Sunday, June 22, 2014

Corpus Christi

The Second Vatican Council teaches us that the Eucharist is the "Source and Summit" of our Church; of our faith.  The Paschal Mystery continues to be celebrated, and experienced, in the Eucharistic Celebration.  In the U.S. Bishops document, "Eucharist: Hungers of the Human Family," again the Bishops speak about the many gifts which Christ left his Church, and the Eucharist is the most cherished of all of those gifts.

I remember going on retreat twenty plus years ago whereas the director held the loaf of bread which that community used as communion bread.  He spoke about the labor that went into making the bread, and in sharing this loaf of bread, whether we be the bakers, farmers, Priest, or congregation,  we all have some participation in what happens at the Mass.  To be sure the sign and the symbol of the Eucharist supersedes our brokenness and gathers us together in joy and healing.

By the ritual actions which is our Mass, we are gathered together, affirmed and even challenged.  The Eucharist reminds us that the ways of the world are not our ways, thus challenging us to bear faithful witness to the Eucharist which we celebrate.  Perhaps this is why St John places so much emphasis on the washing of the Apostles feet in his Gospel.  The Body and Blood of Christ becomes real food for our journey so that we can go out and continue the ministry which Jesus has left us. 

The Eucharist becomes a reminder that we are not abandoned or left alone in the world.  But rather the grace that is available to us through the Eucharist is our promise, strength, and protection.  For many who are home bound, hospitalized, the poor, or in prison, find in the Eucharist solace and strength in order to meet the challenges of that particular moment.

My very favorite part of the ordination rite occurs after the priest is vested and the bread and wine are brought forward.  The newly ordained priest kneels before the Bishop, who hands the new priest the bread and wine, and instructs him to know what he is doing, and to imitate the mystery he celebrates.  These are powerful word for any one of us.  We are challenged to appreciate the Eucharist for what it really is, and to imitate its significance in spirit and in truth.

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