Corpus Christi

“Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day (John 6:45).”

Last Sunday was the Feast of Corpus Christi which is Latin for the Body of Christ. We express our thanks to God at every Holy Mass when we have the opportunity to receive Jesus who is actually present in the Sacred Host and Precious Blood.

St. John Paul II, in his 2003 Papal Encyclical on the Holy Eucharist, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, praised the hymns and poems of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi saying, “Let us make our own the words of Saint Thomas Aquinas, an eminent theologian and an impassioned poet of Christ in the Eucharist, and turn in hope to the contemplation of that goal to which our hearts aspire in their thirst for joy and peace (33).” Each of the hymns and poems written by St. Thomas Aquinas for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, or the Body and Blood of Christ, is anointed and draws the one who prays with them into deeper places of encounter with Jesus who is present in the Blessed Sacrament.

St. Thomas Aquinas, saint and doctor of the Catholic Church, is perhaps best known for his theological writings, such as the two Summas (Summa Theologica and Summa Contra Gentiles), which are bulwarks of Catholic theology. Popes from St. Pius V to Benedict XVI have praised his works and even Canon Law recommends that his works be studied by seminary students in their preparation for priesthood. Beyond those works, however, and the foundation they provide for Catholic Theology, St. Thomas Aquinas’ hymns for the great Solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ are also influential works for us today, as they give us the language of worship and devotion to the Holy Eucharist.

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote the liturgy for Corpus Christi when Pope Urban IV added the Solemnity to the universal Church’s liturgical calendar in 1264. At the request of Pope Urban, St. Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican friar, began to spend more time than usual in prayer and contemplation before the Blessed Sacrament. From his time in prayer he wrote the sequence, Lauda Sion Salvatorem (Sion, Lift Up Thy Voice and Sing), for Corpus Christi, as well as the hymn for evening prayer known as the Pange Lingua (Sing, Tongue, the Mystery of the Glorious Body), from which we sung this weekend at Benediction the last two verses that make the Tantum Ergo (Down in Adoration Falling).

A translation of those verses draws us in prayer:

Down in adoration falling!
This great Sacrament we hail!
Over ancient forms of worship,
Newer rites of grace prevail;
Faith will tell us Christ is present,
When our human senses fail.

To the Everlasting Father,
And the Son Who made us free,
And the Spirit, God proceeding
From them Each eternally,
Be salvation, honor, blessing,
Might, and endless majesty. Amen.

Jesus in the Eucharist

“Stay with us Lord, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over (Luke 24:29).”

The deepest desire of the human heart is to remain always in Jesus. Last Sunday’s scripture account of the Resurrection points to those followers of Jesus who were traveling from Jerusalem back to their homes in Emmaus after the events of the Passion. We are given a clue as to who the two disciples are who meter Jesus on the way. After Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene in the garden early in the morning after the resurrection, He appears to a man and his wife: Cleopas and Mary.

They probably knew Jesus well and followed him closely. Jesus stirred their hearts with longing years before from the accounts of the miracles and authoritative teaching that they listened to. This couple more than likely was present for some of the key moments such as the procession into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday as well as standing in helpless disbelief as the Christ was paraded through the streets towards Calvary. This particular Mary was very close  to Jesus as we read, “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister Mary the wife of Cleopas and Mary Magdalene (John 19:25).”

With this information one can conclude that Jesus appeared to close relatives on the way to Emmaus. Because Jesus appeared in His glorified or perfected form they, like Mary Magdalene, did not recognize Him at first. It was not until Jesus explained the scriptures that referred to God the Father’s plan of salvation and then finally broke the bread that their eyes were opened and they were able to see the Savior in their midst. This caused Cleopas and Mary to exclaim, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us (Luke 24:32)?”

As Christians, we need to reflect on the Word of God anew and see the Eucharistic celebration opened to us with fresh eyes. It can happen to any of us that we try to look for Jesus in fads and in over-the-top ways, and all the while He is in our midst teaching our souls in the way of love and mercy through the basic modes of Scripture and the Holy Mass.

Pray for the grace today to hear the Scriptures clearly, to see Jesus present in the Eucharist, and to feel the burning fire of God’s love in our hearts.

Drawing Strength from God

“One thing I ask of the Lord, to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” (Psalm 27)

Since our secular life is constantly pushing and pulling us in different directions, it is hard for us to focus on that one important reality: to dwell in the house of the Lord. The goal of our Christian living is to be one with God. That union helps purify our hearts from all unnecessary desires.

Jesus specifically gives us the Eucharist for no other purpose than to allow us to be united with him. The Eucharist is made for us. God lives in us and we remain in Him. In that union we pray unceasingly. Our desire for God is the living expression of our prayer.

Just as the body cannot live without air, our soul cannot live without constantly drawing strength from God.

 

The True Way of Being a Christian

The Eucharist reveals something that people do not always see: The death of Jesus. That is why we proclaim, “When we eat this bread, we proclaim your death, Lord Jesus.” At Mass the altar is the hill of Calvary, which is the place of sacrifice where Jesus died.

Just as Jesus died on the cross as the Lamb that was slaughtered and offered to God, Christians follow the example of Jesus and offer ourselves to God through the symbols of bread, wine and water. Few people are aware of the fact that when we enter the church we approach the place of our own sacrifice.

Christian life therefore is a life of sacrifice. The more we become a person for others, the more we imitate the self giving example of Jesus. The Eucharist shows the way to become a disciple of Jesus through self giving work and volunteering opportunities. Our daily sacrifices are united with the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus. That is the true way of being a Christian.

 

RCIA Candidate

Rite of Election & Call to Continuing Conversion for the eastern part of the Diocese was held at Resurrection Church Saturday, February 13. This was the combined Rite for those not Baptized and the Baptized toward Full Communion in the Catholic Church. The Rite ushers in the Season of Lent, a time of Retreat for the Believers with a period of Purification & Enlightenment for those on journey to Easter and Full Communion.

Bishop Quinn welcomed & recognized the Catechumens & the Candidates. The Godparent, Sponsor & Assembly affirmed and prayed for the Elect & Candidates. Kristopher Klinger of St. Francis De Sales is a candidate journeying toward Full Communion at Easter. Continue to encourage and pray for him.