This weekend the Church marks the great feast of Corpus Christi as we celebrate the real presence of Jesus Christ, body, soul and divinity, in the Eucharist. Today’s feast reminds us of the truth that the Eucharist is not a mere symbol and is the source and summit of our faith.
When we receive Holy Communion - the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, soul and divinity - we mystically enter his death and resurrection. Our belief in the Eucharist is central to our faith as Catholics. And as such an essential belief we should remember the wisdom of St. Philip Neri, who said, "The Blessed Sacrament should be treated with reverence.”
This annual celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi calls us to account for not only what we believe about the Eucharist but also how we act toward the Eucharist. Do we receive the Eucharist worthily? Do we receive the Eucharist frequently? Do we receive the Eucharist reverently?
Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, lovingly invites to Mass each and every Sunday not only when its convenient to our schedule or when we feel like coming. When we come to Mass we come to a banquet with our God and so we should arrive on time. In fact, we should try to arrive early to pray and properly prepare ourselves for the great and sacred mystery we are about to celebrate together.
We shouldn’t rush in at the last minute but rather show the world around us that Holy Mass is, a priority and central in our lives as Catholic disciples. Precisely because the Eucharist is so central to our Catholic Faith, we should come to Mass with a proper prayerful attitude of reverence and awe. Also we should be properly dressed as if we are attending a banquet with our loving God not dressed as if we’re headed to the bar or the beach.
We prepare ourselves to receive Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in Holy Communion worthily by keeping the fast of one hour from all food and drink before our reception of Holy Communion. If we have committed a grave sin, we should seek out God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Confession and wash our soul clean with God’s mercy. We should always strive to receive Christ in Holy Communion with a clear conscience and a clean soul!
Once we have arrive at Mass we should participate fully and actively by reciting the prayers and responses with enthusiasm. We should join in the singing of the hymns with joy and thanksgiving. St. Augustine tells us, “When we sing, we pray twice!”
When we come forward to receive Holy Communion we must be focused on what we are about to receive, the body of Jesus Christ. The Communion line is not the line at the grocery store or post office. Se we reflect what we are doing by receiving with great reverence as we make a sign of reverence with a simple head bow.
As we are presented the Body of Christ, we respond with the declaration of our faith as we loudly and joyfully respond “Amen.” Staring in silence or by saying “Thank you, Father” are not proper options. If we receive in the hand, lift up our hands, make a throne for Jesus Christ the King of the Universe! We then go to prayerfully offer our thanksgiving for having received so great a gift as the Body of Christ.
Of course, we acknowledge that when invited to a banquet a guest should stay until the banquet is finished. So we wait to leave Mass until the Lord send us forth. We shouldn’t sneak out early, but have enough respect and reverence to stay until Mass has ended.
Perhaps we should take heed of the sage advice of St Francis de Sales, who said: "When you have received Christ in communion, stir up your heart to do Him homage; speak to Him about your spiritual life, gazing upon Him in your soul where He is present for your happiness; welcome Him as warmly as possible, and behave outwardly in such a way that your actions may give proof to all of His Presence."
I am in Rome this weekend and return to OLM on Monday. Fr. Connors, our new Doctor of Sacred Theology, comes back to OLM on Saturday and will be with us during the summer. Next Sunday we send forth our graduating OLM School 8th Graders at the 10:30am Mass, please keep them in your prayers as they prepare for the rigors of high school.
Do good. Be well. God Bless. Go Sox!