The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) 1-page summary
Importance: 1) The last two precious gifts given to us by Jesus are the Holy Eucharist as our spiritual food on Holy Thursday and Jesus’ mother Mary as our spiritual Mother on Good Friday 2) Corpus Christi is the celebration of the abiding presence of a loving God as Emmanuel – God-with-us – in order to give collective thanks to our Lord for his living with us in the Eucharist. 3) The feast also gives us an occasion to learn more about the importance and value of the “Real Presence” so that we may appreciate it and better and receive maximum benefit from the Sacrament.
We believe in the “Real Presence” of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist because 1) Jesus promised it after miraculously feeding the 5000. 2) Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist during his Last Supper. 3) Jesus commanded his disciples to repeat it in his memory. 4) “Nothing is impossible for God.”
We explain the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist by: the Aristotelian philosophical term “transubstantiation” which means that the substance of the consecrated bread and wine is changed to the substance of the risen Jesus’ glorified Body and Blood by the action of the Holy Spirit, while its accidents (like color, shape, taste etc.), remain the same.
Scripture lessons: This year’s readings for this feast emphasize the theme of the priesthood of Jesus. Today’s first reading describes how the priest-king Melchizedek offered a thanksgiving-sacrifice of bread and wine to God for the welfare of the patriarch Abraham and shows how the event prefigured the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Priest-King Jesus. It is also as a sign of thanksgiving for Jesus’ victory won over sin and death. In the second reading, St. Paul gives the earliest account of what Jesus said and did during the last meal he celebrated with his followers, interpreting it as a sacrifice. Today’s Gospel describes Jesus’ miraculous feeding of five thousand people by multiplying five loaves of bread and two fish. Theologically, this feeding is a prefiguring of Jesus’ gift of the Eucharistic bread that would spiritually nourish those who believe in him.
A Sacrament and a sacrifice: Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist both as a sacramental banquet and a sacrificial offering. As a Sacrament, a) the Eucharist is a visible sign that gives us God’s grace and God’s life and, b) as a meal, it nourishes our souls. As a sacrifice a) the Eucharistic celebration is a re-presentation or re-enactment of Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary, completed in His Resurrection. b) We offer Jesus’ sacrifice to God the Father for the remission of our sins, using signs and symbols.
Life messages: 1) Let us appreciate the “Real Presence” of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, by receiving Him with true repentance for our sins, due preparation and reverence and spending time adoring him in the Blessed Sacrament.
2) Let us be 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, through love, mercy, forgiveness and humble and sacrificial service.
3) Let us offer our lives on the altar along with Jesus’ sacrifice, asking pardon for our sins, expressing gratitude for the blessings we have received and presenting our needs and petitions on the altar and by receiving him with due preparation in Holy Communion.
THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST L/19
(Gn 14:18-20; I Cor 11:23-26; Lk 9:11b-17)
Homily starter anecdotes # 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 he had spent 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. (Dennis Fisher) (http://www.smithvillechurch.org/html/body_remembering_jesus_on_the_moon.html) &(https://www.rbc.org/devotionals/our-daily-bread/2007/07/20/devotion.aspx)
(Email dated June 9, 2012: Dear Fr. Tony,
I read your anecdote ‘Communion on the Moon’ with some amusement. Buzz Aldrin was Roman Catholic. He was an altar server to an uncle of mine, Fr. Dennis Barry, in St. Martin’s Church, La Mesa, California. My uncle said Mass in his hotel room with Buzz as the altar server the day before his trip to the Moon, and I have photographs of that Mass with Buzz holding the wine and water at the Offertory. My uncle gave Buzz the Body of Christ to take to the Moon with him and that was his first ‘meal on the moon.’ I later met Buzz Aldrin at my uncle’s funeral in La Mesa in 1986. So, Buzz was not a Presbyterian. Thank you for your splendid service and keep up the good work. God Bless. Fr. Eddie Collins. email@example.com)) Fr. Tony’s comment: Probably Aldrin joined the Presbyterian Church following his remarriage after a divorce. You may check check http://www.snopes.com/glurge/communion.asp for a different version.
Introduction: The feast and its objectives: Today, we celebrate the solemn feast of Corpus Christi. It is three feasts in one: the feast of the Eucharistic sacrifice, the feast of the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the feast of the Real Presence of Jesus in this Sacrament. Corpus Christi is a doctrinal feast established for three purposes: 1) to give God collective thanks for Christ’s abiding presence with us in the Eucharist and to honor Him there; 2) to instruct the people in the Mystery, Faith and devotion surrounding the Eucharist, and 3) to teach us to appreciate and make use of the great gift of the Holy Eucharist, both as a Sacrament and as a sacrifice. In the three-year cycle of the Sunday liturgy, there is a different theme each year for this Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. In Cycle A the theme is the Eucharist as our food and drink; in Cycle B the emphasis is on the Eucharist as the sign of the covenant; and in Cycle C the theme focuses on the priesthood of Jesus. Although we celebrate the institution of the Holy Eucharist on Holy Thursday, the Church wants to emphasize its importance by a special feast, formerly called “Corpus Christi.” It was Pope Urban IV who first extended the feast to the universal Church. This is one of the few feasts left in which we observe a procession and a sung “Sequence.”
The historical development: 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, Corpus Christi was joined with the feast of the Precious Blood (July 1) to become the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord. We celebrate today Christ’s gift to us of the Eucharist, the source and summit of our life together as the Church. The Council of Trent (1545 to 1563), declared that we must honor Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist publicly so that those who observed the faith of Catholics in the Most Holy Eucharist might be attracted to the Eucharistic Lord and believe in the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, present in this great Sacrament. “The Catholic Church teaches that in the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of the God-man are really, truly, substantially, and abidingly present together with his soul and divinity by reason of the Transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. This takes place in the unbloody sacrifice of the Mass.”
The Biblical foundation: Our belief in this Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist derives from the literal interpretation of the promise of Christ to give us his Body and Blood for our spiritual food and drink, as found in St. John’s Gospel, Chapter 6, and also in the four independent accounts of the fulfillment of this promise at the Last Supper (Mt 26; Mk 14; Lk 22; 1 Cor 11). Eucharistic theologians explain the Real Presence by a process called transubstantiation: the entire substance of bread and wine is changed into the entire substance of the risen, living, and glorified Body and Blood of Christ, retaining only the “accidents” (taste, color, shape) of bread and wine. Can there be a religion in which God is closer to man than our Catholic Christianity? Jesus does not believe that he is humiliating himself in coming to us and giving himself to us in his Flesh and Blood to be our spiritual Food.
Scripture lessons: Today’s Scripture readings contain three themes: the Eucharist as blessing or praise of God (action of Melchizedek in Gn 14:18-20), the Eucharist as memorial of what Jesus did at the Last Supper (1 Cor 11:23-26) and the Eucharist as food for the multitudes (Lk 9:11b-17). The never-ending supply of bread with which Jesus fed the multitude prefigured his own Body, the consecrated Bread that sustains us until he comes again. The Eucharist is also a re-enactment of Christ’s sacrificial Self-giving. The Jews offered animal sacrifices to God, believing that life was in the blood, and the animal blood was a substitute for human lifeblood. Following this Jewish tradition, Jesus offered his own lifeblood as a substitute for the lifeblood of all human beings and, so, sealed the New Covenant made between God and humankind (1 Cor 11:25), bringing new life to the world. The Corpus Christi readings remind us of Jesus’ offering of his Body and Blood which serves in the Church as a lasting memorial of His saving death for us. We renew Jesus’ Covenant by participating in the banquet of his Body and Blood, a banquet that, through his death, gives us life.
First reading: Genesis 14:18-20, explained: Abram was the earlier name of the patriarch Abraham, founder of the Chosen People who became our ancestors in the Faith. This story tells us how Melchizedek, the neighboring Canaanite king and “priest of God Most High,” welcomed Abram as he returned after defeating some local “kings” who had kidnapped his brother Lot, and recovering from them the property they had previously captured from the King of Sodom. Both Melchizedek himself and the character of his offering prefigure Jesus. In an act of thanksgiving, this mysterious King of Salem and “priest of God Most High,” blessed Abram, offered bread and wine to God and shared these with Abram. Abram affirms his Faith in the true God (“the Lord, God Most High, Creator of Heaven and earth”) to Whom he has sworn an oath (v 22). Jesus became known as “a priest according to the order of Melchizedek”(Psalm 110:4). Jesus, priest and king, is the Eternal Priest and King of Kings who offered a sacrifice of Bread and Wine during his Last Supper. Jesus is infinitely greater than Melchizedek, in that He is the sacrifice and the offering, the Bread and Wine. Melchizedek offered a gift of gratitude to God. Jesus’ gift is also called the Eucharist, meaning thanksgiving. Like Melchizedek’s offering of gratitude to God, the Eucharist is our sacrifice of thanksgiving to God for all that He has accomplished in and through Jesus. Although the bread and wine mentioned in Genesis 14 are highly suggestive of the Eucharist for us, the sacrificial meal originally probably had no Eucharistic significance beyond reminding us of the hospitality which should be part of every celebration of the Lord’s Supper.
Second Reading, I Cor 11:23-26, explained: Today, on the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, we listen to Paul’s account of the Last Supper. This is one of the few places in his writings where Paul solemnly states that he is handing on a tradition possibly originating in the mid-30s. Paul supports the authenticity of his interpretation of the Last Supper of Jesus, describing it as a direct revelation received from the risen Jesus. Then he gives the earliest account of what Jesus said and did during the last meal he celebrated with his followers. The words Paul quotes are very similar to those ascribed to Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. This earliest written account of the institution of the Lord’s Supper in the New Testament emphasizes Jesus’ action of self-giving as expressed in the words over the bread and the cup and his double command to repeat his own action. Paul has to be very clear about his authority here, because he’s correcting the Corinthians severely. Misconduct at the Eucharist is one of several abuses for which the Apostle takes them to task. To proclaim the death of the Lord is to confess one’s Faith in the whole mystery of Christ and all that he means for us. The refusal of some of the Corinthian converts to imitate Jesus’ death by dying to their own vested interests had been creating chaos in Church gatherings. Paul believes that since Jesus gave us the Eucharist in the context of his dying for our sake, we should experience it only in the context of our dying to ourselves for his sake. Thus, all Christ’s disciples are challenged to promote community, to be united and to hold possessions in common.
Today’s Gospel (Lk 9:11-17): Theologically, the miraculous feeding of the crowd of five thousand men could be understood as a type or prefiguring of Jesus’ gift of the Eucharistic Bread that would spiritually nourish those who believed in him. Christologically, the taking, breaking and giving of the loaves anticipated the “taking” of Jesus in the garden, the “breaking” of his body during his passion and Jesus’ “giving” of himself as a sacrifice for the sins of humankind. The description of the miracle also points out the disciples’ role in the miraculous feeding of the multitude. Only after they give him what little they have can Jesus bless, break and give it back to them to distribute to the hungry crowd. Luke tells us that Jesus demands all his followers to “share what little they have” when they gather for the Lord’s Supper. No matter how insignificant or small our gift, it could be the very thing Jesus blesses to satisfy the hunger of those around us. To die by becoming one with each other and to die by sharing ourselves are at the heart of the Eucharist. If those elements are missing, our rubrics and actions are meaningless. In Greek the word koinonia is used by the Christian writers to describe both the Eucharistic communion and the communion of wealth. For the first Christian communities the two things were the same (cfr. Acts 2:42-45).
Exegesis: Theological significance: Vatican II states that as a sacrifice, “the Holy Eucharist is the center and culmination of Christian life” (Lumen Gentium, 11). Why? 1) because it enables us to participate in Christ’s sacrifice as a present reality and to benefit from its fruits in our own lives; 2) because it helps us to worship the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the most perfect way; 3) because it strengthens our charity and unity with Jesus and each other in a joint offering of his Body and Blood to the Father; and 4) because it gives us a lasting memorial of Christ’s suffering, death and Resurrection, reminding us of our obligation to make loving sacrifices for others. The Eucharist is the Mystery of our Faith, the mystery of our Hope, the mystery of our Charity. Why do we celebrate the Eucharist some 2,000 years later? We do this because Jesus told us to do so: “Do this in memory of me.” St. Augustine in the 5th century AD said it best when he said: “It is your Mystery, the Mystery of your life that has been placed on the altar.” This Holy Memorial is known by various names: 1) “the Eucharist” because Jesus offered himself to God the Father as an act of thanksgiving; 2) “the Lord’s Supper”–or “Breaking of the Bread”– because we celebrate it as a meal; 3) “Holy Communion,“ because we become one with Christ by receiving him; and 4) “Holy Mass” (holy sending), because it gives us a mission: “Go in peace, glorifying God by your life.”
Jesus replaces the Old Covenant with the New Covenant: Jesus instituted the Eucharist in deliberate allusion to, and fulfillment of, what happened on Mount Sinai. He replaced Moses as the God-chosen mediator, establishing the New Covenant promised through the prophet Jeremiah (Jer 31:31-34), by using his own Blood rather than that of sacrificial animals. By sacramentally consuming the Body and Blood of the God-Man, we, the final-age people of God, are interiorly transformed through the most perfect possible union with God. Jesus creates a faithful people intimately united with God by means of his sacramental Body and Blood.
The Jewish Passover is transformed into the Eucharistic celebration: Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist while eating the Passover meal, the feast on which the Jews gathered annually to commemorate their ancestors’ deliverance from Egyptian slavery. This foundational event began the night God “passed over” the Israelites while punishing their oppressors, who had resisted His will. Israel was “saved through the blood” of sacrificial lambs sprinkled on doorways. (There are some modern Bible scholars who doubt whether Jesus’ Last Supper was strictly a Passover meal because many items of the Passover meal are not mentioned). In the second half of today’s Gospel, Jesus’ words and gestures are understood as mediating the fullness of salvation through Blood that would be his own. That night he offered “the Blood of the (New) Covenant,” as Blood to be drunk rather than sprinkled. Moreover, since it was his own, this Blood needed no further identification with God by splashing against an altar. Finally, the Blood was “to be poured out for you and for many (a Semitism for ‘all’ , for the forgiveness of sins.” Thus, the new and perfect Paschal Lamb accomplished for people of every nation what Mosaic sacrifices only imperfectly achieved for the Jews. Giving of both “Body” and “Blood” establishes the context of Jesus’ sacrificial death, “the New and eternal Covenant,” sealed with his Blood.
The Sacrament and the sacrifice: Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist during the Last Supper as a Sacramental banquet and a sacrificial offering. As a Sacrament, the Holy Eucharist is an outward sign in and through which we meet Jesus who shares his life of grace with us. “In the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist, the Body and Blood, together with the soul and Divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained” (CCC #1374). In this Sacrament of the Eucharist, we do meet Jesus, the Risen Lord who comes to us under signs of Bread and Wine to nourish and strengthen us for our journey through life. The Eucharistic Meal is a great mystery because during the Eucharistic celebration the substance of bread and wine are converted into the substance of the risen Jesus’ Body and Blood, while their appearances (or ’accidents’) remain. We believe in this miraculous change of bread and wine (called Transubstantiation), because Jesus unequivocally taught it and authorized his apostles to repeat it. As a Sacrament, the Holy Eucharist imparts to us Jesus’ abiding presence in our souls. In addition, we share in his Divine life, which is an assurance of eternal life and the basis for the conviction that we are children of God the Father. God shares His life with Jesus and with all other people. The Eucharist is the Sacrament of our union with Jesus. In this Sacrament, Jesus gives us his own Body, broken for us on the cross and his precious Blood poured out for us, in order that our sins may be forgiven. The Eucharistic celebration is also a sacrifice because it is the re-presentation or re-living in an unbloody manner of Christ’s Death on Good Friday and of his Resurrection on Easter Sunday. By means of signs, symbols and prayers, we share in Christ’s passion, death and Resurrection, made really present for us in an unbloody manner. This re-presenting, this re-living of the One Sacrifice of Christ, which is the heart and point of every Mass, assures us of Jesus’ love for us and of his forgiveness of our sins. Through this sacrifice, the risen Jesus becomes present on the altar, offering himself to the Father through the ministry of the priest.
Life Messages: 1) We need to receive this 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. John Chrysostom says: “What is the Bread actually? The Body of Christ. What do communicants become? The Body of Christ. Just as the bread comes from many grains, which remain themselves and are not distinguished from one another because they are united, so we are united with Christ.” 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 seek union with one another, to allow the Holy Spirit to transform us into Our Lord Jesus Christ and to work with Him in the process. Christ is the Head and we are the Body, the members. Together we are one. That which unites us is our willingness to sacrifice our time and talents to God in 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.
2) We need to prepare properly to receive Holy Communion: We have tarnished God’s image within us through acts of impurity, injustice, disobedience and the like. 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 St. Paul: “Whoever, therefore, eats the Bread or drinks the Cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the Body and Blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the Bread and drink of the Cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the Body, eat and drink judgment against themselves.” [1 Cor. 11:27-9]. Hence, let us receive Holy Communion with fervent love and respect — not merely as a matter of routine. St. Paul is speaking also of the Mystical Body of Christ, i.e., the people of God gathered at the altar. Such a union, plainly, means that our outward piety towards the consecrated Bread and Wine cannot coexist with rudeness, unkindness, slander, cruelty, gossiping or any other breach of charity toward our brothers and sisters.
3) We need to 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 St. Augustine, “O Sacrament of devotion! O Sign of unity! O Bond of charity!” Let us also repeat St. Thomas Aquinas’ prayer of devotion in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament: “O Sacrament most holy! O Sacrament Divine! All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine!”
JOKE OF THE WEEK: “Do you think two cases of whiskey are enough?” There was to be a Baptismal party for the new baby of a soldier and his wife at their home on an Army base. Before the ceremony the chaplain took the new father aside. “Are you prepared for this solemn event?” he asked. “I guess so,” replied the soldier. “I’ve got two hams, pickles, bread, cake, cookies……” “No, no!” interrupted the chaplain. “I mean spiritually prepared!” “Well, I don’t know,” said the soldier thoughtfully. “Do you think two cases of whiskey are enough?” Beyond all that we hunger for is the hunger for spiritual nourishment. Sometimes people aren’t even aware that this exists. But Jesus realized this hunger and instituted the Holy Eucharist to feed our starving souls.
(Harold Buetow in “God Still Speaks: Listen!”)
32 -Additional anecdotes
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). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
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 woman 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 Blessed 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. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
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. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
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 midair 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). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
5) “Jesus Christ gave a lasting memorial”: One of his Catholic disciples asked the controversial godman Osho Rajneesh about the difference between Buddha the founder of Buddhism and Jesus Christ. He 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 ceremony. 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]. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
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. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
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). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
8) Another Eucharistic miracle: A famous Eucharistic miracle 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). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
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). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
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). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
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. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
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, the day is coming to a close, and life passes; death, judgment, eternity approach. It is necessary to renew my strength. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
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.) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
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). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
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) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
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 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 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 Veuster 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 that is for you,” and with the chalice of wine, “This Cup is the New Covenant in 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. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
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) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
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 Jesus was present 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 center of Eucharistic devotion and, perhaps unwittingly, the other forms were downgraded. 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. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
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). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
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.” (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
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 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). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
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). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
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). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
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.] (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
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 thousand 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). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
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]. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
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). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
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). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
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 centered on her daily Eucharist. Because she began her voluntary stint at a drug detoxification center each morning at 7.30 AM, the only Mass she could attend 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 Churchgoers. 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). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
30) Film -‘Eat Drink Man Woman’ A retired master chef, affectionately called Uncle Chu, lives with his three daughters and has lost his sense of taste. He is a widower of sixteen years and enjoys cooking for his family. There is a crisis at the restaurant where he worked, and he is called back to supervise a major banquet before it becomes a disaster. He saves the day but will not return to work full-time. Eat Drink Man Woman is a story of a family and its strained relationships. The recurring images of food and cooking give it a sensual texture that brings the emotional issues down to earth. It also celebrates the exquisite nature of food and love that goes into its preparation. Those who sit at the Taipei table at the special meal respect the daughter and her new husband, who is a Christian, and she leads them in a prayer of blessing. These are people, like people everywhere, who are seeking their place in the kingdom of God. The Chu family lives amid tension and their relationships are at various times estranged. They, like so many families the world over, are like the crowds in the Gospel because they need healing. The numerous cooking and eating sequences of the film remind us that food is a blessing. Jesus blessed food and while he gave only loaves and fish to feed the crowds, “they all ate and were satisfied.” (Peter Malone in ‘Lights, Camera, Faith!;’quoted by Fr. Botelho.) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
31) Solemn Eucharistic procession on Corpus Christi Sunday: Among the countless blessings that have enriched my life are the years I spent teaching Scripture at a College in East Africa. Among my most poignant memories of those years are the celebratory processions in honor of the Body and Blood of Christ. For days in advance of the feast, members of the local congregations gathered brilliantly colored flowers. The fuchsias, reds, whites and violets of the bougainvillea, the yellows and golds of the frangipani, along with an array of colored sands, palm branches, aromatic herbs and green leaves were artfully arranged in eucharistic designs and arranged on the dirt footpath over which the procession would travel. Chalices and crosses, baskets of bread, grapes and wheat sheaves bore silent but fragrant and colorful witness to the faith of the people. Bordering the pathway on both sides were young, verdant matoke plants, about eight feet in height. Steamed matoke or plantains are the main staple diet in many regions of East Africa. These had been cut down and posted along the procession route in honor of the one who had given himself to become the staff of life for the world. On the day of the feast, the entire congregation assembled, dressed in their best clothes; with one voice they sang their gratitude and praise while a band of drummers offered loud and lively accompaniment. Across the hills, each congregation could hear the echoes of its neighbors, similarly engaged in prayerful procession. In his commentary on today’s feast, Karl Rahner (The Great Church Year, Crossroad Publishing Co., New York: 1994) suggested that the procession is both the most external element associated with Corpus Christi as well as its most distinguishing factor. (Patricia Datchuck Sánchez). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
32) Melchizedek offering bread and wine: Although he is featured rarely in the Scriptures (this text, Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:6, 10; 6:20-7:22), Melchizedek has been frequently memorialized throughout many centuries of Christian art. Represented as both an historical and as a symbolic or typological figure, images of Melchizedek continue to grace the mosaics of St. Mary Major in Rome and in Saint Vitale in Ravenna, as well as the frescoes in the Vatican and the altarpiece in the monastery of Klosterneuberg. Historically, Melchizedek, the king-priest of Salem (Jerusalem), whose name means “my king is justice,” is usually portrayed as blessing Abram after his return from battle with the kings who had kidnapped his nephew, Lot. Symbolically and because of the Genesis author’s observation that he “brought out bread and wine” (v. 10), Melchizedek’s action was understood as a prefigurement of the Eucharist. For that reason, artists have portrayed him, dressed in priestly robes, with a miter and a crown, offering up wine and bread to God, even at times in the form of the eucharistic host. The belief that Melchizedek has been the king-priest of the ancient Jebusite city, Salem (Jerusalem), served to legitimize David chosen capital. Many scholars also regard this passage as an effort to lend support to the priesthood of Zadok which David initiated. Chosen by David to preside over the Jerusalem shrine (2 Samuel 8:17), Zadok was probably a member of an ancient Jebusite dynasty; therefore, it could be said of him that he was a priest “according to the order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:1-4). (Patricia Datchuck Sánchez). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/19
Prepared by:Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604.