Saturday, June 21, 2014

Body and Blood of Christ

From the Hermitage

Diocese of Charlotte, NC
First South Eastern Eucharistic Congress
Wikepedia photo

Dear Friends,

Today we celebrate a feast that had its beginnings in the 13th century.  It seems to have been a challenging feast for Cardinal's, Bishops, Priests in general at that time.  Fortunately, there were a few priests and lay women whose dedication to the Real Presence of Jesus Christ, Body and Soul, in the Eucharist brought the feast to the attention of theologians and Church leaders.  It was Pope Urban IV who inaugurated the feast in 1264 upon the suggestion and request of St. Thomas Aquinas.

While the celebration of the Eucharist was initiated on Holy Thursday evening, those seeking to establish a universal feast day focused their attention on the "goodness of Jesus and God's gracious mercy in the Sacrament of the Eucharist."  Until recent times there usually was a procession in which a monstrance was carried by a priest, bishop or cardinal and eventually popes through the city streets or within a cathedral or church.  It served to remind us that Jesus Christ walks with us in our faith experience.  Corpus Christ, as the feast was often designated, was designed to bring the faithful followers of Jesus for a strengthened spiritual life of prayer and dedication to the Eucharist.

Fr. Tom Shanahan, SJ, a Jesuit priest at Creighton University, Omaha, NE, commented on an article he read while studying theology.  "The article skillfully focused specifically on that little word, this,(Do this in memory of me.).   What does "this" mean in the context of Jesus' consecrating words?  It does not primarily refer to frequently celebrating the Eucharist but bu "this" Jesus refers to his own action of pouring himself out with his entire life (and most especially in his death and resurrection) in service to human persons like us."   The invitation we are extended in Jesus' words "Do this ..." is, again quoting Fr. Tom, "to live our lives like Jesus pouring ourselves out for others, especially those most in need in our communities."

When a Catholic approaches the Eucharistic Minister and hears the words "The Body of Christ," what is being said to the communicant?  Fr. Tom writes an answer:  "You who with faith, hope and love are receiving this sacrament ARE the body of Christ; therefore live out your everyday life AS THE BODY OF CHRIST.  So each person presenting him/herself to receive the blessed elements of communion (individually as well as corporately) is taking on the imitation of Jesus' life, death and resurrection.  Each of us is challenged to pour ourselves out for others as Jesus did; and the entire community is equally challenged to BE CHRIST for others."

If we understand and believe who we are and who Jesus Christ is for us in the Eucharist, receiving communion should not be just another walk to the altar, another time to take the Body and Blood of Christ.

Never allow the receive of the Eucharist to become just some ordinary part of a liturgy.  Receiving the Eucharist should create within your heart and soul a burning desire to be like your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

May your receiving of the Eucharist this weekend be a special moment for you as you begin a new week.

Oremus pro invicem!

Fr. Milt