Sunday, June 06, 2010

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

"Panis Angelicus"

        Bread of Heaven

Cannot help but continue to refer to this feast as Corpus Christi, the body of Christ. However, the Church guides us to call it the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ because it is a more correct describer of the Eucharist, the gift of his very self - body and blood in the form of bread and wine - given by Jesus to this disciples and to us at his last supper.

My very frist apprehension of this mystery took place at a pre-Vatican II Holy Thursday Mass during the procession taking the Eucharist from the main altar of the church to the Altar of Repose. There it remained for the whole day surrounded by a wall of candles, banks of lilies and golden light, available for reverent adoration by the faithful who would come into the church throughout the day. I was only seven or eight years old. Yet God spoke of His mysterious presence and His love for me in a most intimate way that day. What gift!

With the years I have learned and taken into my heart the essential incorporation of People of God, the assembled congregation actively participating in and necessary in the Eucharist prayers, in the consecration of common bread and wine so that it becomes in the hands of the priest the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. So vital is this corporate aspect that priests are no longer encouraged to say 'private' masses. Jesus' inauguration of the Eucharist was not a private affair but rather a communal event. "Do this in memory of me," means the blessing, the memorial, the sharing, and all of it in community. We take part in the transformation. We also can be said to offer ourselves as gifts to be transformed into the "Body and Blood of Christ." The Redemptoristine charism is expressed as dedication to becoming the "Viva Memoria", the "Living Memory" of Jesus Christ.

A few years ago I had a beautiful dream in which I was assisting at the altar as server during a Mass in our monastery. As the priest placed a host into my hand it miraculously multiplied so that I could not contain the overflow of hosts in my two hands. This event seemed a symbol of the utterly gratuitous love of God and the generosity of Jesus in this gift to us.

May the Eucharist and it abiding presence with us in every tabernacle be the force that will unify us as Catholics and, in turn, unify all who hold sacred the name of Jesus Christ.

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