Understand the difference: Trans-substantiation; Trans-signification; trans-finalization; Catholic belief in Real Presence and transubstantiation (Term from St. Thomas Aquinas).
Why bread and wine:
- Creator God is also the provider God, provide food and sustenance to the creation (also protector and the facilitator): in the desert: manna and water. Parents who bring up children have also similar responsibility.
- Food; sacraments from bread, water, oil, wine; daily necessities; grace is built on nature
- We never forget to eat: Nothing becomes so biologically part of us. We become what we eat. Junk food, not caring for God's creation. Bodies neglected. Abortion, old people, children abandoned. Our younger years are spent losing health to make wealth and our older years are spent losing wealth to get health.
- Food is nourishment (energy), life, growth and gives joy and is eaten in fellowship, Companion = the one who breaks bread with me (Latin meaning) Food is best taken in fellowship: companion; sharing
- Food should be eaten as a family. Unity
- It takes sacrifice to prepare it
- Many ingredients to make it; complementing
- Food has to be broken down to assimilate or digest – process of breaking
- How can we each become Eucharistic people? Don’t adore and worship hours bodies – naked, vulgar - on the screens of computer and TVs, but a little time with the Lord in the Eucharist. What do we hunger for? What tables do we sit to fulfil that hunger?
- Each sacrifice is an expression of becoming body & blood. We live by what we get, but we give life by what we give.
- Social Dimension: Aren't we surprised on Holy Thursday to note that the reading was not the institution of the Eucharist, but washing of the feet. Again today, the context was the multiplication of the loaves. We become what we eat. We become part of the mission of Jesus. It's all about mercy and justice.
We can approach this passage from two perspectives. On the one hand, it can help us celebrate the gift of the Holy Eucharist as told in St Mark; on the other, we can let the special way St Mark tells the story of the Last Supper help us reflect on the symbolism of the sacrament.
Verses 12 to 16 tell the story of how Jesus prepared for the feast. The apostles asked him , “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat
the passover?” Jesus’ answer gives us a context which will help us understand how the Last Supper fits into our own lives.
The Supper was part of a passover meal; it was not something that happened by chance. It took place in the context of the great feast. This feast has given Jesus’ Last Supper a special place in our Christian lives. We must be aware of this.
These verses also give us an insight into Jesus’ way of operating. He had friends everywhere, even in places like Jerusalem. He could rely on them. Indeed he depended on them to provide all that was needed to celebrate the great feast of the passover.
St Mark is stressing here a version of the Last Supper which is in continuation with the account presented by the Book of Exodus. We can therefore apply some of the points made there to our celebration of the Eucharist.
In verses 22 to 24 we meditate on St Mark’s account of the events, and we avoid focusing on the other accounts, or allowing them to influence our meditation.
The author notes that Jesus took the bread “while they were eating”. This reminds us that in its original form the Eucharist had a place in people’s ordinary lives.
After saying the blessing, Jesus broke the bread, then said”take it” and added, “this is my body”. We need to reflect on this, the body of Christ which we receive in the Eucharist is his real body. It is the one we venerate in our daily lives, the one we relate with in our normal aspirations and desires, theone we meet in all our difficulties.
In the following verse we see that Jesus had already “returned thanks” when he said the next words. After they had drunk the wine, he told them, “this is my blood”. Here again, we have a definite statement – this is blood of Christ. Everything we believe about his blood we can now say of the Eucharist. We relate to it as we would normally do for his blood, remembering all our instincts about what blood is intended for.
Jesus adds that this blood is that “of his covenant” and we must take some time to meditate on this. The blood of the covenant was what united people with their God and made them one.
It is said that that the blood “is to be poured out for many”. This has made a deep impression on our Christian life. It refers first of all to the many people who will be touched by the Eucharist – Christians of every denomination who feel that their God cares for them wherever they are. It also includes all of humanity; all human beings will be affected by this teaching in some way or other. It will make them more conscious that God is close to them, that he follows them in every mood and in every atmosphere.
We must look at verse 25 very specially. It is unique to St Mark. We must ask ourselves, starting from our own experience, why did Jesus say these words. They are clearly there to make the link between what happened at the Last Supper and what happens in heaven. This is an aspect of the Eucharist which we tend to neglect. Here we are invited to remember it.
Feel the drama of verse 26. Jesus clearly wanted to link the events of the Supper with what happened afterwards. He took the decision to go out in the company of his disciples. He would do this resolutely, with two goals in mind. The first was to confront the reality of God who was asking him to sacrifice his life on the Mountain. The second was to confront Judas and his newly accepted adversaries from the Roman Empire. He would now meet them on the Mount of Olives.
Both these things are powerful reminders to us that we need to link what happens at the Eucharist with the reality of our lives later on. They will have many applications for the centuries of the Eucharist which followed. They should always be there to protect us against false interpretations.
Lord, on this great feast we thank you for the weekly assembly of your Church
when we gather as disciples to celebrate your Passover,
and you are present with us, saying “Take and eat, this is my body,”
then saying “This is my blood, the blood of the covenant,
which is poured out for many.”.
“No one takes my life from me; I lay it down of my own free will,
and as it is in my power to lay it down, so it is in my power to take it up again.”
Lord, when things are going wrong for us, we panic,
we act as if we are no longer in control.
We thank you for people like Jesus.
Even as he entered Jerusalem, knowing that there he faced the hostility of many
and that they were determined to put him to death,
he remained in control of his destiny.
He knew that he had friends in that hostile city
and could plan the celebration of the Passover.
Lord, a time comes in life when we have to give ourselves
as spouses, parents, church ministers, public servants.
We have to say to those we serve, “Here, take it, this is my body”;
we have to say, “Here, this is my blood, the sign of the covenant between us;
I am pouring it out for you and through you for many others.”
Lord, you always seem to send us friends who stand by us in difficult times.
We quarrel among ourselves, they let us down from time to time,
but the meals we share in times of crisis seal a sacred covenant between us,
so that we can leave together for our Mount of Olives.
“There will have to be an incubation of the Christian mystery
in the originality of your people, so that in the future its native voice,
clearer and more sure, may join in harmony with the various voices of the universal church.”
Pope Paul VI said to the Bishops of Africa in Uganda, 1969
Lord, your will continues to be that every community of disciples
should eat the body and drink the blood of your incarnate Word,
so that they may experience the Covenant in a new way,
never again to be content with the old,
as they drink the new wine of your kingdom.
“Do you really wish to pay homage to Christ’s Body? Then do not neglect him when he is naked.
At the same time that you honour him here with hangings made of silk, do not ignore him outside
when he perishes from cold and in nakedness. For the one who said, ‘This is my body’ also said
‘When I was hungry, you gave me nothing to eat.'” John Chrysostom
Lord, remind us always that when Jesus tells us “Take it, this is my body”
he is also speaking of the poor whom we meet on our life’s journey,
and when he says, “This is my blood which is to be poured out for many,”
he is also speaking of those who suffer innocently today.
“If humankind on this planet has a future, then theology and religious institutions have to
collaborate in promoting communities of prayer, understanding and redemptive praxis.”
Matthew Lamb, theologian
Lord, we pray that Church communities today
may live again the experience of the Last Supper,
becoming communities where members give their body and blood
in the service of one another and of all men and women,
where they dream of the day when they will drink new wine in your kingdom,
and where, having sung their psalms,
they will go out together to confront the world.
Introduction to the Celebration
Since the very first days of the church — before St Paul had set out on his journeys or any of the gospels were written — our brothers and sisters have been gathering every week for this sacred meal. But when we routinely do anything, we often lose sight of just how wonderful it is. So today we are reflecting on just how wonderful it is to be called by the Lord to gather in his presence, to be his guests at his table, and to eat and drink from his wonderful bounty. In this banquet we become one with Christ, and are transformed into being his Body, and his Blood flows in all our community’s veins, giving us the strength to be his witnesses in the world and to inherit the life that never ends.
1. Words should help us to draw out the significant in our lives. Words should be the seeds of meaning within us and between us. Words should be precious in letting us see the wonder and goodness of the Father.
2. Unfortunately, words also can obscure reality for us. They can bury us under so many layers of accumulated confusions that we struggle to see what is really important. In a communications age, words can be the vehicles of disinformation like never before and can confuse the chasm that should exist between the genuine, the true, the important, and the illusions of salesmen, marketers, and spin-doctors. Words also can so fascinate us with their own magic that we fail to move beyond them to the realities they exist to highlight for us. Words should be illuminating, but they are often like a fog, and indeed sometimes a smokescreen separating us from reality.
3. What has this to do with the Eucharist? Well, the Eucharist is a sacrament, a sign, a mystery; and as such it should convey meaning and truth and authenticity and life. And so it always involves words: words, firstly, in the actual celebration, the words of thanksgiving and prayer to the Father that justify the name of ‘The Eucharist'; and, words too that talk about what we are doing, explaining our actions to ourselves and to others. These words of explanation and exploration of meaning are what we call’theology’. We see the process right from the start of the Christian journey: each week the community gathered and in its eating and drinking offered its prayer of thanksgiving. Then we see theologians explaining why this is significant: firstly, Paul writing to the Corinthians explaining it in terms of becoming one with the Christ, then the Didache in terms of the final banquet of the re-gathered Israel, then Mark explaining it in terms of a pre-existing understanding of the Passover (and in explaining a weekly meal in terms of an annual meal leaving a theological time-bomb that went off in Calvin’s hands 1400 years later!), then John in terms of the manna in the desert, and on and on and on until we reach some of the books on the Eucharist that are on your shelves or the pamphlets in the church’s bookrack.
4. But today we face a problem with all these words. For many the words about the Eucharist make no sense. The gathering makes no sense; its does not enhance their grasp of life or of the goodness of God. Just think of these two facts. First, English and Welsh hierarchy figures for Mass attendance showed a fall of 130,000 between 2002 and 2005. People are the evangelical churches where the Eucharist is not consid_ ered central or significant (and which in some groups is even considered superstitious). Yet the statisticians point out that between 25% (Catholics bishops’ figures) and 33% (the evan_ gelical missionaries’ figures) of South Americans now formally call themselves’Evangelicals’ as distinct from’Catholics,. And, this is a pattern of movement that is not confined to Latin America. When we consider the centrality of this meal, since the very first days of the church, that was the bonding force of the little groups with their Lord whose resurrection they proclaimed, then the poverty of such a jejune (literally) non-Eucharist centred theology cannot but be a cause of sadness.
5. That the Eucharist and its language are seen as meaningless, boring, or irrelevant either to life in general or the life of discipleship is, of its nature, a complex problem with many causes; and it is possible that it is beyond our ability to do anything about most of these causes. However, some parts of the problem are of our making and can be addressed. One of these is that many celebrations obscure the basic and original structure of this gift that Jesus gave us. This obscuring takes place in that we concentrate on all the various levels of meaning that have accumulated over the centuries such that participants cannot experience the answer to that constant human question: ‘What’s this about?’ — nor can teachers give a concise explanation that might answer that question. Such accumulations of secondary issues are a normal part of human life and the constant bane of every group activity, and so common is it that we have the classic image of the tail wagging the dog’ to describe the problem. In the case of the Eucharist this can take many forms: the celebration becomes primarily linked to the availability of a priest rather than the needs of a community; it becomes a teaching session and prayer service plus getting Holy Communion rather than the Lord’s Banquet; the questions of who can or cannot receive become the central issue — and for a great many people this is the sole question that concerns them about the whole affair —rather than encountering the risen Christ; the Eucharist the name for an action) becomes subsumed under the notion of Holy Communion (a commodity) or the Blessed Sacrament (an object); and for many, priests included, it is hard to think of ‘sacrament’ as the name of an activity of a group rather than of a ‘something’ usually had by an individual.
6. So what can one do to address the problem? The starting point is to remember that the Eucharist is the collective meal of the community of the baptised. So why not meet for the Eucharist on this day in the community hall rather than the church building? Then stand around for the whole event rather than be formally lined up in the way one might for a class or a meeting where discussion is dominant. This is a gathering, an assembly, a celebration of who we are in Christ, not a meeting to transact business. Recall the gathering at some ‘reception’, people stand and mingle, they get to know each other, they recognise they have a common reason for being there: they are not seated in rows. Then they can gather around a single table that is the Lord’s. Words like ‘altar’ are secondary: they derive from a second century attempt to explain what we are doing as we gather at the one table. It was basic to the message of Jesus that there was a welcome at his table, there was room there for the poor, the outcasts, the strangers, the sinners, and unloved. This gathering of those who are reconciled and given new life (i.e. the baptised) is the pattern for the whole life of the church, both now and eschatologically. So everyone should be able to gather around that table, and know they have as much right to stand there at the Lord’s invitation as the mob of concelebrating priests one sometimes sees huddling round it. A decent-sized dining table, that is still clearly recognisable as such (i.e. not covered to make it look like ‘an altar’), is ideal. It is also worth recalling those lines eucharistic Prayer I(which date from the time before we had formal churches) that say Remember your male servants and your female servants(famularum), indeed, the needs of all who are standing around.’
Then we come to the basic activity of thanking the Father in Jesus. We often recite this as if its purpose was to ask God to consecrate elements on the table (and as such it becomes the skilled work of the priest alone). Presented in that light there is little adequate answer to the question someone asked me after the Eucharist recently: why does the priest not get all this done before-hand so that it is ready to give to us after the readings? It is strange how the culture of fast-food outlets matches the old practice of ‘Mass and Communion (from the tabernacle, of course)’. So there has to be attention to the tone of the Eucharistic Prayer that it is recited as prayer directed to the Father thanking him for all he has given us in his Son. Use Eucharistic Prayer 11 as it is crisp and its theology elegant, and note that in the Missal of Vatican II there are no ‘words of consecration’, but an ‘institution narrative’ — there lies the core of the renewed theology of the council and it has major implications for how the Eucharistic Prayer is voiced at every celebration. We are recalling the Last Supper as part of our prayer and so justifying why we are now praying in this way (this recollection format is part of every collect: we praise the Father because of something that has occurred) not pronouncing a sacral formula. After all, in the final analysis, it is the gathered people that must be consecrated to become the body and blood of Christ.
Then we come to the basic form of the meal: Jesus used a single loaf from which each received a share, and passed around a single cup from which each drank. This is the basic symbolism of this particular meal: a common life as one body which is Christ (the one loaf), and a common destiny (see Mk 10:38-9; Jn 18:11) which is in Christ (the one cup). This eating and drinking by the gathering is, of its nature, a confusing and lengthy business, but that is fine. After all we are there to engage in just that activity.
7. This is a radical way to celebrate this feast and the homily would be to point out that we are doing it this way to remind ourselves on this day of our eucharistic basics. There will be those who object, threaten to go the the next parish where the priest is sound, and indeed some who write to the bishop (or further afield) to ‘just let him know what’s happening’. This is, in every community, a well identified and easily quantified group and so they receive a lot of attention lest they be upset; however, that other group who are just drifting away without a word are not easily identifiable and are only quantifiable through statistics. In addressing those who day by day are being lost to the Eucharist, I suspect there is some guidence in Mt 18: 12-3
Sean GoanGospel: Mark 14:12-16, 22-26
The last supper accounts in the gospels can only be properly understood against the background of the Jewish Feast of Passover. At the time of Jesus Jews all over the Roman Empire gathered to celebrate this great feast, seeing in it not only a glorious past event but also the promise of a new intervention by God when he would once again act to free them from oppression and remove the guilt of their sin. It is precisely this understanding that we find in today’s reading from Mark. Jesus’ action at the table is a ritual that anticipates his life-giving death. His death on the cross inaugurates a new covenant, a new relationship between God and his people. This is why it is so hildren of the one Father. As we share the meal let us pray for the grace to live a life that is worthy of it.mportant for us to ‘do this in memory’ of him. As the new people of God we celebrate our identity when we come together for Eucharist. We give thanks for who we are and all that God has done for us.
From the Connections:
THE WORD:Today's celebration of the Body and Blood of the Lord originated in the Diocese of Liege in 1246 as the feast of Corpus Christi. In the reforms of Vatican II, the feast was joined with the feast of the Precious Blood (July 1) to become the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord. Today we celebrate the Christ's gift of the Eucharist, the source and summit of our life together as the Church.
Today's Gospel is Mark's account of the Last Supper. At the Passover meal marking the First Covenant, Jesus, the Lamb of the New Covenant, institutes the New Passover of the Eucharist.
HOMILY POINTS:“If you have received worthily,” St. Augustine preached, “you become what you have received.” In sharing the body of Christ, we become the body of Christ. If we partake of the one bread and cup, then we must be willing to become Eucharist for others -- to make the love of Christ real for all.
At our own parish table, we come to the Eucharist to celebrate our identity as his disciples and to seek the sustaining grace to live the hard demands of such discipleship.
We make our parish family's table the Lord’s own table, a place of reconciliation and compassion.
Our coming to the table of the Eucharist is more than just reliving the memory of Christ’s great sacrifice for our redemption – in sharing his “body” in the bread of the Eucharist we re-enter the inexplicable love of God who gives us eternal life in his Son, the Risen Christ; in drinking his “blood” in the wine of the Eucharist we take his life into the very core of our beings.
The people of Israel remember especially how God sustained them during their sojourn through the Sinai with the gift of manna. The Eucharist is the new manna that sustains us on our journey to the eternal life of the Resurrection.
Elizabeth’s special recipeElizabeth's house was always filled with love, joy, good times - and fresh bread.
Of course, things come slower these days for 85-year-old Elizabeth. The simplest tasks take more time and demand more energy now than they did when she was 25. But, on days when her beloved grandchildren are coming to visit, she gets up very early and plants herself in her comfortable kitchen. Her hands, gnarled by arthritis, carefully mix the batter, knead the dough, blend in the sweet cinnamon swirl, and bake the loaves. The work demands more of her, physically, than the first time she treated her young family to her cinnamon bread, but the joy it still brings makes it all worthwhile.
Her children and grandchildren, who have feasted on the bread since they could first take into their tiny hands, know the effort it takes her now - but that makes it all the more special. But they would never dare suggest that she stop making it. For Elizabeth's cinnamon bread contains much more than the flour, water, cinnamon and other ingredients. In her loving preparation of the bread for her family, Elizabeth includes a most special ingredient: a piece of herself.
In much the same way that Elizabeth’s family realizes that her cinnamon bread contains her love for them, the bread and wine of the Eucharist contains for us the love of Christ, who suffered, died and rose for us. Christ places “a piece of himself” in this bread and invites us to “feast” on him, to be nourished and sustained by his life until we take our places for eternity at the great banquet of heaven. In our sharing of the Eucharist we become what we receive: We become the one body of Christ, we become family to one
From Fr. Jude Botelho:
|Today's reading alludes to all kinds of sacrifices the ancient Jews offered. Blood was used as a sign of the Israelites' 'covenant', a special word the Hebrews borrowed from others. It was a pact or contract, between unequal parties, like the king and his subjects; a pact freely entered into, binding perpetually, and sealed in blood. Moses is referring to the pact and covenant with God and this pact was sealed with a sacrifice, offered to God alone. Moses splashed the blood on the altar and he splashed the remaining on the people, binding the two together. The people honour the pact by agreeing to keep the commandments and being faithful to God, in return for his protection of them. Furthermore the people identified with the sacrifice by eating a portion of the victim being offered. Meal sharing was regarded as very sacred in antiquity. By eating, one signified acceptance of, and respect for the person providing the meal.|
Food for the Journey
I traveled to a place in the northern tip of Ireland one night to say Mass for a Prayer Group. It was a wild wintry night and, when the Mass was over, I was anxious to get on the road for home. As I dashed towards the car, I was stopped by an elderly lady, and I wasn't too please at the prospect of having to listen to her tale of pains and aches, while I was impatient to get going. I was very taken aback when she handed me a small boat-shaped basket, filled with triangular sandwiches, with all kinds of fillings. The basket was covered with cling film. "I just thought, Father, you might like to eat those on your journey home." She turned and went back into the church. For once I was stuck for words..! I still have the basket on my desk as I write here now. When I look at it I think of the Eucharist, 'food for the journey.'
Jack McArdle in 'And that's the Gospel Truth"
In today's gospel we have Mark's account of the Last Supper, and the longest part, has to do with the preparation for the meal. This was no haphazard, hurried, get-together but a sacred event. Jesus was continuing something that had been going on as the Jewish way of offering worship and thanks for their deliverance since they left Egypt. What He did in the Upper Room was, first of all, an adaptation of the Passover of the past. The Passover meal was also an anticipation of Jesus' offering of himself and a commemoration for the people of the future. In addition to being an adaptation of the past and an anticipation of the future, what Jesus did at the Passover was important for what he was doing now. He was signing the covenant with his own blood which will be poured out for mankind. Our taking part in the Eucharist required preparation of both body and soul. The Eucharist is not something that we come to watch, rather it is something we come to do. We have to become personally responsible for our presence at the Eucharist and not make it dependant on the priest who is presiding. Certainly, the priest can help enormously in getting us involved and in breaking the word meaningfully but if I am not disposed nothing will help. Thus a meaningful celebration of the Eucharist would mean not only an open disposition and reverent celebration of the ritual but also letting the Eucharist affect our attitudes and life.
The Body of Christ is not only our redemption, it is our task!
In his sermon 'The Weight of Glory', C.S. Lewis wrote: 'Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to our senses." "Christ's body is hidden in the least of us as it is under the appearances of bread and wine. Both require an uncommon and daring faith. When we labour for human rights, when we shelter the poor, when we dismantle the bombs, when we protect the unborn, when we reach out to the criminal, we do these things not as political activists or social workers. We do them not as liberals or conservatives. We do them as people who worship the incarnate God. The body and blood of Christ is not only our redemption. It is our task!"
John F. Kavanaugh
This will be enough for me!
In Ingmar Bergman's classic film, The Seventh Seal, the quest for God is set against a medieval world threatened by plague. After fighting in the crusades a knight makes his way to his native land. He survives a shipwreck, but death lets him know that he is doomed to die within a certain time. The knight wins a little more time at a game of chess, but he is sick at heart: he wants to believe in God, yet he cannot manage by himself to reach faith. He seeks for signs of God's presence, but there is none he can see. It is the time of the Black Death; God seems to be absent from the troubled streets of every town and village. On his journey the knight meets a peasant couple and their child, and shares a simple meal with them. The only food they can manage to gather is wild strawberries -this they share together with fresh milk. The love in the young couple's welcome, the fruit of their love in the sleeping child, Mikael, all this is greater than the food and drink they share. In the simple actions of sharing the meal the knight sees the presence of a love that has eluded him. In that meeting place the darkness begins to lift from the knight. He has been gifted with more than food; he has been graced with more than fellowship. He prays his thanks when he says: "I shall remember this moment. The silence, the twilight, the bowls of strawberries and milk, your face in the evening light. Mikael sleeping, Jof with his lyre. I'll carry this memory between my hands as carefully as if it were a bowl filled to the brim with fresh milk. And it will be an adequate sign. It will be enough for me!"
Denis McBride in 'Seasons of the Word'
Retelling the Story
On a hill near Cape Town, South Africa, just below the famed Table Mountain, a gun is fired every day at noon. The hill is known as Signal Hill. The firing of the gun once served a beautiful purpose. It signaled that a ship, on its way to or from India, had arrived in the harbour with a cargo of goods, and was in need of supplies of food and fresh water. A beautiful exchange resulted. There was receiving and giving. But that was a long time ago. The purpose no longer exists. Yet the gun is still fired dutifully every day. However, the firing is now little more than an empty ritual. Once it had a beautiful meaning. Now the meaning has gone out of it. Most of the local people ignore it. Visitors are told, 'If you hear a loud bang at mid-day, don't worry. It's only the gun going off.' However the ritual still has one thing going for it. Most people know the story behind it. If that story were to be lost, then the ritual would become poorer still. The Eucharist celebrates a wonderful event - the gift which Jesus made of his life on our behalf. Every time we celebrate the Eucharist we tell that story again. But like anything that is repeated over and over again, there is a danger that it may become just a ritual.
Flor McCarthy in 'New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies'
Christ -the primary focus
Leonardo da Vinci was 43 years old when the duke of Milano asked him to paint the Last Supper. He worked on it slowly and with meticulous care to detail. He spent much time making the cup that Jesus held as beautiful as possible. After three years he was ready to show it, and he called a friend to come and see it. He said, "Look at it and give me your opinion." The friend said, "It is wonderful. The cup is so real I cannot take my eyes of it!" Immediately, Leonardo took a brush and drew it across the sparkling cup. He exclaimed as he did so: "Nothing shall detract from the figure of Christ!" Christ must be the primary focus of a Christian's life!
John Rose in 'John's Sunday Homilies'
God Always Comes...
Once upon a time there was a Rabbi. Whenever he wanted God's presence, he went to a special place in the woods, lit a fire, said some prayers, and did a dance. Then God would appear to him. When he died, his disciple did the same. If he wanted God's presence, he went to the same spot in the woods, lit the fire, and said the same prayers, but nobody had taught him the dance. It still worked. God appeared. When he died, his disciple carried on the tradition. If he wanted God's presence, he went to the same spot in the woods and lit the fire, but he didn't know the prayers, nor the dance, but it still worked. God came. Then he died. He also had a disciple. Whenever he wanted God's presence, he too went to the same place in the woods, but nobody had taught him how to light the fire or say the prayers or do the dance, but it still worked, God appeared. In the end, he died, but he too had a pupil. One day this pupil wanted God's presence. So he searched for the place in the woods, but couldn't find it. And he didn't know how to light the fire or say the prayers or do the dance. All he knew was how to tell the story. But it worked. He discovered that whenever he told the story of how the others had found God, God would appear. In essence, this story explains how the sacred ritual, liturgy, works.
Ronald Rolheiser in 'In Exile'
Jesus, Bread of Life
Brennan Manning, an American Franciscan priest, tells this story of his mother, a lady in her mid-seventies in Brooklyn. Mrs. Manning's day centred on her daily Eucharist. Because she began her voluntary stint at a drug detoxification centre each morning at 7.30 a.m., the only mass she could reach was at 5.30 a.m. Across the road from her lived a very successful lawyer, mid-thirties, married with two children. The man had no religion and was particularly critical of daily church-goers. Driving home from a late party at 5 am one January morning, the roads glassy with ice, he said to his wife: "I bet that old hag won't be out this morning", referring to Mrs. Manning. But to his shock, there she was on hands and knees negotiating the hill up to the church. He went home, tried to sleep, but could not. Around 9 am he rose, went to the local presbytery and asked to see a priest. "Padre," he said, "I am not one of yours. I have no religion. But could you tell me what do you have there that can make an old woman crawl on hands and knees on an icy morning?" Thus began his conversion along with his wife and family. Mrs. Manning was one of those people who never studied deep religious books, never knew the big theological words, but she knew what it is to meet Jesus in Holy Communion. Jesus Christ is the bread of life. What more could we want?
Sylvester O'Flynn in 'The Good News of Mark's Year'
From Father Tony Kadavil's Collection:
# 1: “I would like to say Mass.”
Dominic Tang, the courageous Chinese archbishop, was imprisoned for twenty-one years for nothing more than his loyalty to Christ and Christ’s one, true Church. After five years of solitary confinement in a windowless, damp cell, he was told by his jailers that he could leave it for a few hours to do whatever he wanted. Five years of solitary confinement and he had a couple of hours to do what he wanted! What would it be? A hot shower? A change of clothes? Certainly a long walk outside? A chance to call or write to family? What would it be, the jailer asked him. “I would like to say Mass,” replied Archbishop Tang. [Msgr. Timothy M. Dolan, Priests of the Third Millennium (2000), p. 216]. The Vietnamese Jesuit, Joseph Nguyen-Cong Doan, who spent nine years in labor camps in Vietnam, relates how he was finally able to say Mass when a fellow priest-prisoner shared some of his own smuggled supplies. “That night, when the other prisoners were asleep, lying on the floor of my cell, I celebrated Mass with tears of joy. My altar was my blanket, my prison clothes my vestments. But I felt myself at the heart of humanity and of the whole of creation.” (Ibid., p. 224). Today’s feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus constantly calls us beyond ourselves to sacrificial love for others.
# 2: The greatest work of art in St. Peter’s Basilica:
‘One of the seminarians who gives tours of St. Peter’s told me of an interesting incident. He was leading a group of Japanese tourists who knew absolutely nothing of our faith. With particular care he explained the great masterpieces of art, sculpture and architecture. He finally concluded at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel trying his best to explain quickly what it was. As the group dispersed, an elderly man, who had been particularly attentive stayed behind, and said, “Pardon me. Would you explain again this ‘Blessed Sacrament?’ Our student did, after which the man exclaimed, “Ah, if this is so, what is in this chapel is a greater work of art than anything else in this basilica.”’ (Msgr. Timothy M Dolan in Priests of the Third Millennium, 2000 p. 226). Today’s feast of Corpus Christi is intended to make us value and appreciate the worth of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.
3: Communion on the moon:
The Lord's Supper ensures that we can remember Jesus from any place. Apollo 11 landed on the moon on Sunday, July 20, 1969. Most remember astronaut Neil Armstrong's first words as he stepped onto the moon's surface: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." But few know about the first meal eaten on the moon. Dennis Fisher reports that Buzz Aldrin, the NASA Astronaut had taken aboard the spacecraft a tiny pyx provided by his Catholic pastor. Aldrin sent a radio broadcast to Earth asking listeners to contemplate the events of the day and give thanks. Then, blacking out the broadcast for privacy, Aldrin read, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit." Then, silently, he gave thanks for their successful journey to the moon and received Jesus in the Holy Eucharist surrendering moon to Jesus. Next he descended on the moon and walked on it with Neil Armstrong. (Dan Gulley: "Communion on the Moon": Our Daily Bread: June/July/August, 2007). His actions remind us that in the Lord's Supper, God's children can share the life of Jesus from any place on Earth — and even from the moon. God is everywhere, and our worship should reflect this reality. In Psalm 139 we are told that wherever we go, God is intimately present with us. Buzz Aldrin celebrated that experience on the surface of the moon. Thousands of miles from earth, he took time to commune with the One who created, redeemed, and established fellowship with him.
Mother Teresa was given a reception by the cruel communist dictator Enver Hoxha who ruled Albania for 40 years from 1945 to 1985. He imposed atheism as the official religion in 1967. The possession of a Bible or cross often meant a ten-year prison term. Welcoming Mother Teresa in 1985, he stated that he appreciated her world-wide works of charity, and then added, “But I will not permit Christ to return to
Hoxha was gone a few days later on April 11, 1985. Communist rule collapsed in
When push comes to that famous shove, it doesn't matter what Mother Teresa or you or I believe about the Eucharist. What does matter is what Christ Himself believes about it. For the answer one must go to the record.
5. The Eucharistic piety that converted St. Elizabeth Ann Seton:
Two hundred years ago, a beautiful young Episcopalian woman accompanied her husband, a merchant, to Italy, leaving four of their five children at home with family members. They had sailed for
6. A message of unity and sacrificial love:
The Eucharist, (the body and blood of Christ) teaches us the importance of community, the bond that results from this sacrifice. Just as numerous grains of wheat are pounded together to make the host, and many grapes are crushed together to make the wine, so we become unified in this sacrifice. Our Lord chose these elements in order to show us that we ought to be united with one another and to allow and work with the Holy Spirit in transforming us into Our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is the head and we are the body. Together we are one. That which unites us is our willingness to sacrifice our time and talents for our fellow members in Christ’s mystical body. This is symbolized by our sharing in the same bread and the same cup. Hence, Holy Communion should strengthen our sense of unity and love.
7. The duty of preparing properly to receive Holy Communion:
We have tarnished God’s image within us through acts of impurity, injustice and disobedience. Hence, there is always need for repentance, and a need for the sacramental confession of grave sins before we receive Holy Communion. We should remember the warning given by
8. Let us become Christ-bearers and conveyers:
By receiving Holy Communion we become Christ-bearers as Mary was, with the duty of conveying Christ to others at home and in the workplace, as love, mercy, forgiveness and humble and sacrificial service.
As we celebrate this great feast of faith, let us worship what St. Thomas Aquinas did not hesitate to call, "the greatest miracle that Christ ever worked on earth ...... my Body ........ my Blood". Before the greatness of this mystery, let us exclaim with
9. “All we really need in our convent is the tabernacle.”
The former archbishop of San Francisco, John Quinn, loves to tell the story of the arrival of Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity to open their house in the city. Poor Archbishop Quinn had gone to great efforts to make sure that their convent was, while hardly opulent, quite comfortable. He recalls how Mother Teresa arrived and immediately ordered the carpets removed, the telephones, except for one, pulled out of the wall, the beds, except for the mattresses taken away, and on and on. Explained Mother Teresa to the baffled archbishop, “All we really need in our convent is the tabernacle” (Msgr. Timothy M Dolan in “Priests of the Third Millennium” 2000 p. 218).
10. Blessed Imelda: Blessed Imelda, the Patron saint of First communicants: Blessed Imelda Lambertini had a remarkable experience of this love. She lived in Bologna, Italy, in the 1300s. She wanted to be a nun from the time she was a little girl, and she joined that Dominican convent at the age of nine, to better prepare herself for the day when she would take the habit. Her greatest desire was to receive Holy Communion, but in those days you had to be at least twelve-years- old to do so. Imelda begged for an exception to the rule, but the chaplain refused. She kept praying for special permission. Her prayers were miraculously answered on the Feast of the Ascension in 1333. After Mass, she stayed in her place in the chapel, where one of the nuns was putting away the sacred vessels. Suddenly, the nun heard a noise and turned towards Imelda. Hovering in mid air in front of Imelda as she knelt in prayer was a sacred host, the Blessed Eucharist, shining with a bright and forceful light. The frightened nun ran to find the chaplain. By the time the chaplain arrived, the rest of the nuns and other onlookers had crowded, awe-struck, into the chapel. When the priest saw the shining, hovering host, he put on his vestments, went over to the girl, took the miraculous host in his hands, and gave her Holy Communion. Some minutes later, after the crowd had dispersed, the mother superior came over to Imelda to call her for breakfast. She found the girl still kneeling, with a smile on her face. But Imelda was dead. She had died of love, in ecstasy after receiving Christ in the Eucharist. He had longed to be with her even more than she had longed to be with him. Blessed Imelda's body is incorrupt, and you can still see it today in the Church where she is interred, in Bologna. She is the patron saint of First Holy Communicants. (E- Priest).