the graces we need to remain faithful.
The Bishop proposes that each Catholic promise to offer monthly at least one full hour of Eucharistic adoration, either before the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle or before the Blesses Sacrament exposed in the monstrance. He has composed a reparation prayer that may be offered to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. A parishioner has generously provided for the printing of this prayer and it will be available in the vestibule after Mass. To this end, for those unable to attend the weekly Holy Hour on Friday evenings, beginning this week, the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed for Adoration from 10:00 to 11:30 every Thursday morning. I should note that Cardinal Collins has encouraged us at this time to make Eucharistic Adoration more readily available.
What is the prayer of reparation and what does it do? It is simply being in the Presence of Our Lord, thanking Him for the gift of salvation and asking pardon for the ingratitude of a humanity that sinks into ever deeper misery because it continues to reject the love of God. It is praying for the conversion of sinners. It is abiding in the Eucharistic Presence of Our Lord, loving Him and allowing His grace to transform us into his likeness. Our times are such that the spectre of persecution looms over us and we are faced with existential choices. The forces of this world are arrayed against the Church. This is nothing new but the manner in which the world is now dictating even how we worship is a development that should concern all of us. We must do what Christians have always done in times of persecution. We must resolve to serve God with even greater fidelity and worship Him with even greater fervour.
The answer to the challenges that we face is a devout life, a life of prayerful devotion, a Eucharistic life inspired by the Mystery of the Eucharist in all its glory and charity. Just as the reception of Holy Communion is a deeply personal and intimate experience, by living a devout life we will counter the evidently successful Communist effort to replace religion, that is, a personal commitment to Our Lord and Saviour with social religion, a nebulous concept that at best is philanthropy with a very thin religious veneer. A devout life is of the greatest benefit to those who live it and to those who are touched and influenced by such a life. Truth be told, the remedy to most of the problems we face is usually a personal remedy. I am reminded of G. K. Chesterton’s shortest essay when asked by the editors of a newspaper to write an article on what was wrong in the world. He wrote: I am.
I can assure you that if you begin to live a life of reverent devotion, your life will change for the better. I can also assure you that if you foster in yourselves and in your children and grandchildren a reverent and ardent devotion to the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar you will become saints; and this after all, is God’s will for us. In his last encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Pope John Paul II left us many exhortations with which he stressed the extraordinary sanctity of the Eucharistic mystery and the duty of the faithful to treat this sacrament with utmost reverence and ardent love. He wrote:
There can be no danger of excess in our care for this mystery, for ‘in this sacrament is recapitulated the whole mystery of our salvation’ (Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, III, q. 83, a. 4c).” (n. 61).
This is why the Mass is indeed everything; and we must pray the Mass, love the Mass and live the Mass to God’s greater glory, the good of souls and the salvation of the whole world. ⧾