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
Gospel: 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 in-corrupt, 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).
29 -Additional anecdotes: From Fr. Tony Kadavil
1) “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.]
2) 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 Italy, hoping that the change in climate might help her husband, whose failing business had eventually affected his health adversely. Tragically, he died in Liverno. The grieving young widow was warmly received by an Italian family, business acquaintances of her deceased husband. She stayed with them for three months before she could arrange to return to America. The young widow was very impressed by the Catholic faith of her host family, especially their devotion to the Holy Eucharist: their frequent attendance at Mass, the reverence with which they received Holy Communion, the awe they showed toward the Blessed Sacrament on feast days when the Eucharist was carried in procession. She found her broken heart healed by a hunger for this mysterious presence of the Lord, and, upon returning home, requested instruction in Catholic Faith. Soon after being received into the Church, she described her first reception of the Lord in the Eucharist as the happiest moment of her life. It was in St. Peter’s Square on September 14, 1975, that Pope Paul VI canonized this woman, Elizabeth Ann Seton, as the first native-born saint of the Unites States. The Eucharist for her was a sign and cause of union with God and the Church.
3) “I will not permit Christ to return to Albania as long as I am in charge.” 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 Albania as long as I am in charge.” In her reply after thanking the president for the reception Mother said, “Mr. President, you are wrong. I have brought not only the love of Christ into my native land but also the real presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist right into your presidential palace. I am allowed to carry Jesus in a pyx during my visit of this Communist country where public worship is a crime. I keep Jesus in the consecrated host in my pocket. Jesus will surely return to this country very soon.” Communist rule collapsed in Albania in 1992, and Christians and Muslims reopened their churches and mosques for worship. The non-Communist president of Albania, Mr. Ramiz Alia, awarded Albanian citizenship to Mother Teresa during her visit to her liberated home country in 1992. Mr. Alia also created a “Mother Teresa Prize” to be awarded to those who distinguished themselves in the field of humanitarian and charitable work.
4) 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 had 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).
5) “Jesus Christ gave a lasting memorial”: One of his Catholic disciples asked the controversial god-man Osho Rajneesh about the difference between Buddha the founder of Buddhism and Jesus Christ. Rajneesh told a story to distinguish between Buddha and Christ. When Buddha was on his deathbed, his disciple Anand asked him for a memorial and Buddha gave him a Jasmine flower. But as the flower dried up, the memory of Buddha also dwindled. Jesus Christ, however, instituted a lasting memorial without anybody’s asking for it, by offering to God his Body and Blood under the appearances of bread and wine and commanding his disciples to share his Divinity by repeating the offering. So Jesus continues to live in his followers while Buddha lives only in history books. On this feast, as on Holy Thursday, we reflect on the importance of the institution of the Holy Eucharist and priesthood. [Osho Rajneesh claimed that he was another incarnation of God who attained “enlightenment” at 29 when he was a professor of Hindu philosophy in Jabalpur University in India. He had thousands of followers for his controversial “liberation through sex theology,” based on Hindu, Buddhist and Christian theology].
6) Precious gift: We are all familiar with the situation of the little boy who wants to give his father a birthday present but does not have any money to buy one. His father, realizing his son is too young to make any money, slips him five bucks so that he can do some shopping the next time they are in town. The big day comes, and the little boy proudly presents his father with a beautifully wrapped, birthday gift. He is so very happy and proud of himself. So is his father - proud and happy to have such a loving son. God gave us his Son so that we could give him back as a gift and become once again his sons and daughters. Jesus Christ was placed in our hands so that we could have a gift, the best of gifts. During each Eucharistic celebration, we give this precious gift back to God the Father. (Fr. Jack Dorsel). Today we celebrate the feast of the Eucharist.
7) The Eucharistic miracle at the tomb of St. Christina, in Bolsena, Italy: Today we are reminded of a miracle that took place in 1263. A German priest, Peter of Prague, stopped at Bolsena while on a pilgrimage to Rome. He is described as being a pious priest, but one who found it difficult to believe in Transubstantiation. While celebrating Mass at the tomb of St. Christina, located in Bolsena, Italy, he had barely spoken the words of Consecration when blood started to seep from the consecrated Host and trickle over his hands onto the altar and the corporal. The priest was immediately confused. At first he attempted to hide the blood, but then he interrupted the Mass and asked to be taken to the neighboring city of Orvieto, the city where Pope Urban IV was then residing. The Pope listened to the priest’s story and gave him absolution for his lack of faith. He then sent emissaries for an immediate investigation. When all the facts were ascertained, he ordered the Bishop of the diocese to bring to Orvieto the Host and the linen cloth bearing the stains of blood. With archbishops, cardinals and other Church dignitaries in attendance, the Pope met the procession and, amid great pomp, had the relics placed in the cathedral. The linen corporal bearing the spots of blood is still reverently enshrined and exhibited in the Cathedral of Orvieto, Italy. Pope Urban IV was prompted by this miracle to commission St. Thomas Aquinas to compose the liturgical prayers in honor of the Eucharist. One year after the miracle, in August of 1264, Pope Urban IV introduced the saint’s compositions, and by means of a papal bull instituted the feast of Corpus Christi. (Fr. Eugene Lobo S.J. Rome).
8) Another Eucharistic miracle: A famous Eucharistic miracle is that of Lanciano, also in Italy, which took place in the year 700. A monk who feared he was losing his vocation was celebrating Mass, and during the consecration the host turned into flesh and the wine turned into blood Despite the fact that the miracle took place almost 1300 years ago, you may still see the flesh in a monstrance which is exposed every day and the blood in a glass chalice. (The glass chalice is beneath the monstrance on the right.) I also had the privilege of seeing that Eucharistic miracle during my time in Italy. The blood has congealed and is now in five clots in the glass chalice. In 1971 and 1981 a hospital laboratory tested the flesh and blood and discovered that the flesh is myocardium, which is heart muscular tissue, so we could say it is the heart of Jesus, the Sacred Heart, and the blood is of the blood group AB. In 1978 NASA scientists tested the blood on the Turin Shroud and interestingly also discovered that it is of the blood group AB. (The Sudarium, Face Cloth of Christ, in John 20:6 is also of the blood group AB.) Despite the fact that human flesh and blood should not have remained preserved for 1300 years, the hospital lab tests found no trace of any preservatives. One final interesting point about the five blood clots in the chalice is that when you weigh one of them, it is the same weight as all five together, two of them together weigh the same as all five. In fact no matter what way you combine the blood clots individually or in a group to weigh them, they always weigh the same. (This shows that the full Jesus is present in a particle of the Eucharist no matter how small.) These are two Eucharistic miracles I have seen and which have been authenticated by the Church after investigation. (Fr. Tommy Lane).
9) Blood Brothers: Jesuit Ignacio Ellacuria of El Salvador, Franciscan Maximilian Kolbe of Poland, Sr. Rani Maria, an Australian missionary, and Graham Staines murdered in north India, appear very diverse in their lifestyles, yet little divided them in death. All these are martyrs who shed their blood that others might live. They represent modern ‘bodies of Christ.' Today, celebrating the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, we could reflect on the sacramental symbols of Blood and Body and our Christian calling. -Some years ago, Jesuit philosophers of Satya Nilayam in South India, formed a group called ‘Blood Brothers’ comprised of students who were willing to donate blood regularly. Indeed, we are all truly ‘Blood brothers and sisters,’ saved by the supreme sacrifice of our elder Blood Brother, Jesus. Moreover, Martyrs like Ellacuria, Kolbe, Staines and Rani Maria are but representatives of a long list of ‘Blood brothers and sisters’ whose life was truly Eucharistic. May the Corpus Christi called "Church" be ever willing to break itself and bleed in selfless service of society at large. (Francis Gonsalves in Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
10) The Blessing Cup: Leonardo da Vinci was 43 years old when the Duke of Milan asked him to paint the Last Supper. He worked on it slowly and with meticulous attention 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; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
11) “Are you guys Dominicans?” Fr. Denis likes to tell a story about an American paratrooper in World War II who got entangled in a tree and couldn’t get down. He was terribly afraid that he had come down behind enemy lines and would be killed. Then two men dressed in civilian clothes came by so the GI quickly called out, “Can you tell me where I am?” “Indeed we can,” said one - “You are up in a tree.” There was a long pause, and then the paratrooper asked suspiciously, “Are you guys Dominicans?” “Yes, but how could you tell?” The GI replied, “I knew because what you say is perfectly true - but it doesn’t help me to get out of this tree!” Likewise, to describe Catholic belief about the Holy Eucharist by saying that it is the Body and Blood of Christ is true, but not very helpful unless we are convinced of this truth, appreciate this great gift and experience it in our lives.
12) St. Padre Pio’s prayer of thanksgiving after Mass.
“Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You. You know how easily I abandon You.
Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak and I need Your strength, that I may not fall so often.
Stay with me, Lord, for You are my life, and without You, I am without fervor.
Stay with me, Lord, for You are my light, and without You, I am in darkness.
Stay with me, Lord, to show me Your will.
Stay with me, Lord, so that I hear Your voice and follow You.
Stay with me, Lord, for I desire to love You very much, and always be in Your company.
Stay with me, Lord, if You wish me to be faithful to You.
Stay with me, Lord, for as poor as my soul is, I want it to be a place of consolation for You, a nest of love.
Stay with me, Jesus, for it is getting late and the day is coming to a close, and life passes; death, judgment, eternity approach. It is necessary to renew my strength.
13) The Mass is Heaven on earth! Scott Hahn was a Protestant minister, who had for twenty years studied the Book of Revelation. He admits that, in trying to study Revelation, he felt like a person standing before a locked door, searching for the right key on a keychain. There was no key that fitted, until he linked the Book of Revelation to the Mass. And that, in his opinion, is the right key. His experience thereafter was so inspiring that a year later, he asked to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church. This in a nutshell, is his thesis: The key to understanding the Book of Revelation is the Mass. Stated differently; the Mass is the only way a Christian can truly make sense of the Book of Revelation. Today, Dr. Scott Hahn, a happily married man and father of six children, is a Professor of Theology and Scripture in a University and the Director of the Institute of Applied Biblical Studies. -Scott Hahn is candid and realistic when he observes that, for most Catholics, the Sunday Mass is anything but Heavenly. In fact, he frankly adds, it's often an uncomfortable hour, punctuated by babies screaming, bland hymns sung off-key, meandering and pointless homilies, and people dressed as if they were going to a party, picnic or football game. Yet, this is his conviction: "When we go to Mass every Sunday, we go to Heaven. And this is true of every Mass we attend, regardless of the quality of the music or the fervour of the preacher. The Mass -and I mean every single Mass -is Heaven on earth."
[James Valladares in Your Words are Spirit, and They Are Life; quoted by Fr. Botelho.]
[James Valladares in Your Words are Spirit, and They Are Life; quoted by Fr. Botelho.]
14) Body of Christ? Sometime ago I was in Washington, D.C. in the National Shrine. A dozen or so pilgrims came out of the grandiose basilica. They had participated in a Mass, they had received Holy Communion, forming with Him, his Body and Blood. I saw them, and I even saw a blind man who had received Communion with them. They came out of the Church together with him. He walked among them tapping the pavement in front of himself with his stick. He did not see them since he was blind but he must have been aware of them all talking excitedly, feeling a bit lost in a strange place. They did not see him, either, though they were not blind. He ended up in the midst of them. Someone stepped on his cane, bending it, while he was pushed on. They left him alone trying to straighten his cane. They had all been to Holy Communion together in Jesus, who said of all of them: "This is my Body, this is my Blood!" Yet, when it came to everyday life, that reality got lost, the Body did not seem to have been formed. They were not really in communion. They did not really form His Body, our Body. Did they? Do we? [Joseph G. Donders in Praying and Preaching the Sunday Gospel; quoted by Fr. Botelho.]
15) What are they hungry for? An American priest was invited to take part in a youth rally in Canada. About 700 young people were camping out in a large park for the weekend. Their program included workshops on such topics as dating, sexual morality, drugs, peer pressure and meditation. The organizers felt that the least popular workshop would be the one on meditation. They were in for a big surprise. It was the best-attended workshop of the weekend. At one point in that workshop, the priest giving it sensed a profound presence of the Holy Spirit and invited the 200 participants to pray together. The response was amazing. Afterwards the priest said, "It was one of the most moving experiences in all my years of priestly ministry." Then alluding to the image in today's Gospel he said: "There's a whole mountain-side full of young people out there who want to eat, but there's no one to feed them. There's a whole mountain-side full of young people out there who want to pray but there's no one to teach them." The priest's remark merely paraphrases what Jesus said in Matthew's Gospel. (Quoted by Fr. Botelho)
16) Source of Christian heroism: I'd like to begin this Corpus Christi homily with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi. He asked a question regarding the Fr. Damien: "The political and journalistic world can boast of very few heroes who compare with Father Damien of Molokai. The Catholic Church, on the contrary, counts by the thousands those who after the example of Fr. Damien have devoted themselves to the victims of leprosy. It is worthwhile to look for the sources of such heroism." That's a great question: What is the source of the heroism of people like St. Damien of Molokai and his successor, St. Marianne Cope? We get the answer this Sunday. In today's readings, St. Paul tells how Jesus took bread and said, "This is my Body," and with the chalice of wine, "This is the covenant of my Blood." Then St. Paul concludes, "As often as you eat this Bread and drink this Cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes."
When we receive Communion - the Body and Blood of Jesus - we mystically enter his death and Resurrection. That should give us strength - strength to spend our lives in service. Now, you and I are not St. Damien or St. Marianne, but the Eucharist calls us - like them - to give our lives for others.
17) "What kind of joke is this?" A priest I heard of, if he sees people leave early, stops them and reminds them that only one person left the Last Supper early! Well, I am not going to do that, but I am tempted to do what St. Philip Neri did: He saw someone leaving church right after Communion and he sent servers with candles and bells to accompany the man. The guy stormed back into the Church and confronted the priest. "What kind of joke is this?" he demanded. St. Philip Neri said, "It's no joke. The rules of the liturgy say the Blessed Sacrament should be treated with reverence. You left the Church immediately with no prayer of thanksgiving. You were carrying the Blessed Sacrament within you. So I asked the boys to accompany you to honor Him." After Communion you and I are tabernacles - the physical presence of Jesus continues in us for a brief time. That's why we have the Communion hymn, a time of silence, the Communion Prayer -- and even the announcements, to build up the Body of Christ in practical ways. I encourage you to use well the time after Communion to say thanks, to express your gratitude. (Fr. Phil Bloom)
18) “Body of Christ” A modern tourist in cities like Paris and Rome, and particularly the latter, cannot but be struck by the extraordinary number of Churches and their close proximity to each other. They all derive from the devotion to Corpus Christi which originated in the twelfth century and whose feast we celebrate today. It began in the city of Liege in northern France, under Bishop Robert Thourotte of Liege, persuaded by St. Juliana of Cornillion. Urban IV in 1264 extended the feast to the Universal Church. After Urban’s death, October 2, 1264, the feast was restricted to certain areas of France, Germany Hungary and northern Italy, but in 1317 Pope John XXII (served August 7, 1316 through December 4, 1334), reintroduced the Feast to the Universal Church (Instruction by Pope Benedict XVI at the General audience celebrated in St. Peter’s Square, November 17, 2010).
By the fifteenth century Corpus Christi had become the principal feast of the Church almost everywhere. Every city, town and village held its Corpus Christi procession. In some places it became the social event on the calendar. Months were spent preparing for it. Guilds competed with each other to provide the most colourful contribution. Cities like Paris had their timber-built houses arranged in narrow streets, where humans and animals lived closely together in squalor. In such a world, it was little wonder that the Corpus Christi devotion had such enormous appeal. What greater protection could they ask for than the Body of Christ, carried in procession through their streets to inoculate them against all such infections?
After well over a thousand years of Christianity, the Real Presence, Christ’s continuing presence in the consecrated Bread, came to dominate the devotional life of the people. New devotions were developed such as visits to and Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The idea that no place was too good to house the body of Christ, led to the building of larger and more ornate churches. It became the age of the great Cathedrals, like Notre Dame and Chartres. Changes were introduced into the Mass itself to reflect this new devotion; in particular, the elevation was introduced after the consecration. For medieval Christians, there were real and down-to-earth reasons why the Body and Blood of Christ should be raised. Blindness was a common affliction then, and people believed that looking at the Body of Christ was the best protection against it. Bowing to popular pressure, the Church permitted it. The elevation of the chalice was an after-thought because the church feared that the people might believe in only one species. This background helps to explain the close proximity of Churches in cities like Paris and Rome. Elevations were much in demand and people rushed from one church to another just to watch the elevation. Such Eucharistic devotions dominated religious practice right down to the Second Vatican Council. There the Church wisely decided that the Mass needed to be restored as the centre of Eucharistic devotion and, perhaps unwittingly, the other forms were down-graded. Within a generation, visits, Benedictions, expositions and Corpus Christi processions had virtually disappeared. The Bread remained, the circuses had gone. And we are the poorer for it. (Rev. Liam Swords) Biblical IE.
19) History of the feast: In 1246, Bishop Robert Thourotte of the Belgian diocese of Liège, at the suggestion of St. Juliana of Mont Cornillion (also in Belgium), convened a synod and instituted the celebration of the feast. From Liège, the celebration began to spread, and, on September 8, 1264, Pope Urban IV issued the papal bull "Transiturus," which established the Feast of Corpus Christi as a universal feast of the Church, to be celebrated on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday. At the request of Pope Urban IV, St. Thomas Aquinas composed the office (the official prayers of the Church) for the feast. This office is widely considered one of the most beautiful in the traditional Roman Breviary (the official prayer book of the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours), and it is the source of the famous Eucharistic hymns "Pange Lingua Gloriosi" and "Tantum Ergo Sacramentum." For centuries after the celebration was extended to the universal Church, the feast was also celebrated with a Eucharistic procession, in which the Sacred Host was carried throughout the town, accompanied by hymns and litanies. The faithful would venerate the Body of Christ as the procession passed by. In recent years, this practice has almost disappeared, though some parishes still hold a brief procession around the outside of the parish church. While the Feast of Corpus Christi is one of the ten Holy Days of Obligation in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, in some countries, including the United States, the feast has been transferred to the following Sunday. (Fr. Hoisington).
20) Pope Benedict’s preference for receiving Holy Communion on tongue: “I am not opposed in principle to Communion in the hand; I have both administered and received Communion in this way myself. The idea behind my current practice of having people kneel to receive Communion on the tongue was to send a signal and to underscore the Real Presence with an exclamation point. One important reason is that there is a great danger of superficiality precisely in the kinds of Mass events we hold at Saint Peter’s, both in the Basilica and in the Square. I have heard of people who, after receiving Communion, stick the Host in their wallet to take home as a kind of souvenir. In this context, where people think that everyone is just automatically supposed to receive Communion — everyone else is going up, so I will, too—I wanted to send a clear signal. I wanted it to be clear: Something quite special is going on here! He is here, the One before whom we fall on our knees! Pay attention! This is not just some social ritual in which we can take part if we want to."
21) Visiting the Tabernacle (with a quotation from St Peter Julian Eymard): This is why Catholics still practice the ancient tradition of making frequent visits to the Eucharist throughout the day. Even in big cities today, when you go into a Catholic Church, you can almost always find someone kneeling before the altar where the Tabernacle is kept. The red candle burning near the tabernacle, the sanctuary, or the Presence, lamp, is a constant reminder that Christ is truly present there, and his love is burning for us. This is also why Catholics still have the tradition of making the sign of the cross when they drive by a Catholic Church. Even if we don't have time to stop and make a visit to our Lord, to thank him for his blessings and tell him all our needs and sorrows, by making the sign of the cross we show our Faith in and appreciation for his constant, miraculous presence. St Peter Julian Eymard [AYE-mard], who lived in France in the 1800s, beautifully explained how Christ's constant presence in the Eucharist shows, without a doubt, that Jesus' love for us, even for the most hardened sinner, has no limits. Speaking of Jesus in the Eucharist, St Peter says: "He loves, He hopes, He waits. If He came down on our altars on certain days only, some sinner, on being moved to repentance, might have to look for Him, and not finding Him, might have to wait. Our Lord prefers to wait Himself for the sinner for years rather than keep him waiting one instant." (E-Priest).
22) Saints’ favorite food: Throughout the history of the Church, God has made the power of the Eucharist clear in many ways. • For example, some of the saints have gone for long periods of their lives in which their only food was the Eucharist. • I know it sounds hard to believe. • If there were only one or two cases, it would be reasonable to be skeptical. • But it actually happens every couple generations, as if God wants to make sure we don't forget what's really going on in the Eucharist. In the 1300's, St Catherine of Siena often went for months at a time living solely on the Holy Eucharist. In the 1400s, St Nicholas of Flue, Switzerland's great native saint, spent the last 19 years of his life as a hermit. • He would give spiritual advice all day and pray all night. • For those 19 years, he was unable to eat any food. • The Holy Eucharist was his only nourishment. In April, 2004, Pope John Paul II beatified Blessed Alejandrina Maria da Costa, a Portuguese peasant girl. •Paralyzed at age 14, she spent her life offering her sufferings and prayers to God for the conversion of sinners. • She died in 1955, at age 51. • For the last 13 years of her life, Alejandrina ate and drank nothing except her daily Holy Communion. • Since she lived in the age of modern science, she given countless medical studies, none of which found a natural explanation. (E-Priest).
23) St Juliana Falconieri's Miraculous Final Communion: All the saints realize how much we need this Divine nourishment. St Juliana Falconieri [fahl-cone-YAIR-ee] had a particularly passionate devotion to this truth of our Faith. • Juliana lived in Florence, Italy, in the early Renaissance. • When she was 14, her mother began arranging a marriage for her. • As soon as she found out, she objected, explaining that she wanted to consecrate her life to Christ. • At first her mother resisted, but Juliana's vocation was undeniable, and eventually she took the habit as a Third Order Servite. • Later, she helped start a new Order of Servite nuns, dedicated to prayer and serving the sick. • Throughout the long, hard years of foundation, she received Holy Communion three times a week - much more often than was normal for those times. • But in her later years, chronic sickness made her unable to consume anything solid. • Even while on her deathbed, frequent fits of vomiting made it impossible for her to receive Communion. • But when she knew her last hour had come, she was inflamed with a desire to receive Holy Communion one last time. • So she asked the priest to lay a corporal (the white cloth put on top of the altar for the liturgy of the Eucharist) on her chest and place the consecrated host on top of it. • No sooner had the Eucharist been laid over her heart than it disappeared, being miraculously consumed directly into her body. • She died soon after, and as they were preparing the body for burial, they found the sign of the cross that had been on the host emblazoned on her skin. • Ever since, the Servites have kept an image of a shining host on the left front side of their habits. The Eucharist is food from heaven, given to us by Christ to bring us to heaven. (E-Priest).
24) Two fundamental needs: Ethiopia suffered a terrible famine during the years 1984 to 1986. Cardinal Hume of Westminster tells us about an incident that happened when he visited Ethiopia in the middle of the famine. One of the places he visited was a settlement in the hills where the people were waiting for food which was likely to arrive. He was taken there by helicopter. As he got out of the helicopter a small boy, aged about ten, came up to him and took his hand. He was wearing nothing but a loincloth around his waist. The whole time that the cardinal was there the little child would not let go of his hand. As they went around he made two gestures: with one hand he pointed to his mouth, and with the other he took the cardinal's hand and rubbed it on his cheek. Later, the cardinal said, "Here was an orphan boy who was lost and starving. Yet by two simple gestures he indicated two fundamental needs or hungers. With one gesture he showed me his hunger for food, and with the other his hunger for love. I have never forgotten that incident, and to this day I wonder whether that child is alive." [Flor McCarthy in New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho.]
25) How can God be present in a tiny host? Some time ago, a street-corner preacher who knew how to make religious truths come to life was faced by a hostile crowd. "How," one of them demanded, "is it possible for bread and wine to become the Body and Blood of Christ?" The preacher looked calmly at the stout questioner for a moment and answered, "You have grown somewhat since you were a child and have more flesh and blood than you had then. Surely, if a human body can change food and drink into flesh and blood, God can do it too." "But how," countered the heckler, "is it possible for Christ to be present in his entirety in a small host?" The preacher glanced up at the sky and down at the street before them and answered, "This city scene and the sky above it is something immense, while your eye is very small. Yet your eye in itself contains the whole picture. When you consider this, it won't seem impossible for Christ to be present in his entirety in a little piece of bread." Once more the heckler attacked. "How, then, is it possible for the same Body of Christ to be present in all your churches at the same time?" The preacher's answer: "In a large mirror you see your image reflected but once. When you break the mirror into a thousand pieces, you see the same image of yourself in each of the hundred fragments. If such things occur in everyday life, why should it be impossible for the body of Christ to be present in many places at once? Just tell me, what isn't possible for God? [Harold Buetow in God Still Speaks: Listen! quoted by Fr. Botelho.]
26) A Missionary Gets Muddy: The Eucharist is one of the great proofs of God's trustworthiness - Christ faithfully present through the ups and downs of twenty centuries. A true story about a missionary illustrates this well. Fr. Meehus was working in a small village in rural China during the Sino-Japanese war. As Japanese soldiers neared the village, the priest led his congregation of orphans into hiding in the nearby hills. Safe in a cave, he counted eighty children - everyone was there. Then one of the boys spoke up, "Father, someone is missing." They counted again - still 80. But the boy insisted. The priest asked, "Who is it, who's missing?" The boy answered, " We left Jesus in the Tabernacle." Father moaned - in his rushed escape, he had forgotten to bring the Blessed Sacrament. He made a quick decision. He had the children smear him with mud, telling them that he was going to be a commando (which they thought was fun). Then he went out, slipped through enemy lines, crept to the Church, and tip-toed up to the Tabernacle, praying in the silence of his heart: "Jesus, I'm sorry I have to come for You this way; You might not recognize me with all this mud... I am in disguise now, but this is really and truly the one who has held You in his hands many mornings at Mass." And in his heart, the priest heard God answering him: "Of course I recognize you... I am in disguise too. A lot of people don't recognize Me either; but in spite of appearances, I am Jesus, your friend, and I hold you in My hands from morning until night." When the soldiers left, the priest and his congregation carried Jesus in a triumphant procession back to the Tabernacle. When trusting God is hard, a glance at the Eucharist - the sign of God's faithfulness - can make all the difference. [Adapted from Msgr. Arthur Tonne's Stories for Sermons].
27) 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; quoted by Fr. Kayala).
28) 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; quoted by (Fr. Kayala).
29) 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 AM., the only Mass she could reach was at 5:30 AM. 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 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; quoted by Fr. Kayala).