St. Peter Julian Eymard devoted himself to the Blessed Sacrament. Let us learn from him how to love Christ better. Read more about this saint by clicking on the picture!
A few weeks back, we celebrated Corpus Christi. This solemnity is a day we remember the Body and Blood of Christ present in the Eucharist. We recall the truth that he is fully present in the consecrated host and wine and recognize them as his flesh and blood. It is an essential truth that we believe as Catholics.
At the parish I was attending on this feast day, we heard briefly in the homily of what Corpus Christi was and that the Eucharist is the true presence. This should already be known to Catholics. However, instead of teaching further, a representative of the church council was called up to give an overview for the parish about changes and additions that are going to be made to help the community. I felt like I was at a parish council meeting.
To make things more awkward, the children that had received first communion the week before were invited back with their families in their outfits so that they could be congratulated again. They were told to stand up and be congratulated by the parish, where all the members applauded. Our attention was turned to ourselves, where our focus should have been directed to Jesus. In the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, “Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment.”
What happened that weekend at the parish I was at made me think of the feeling of being upstaged at a celebration that was meant for you. You invite all your loved ones to celebrate. You provide food and drink. You make sure to spend time generously with all that come. Then, people begin to turn all their attention to the television. I can imagine the hurt, and the feeling of being old news or of being unimportant.
On Corpus Christi, we are reminded of Christ’s sacrifice for us. We are reminded of the last supper, the passion, the death, and resurrection. All those things we celebrate any given Sunday, but Corpus Christi is devoted to recalling the very gift of Christ present in the Eucharist and its sacredness.
Sadly, so many of us treat the Eucharist and the act of receiving communion as a right and not as a gift and privilege. At times we can forget the significance of the Mass and the sacrifice that takes place, and we simply go through the motions without reverence to the person we have received.
We should all reflect daily on the gift of the Eucharist. And lets be real here: it should humble us immensely. After we receive the Eucharist, we should be quiet. We should silence our hearts and minds and just thank Jesus for being with us. We should beg for the grace we need to be better people, and offer our hearts to him and our lives as homage.
Pray for our parishes, for the body of Christ and her members, that we may all recognize the precious gift of the Eucharist. Let us call each other to love him better, especially in the Blessed Sacrament.
This past weekend, I had the absolute honor and pleasure of attending the Ordination to the Priesthood of one of my great friends, Fr. Stephen Marsh. He was ordained this weekend with three other men. Though it was a long journey, Fr. Steve has finally arrived, and this new chapter in his life has only just begun.
While being at his Ordination Mass, I was overcome with such gratefulness for our Priests and awe for their sacred office and how God is present to us in them. However I was also saddened to know that they are so often taken for granted, and that many Priests do and have grown cold.
When we look at Salvation History, we see throughout it the great lengths that God has taken to give us this gift of Salvation, to show us his unconditional love for us, as well has His mercy and justice. We see this in a big way in scripture with the levitical priests, who offered sacrifices on our behalf. We also see this through God giving the Israelites the Manna in the desert to nourish them.
With the death and resurrection of our Lord, this did not end. It changed. With our Priests, they offer the one unbloody sacrifice of our Lord on the cross, made present at the altar, for us and with us, at Mass. This was commanded by our Lord Himself that it be done. Jesus offers Himself to the Father and also nourishes us in the Eucharist, as he is the new Manna, the Bread of the Angels. He is present in the Eucharist in His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
What a great responsibility and gift our Priests have been given, being entrusted with this sacred duty of offering us the Sacraments, without which we would not be saved. It brings me to tears, this fact that Our God loves us so deeply, so that He deigned to make real to us now, make available to us now, through his Priests, our salvation. When we sin, and put this salvation at risk, with a firm resolution to never sin again, and a good confession, we can return to our Lord. What great mercy!
St. Francis de Sales said “O my child, bethink you that just as the bee, having gathered heaven’s dew and earth’s sweetest juices from amid the flowers, carries it to her hive; so the Priest, having taken the Saviour, God’s Own Son, Who came down from Heaven, the Son of Mary, Who sprang up as earth’s choicest flower, from the Altar, feeds you with that Bread of Sweetness and of all delight.’
We need to remember this gift always, and pray always for our Priests, that they remain good and holy, and always advancing in virtue. St. John Chrysostom said that “If priests sin, all the people are led to sin. Hence every one must render an account of his own sins; but the priests are also responsible for the sins of others.” What a great and divine duty our Priests have.
Please keep the newly Ordained Priests in your prayers, as well as all of our current Bishops, Cardinals, and Priests, that the love of God and His Church in those who have grown cold may blaze bigger than ever before, and for the rest, that their love for God and His Church would continue to strengthen and grow. May we always be grateful for our Priests, as without them, we would not have this great gift of Salvation available to us.
I’ve been trying to take my kids to daily Mass when I’ve had the opportunity. It has sort of been an experiment in patience, but so far it has gone pretty well, and I enjoy being able to teach my children about the faith in a more intimate setting. I’m not always sure how much my two little ones are actually absorbing, since they mostly seem preoccupied with going through every hymnal in the pew ad nauseum or trying to pick up the elusive Cheerio on the floor, left behind by another Sunday Mass-goer (proof that there ARE other young children at Mass! At least I hope that’s the reason…).
On our way out the door one morning my son started talking to me about angels, and that we were going to see angels at the church. Intrigued, I asked him what the angels were doing at church.
“Angels carry Jesus’ cross”
“Really? What else”
“Angels carry cross, and put it down. Open book for Jesus”.
Aspirations of my son’s mystical visions began dancing in my head as he animatedly continued his description.
“Open book. Jesus say ‘Lord be with you!’”
My excitement at having a great mystic for a toddler came tumbling to the ground as I understood he wasn’t talking about the angels and Jesus, but the priest and the altar servers. Apparently, in my attempts to teach my son about the True Presence in the Eucharist, I’ve only managed to confuse him into thinking that the priest is Jesus. It’s understandable, there certainly isn’t anyone else visibly up there when I point and say “Now, Jesus is here!” during consecration.
As for the angels, there are two twin girls who altar serve at our parish, who with their cherub-like corkscrew curls, and white altar serving vestments, do in fact, look an awful lot like the pictures of angels in many of my kids’ books.
I shook my head at the silliness of it all, and tried to explain to him who all these people truly in fact are, but I began to realize that my son had a point. In his child-like innocence he reminded me of the reality of the fact that Mass is heaven on earth. In that moment, the angels are present, ministering to Our Lord who is sacrificing Himself on the cross.
It reminded me of this little pamphlet I had seen years ago, left behind in the back pew in the Basilica. It detailed the testimony of Catalina Rivas in a vision where the Holy Mass was explained to her by Jesus and Mary. In it she says:
Immediately, the Archbishop said the words of the Consecration of the wine and, as the words were being said, lightning appeared from the heavens and in the background. The walls and ceiling of the church had disappeared. All was dark, but for that brilliant light from the Altar.
Suddenly, suspended in the air, I saw Jesus crucified. I saw Him from the head to the lower part of the chest. The cross beam of the Cross was sustained by some large, strong hands. From within this resplendent light, a small light, like a very brilliant, very small dove, came forth and flew swiftly all over the Church. It came to rest on the left shoulder of the Archbishop, who continued to appear as Jesus because I could distinguish His long hair, His luminous wounds, and His large body, but I could not see His Face.
Above was Jesus crucified, His head fallen upon His right shoulder. I was able to contemplate His face, beaten arms and torn flesh. On the right side of His chest, He had an injury, and blood was gushing out toward the left side, and toward the right side, what looked like water, but it was very brilliant. They were more like jets of light coming forth towards the faithful, and moving to the right and to the left. I was amazed at the amount of blood that was flowing out toward the Chalice. I thought it would overflow and stain the whole Altar, but not a single drop was spilled.
At that moment, the Virgin Mary said: “This is the miracle of miracles. I have said to you before that the Lord is not constrained by time and space. At the moment of the Consecration, all the assembly is taken to the foot of Calvary, at the instant of the crucifixion of Jesus.”
It’s easy to forget the enormity of what is happening during the Mass, to be dismissive even of all that is actually occurring unseen before our eyes. I often wish that God would just lift that veil and let us see all that we can’t. Then of course, the world would know, would understand, would come on bended knee before Our Lord and Maker in reverence and awe.
But would we? How could we approach Him if that veil was lifted? How could we in our wretchedness even dare to come close? I think in our fear and trembling we would hide and stay as far away as possible. So instead, He hides Himself, and all the glory that surrounds us when we step foot into a church and hear those words “This is My Body….This is My Blood”. There is so much hidden from our eyes during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, especially when distracted by the antics of a couple of toddlers, but my son reminded me of something important that day, and I’m going to try to see a little bit more from the heart, because he is right, there are angels at my church.