Thursday, June 7, 2012

"Take it; this is my body."

Two Sundays ago we celebrated Pentecost and last Sunday we celebrated the feast of the Blessed Trinity. This Sunday, June 10, 2012, we commemorate the Blessed Eucharist in the Feast of the Corpus Christi. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

There is a certain logic in this sequence of celebrations. Pentecost is the Birthday of the Church and on the Feast of the Blessed Trinity we look at the very nature of God himself. Today in the Feast of Corpus Christi we examine how God continues to make himself present to his Church, how he sustains and nourishes us. What is the meaning of this solemnity? Carmelite Father Giuseppe Midili, director of the Liturgical Office of the Vicariate of Rome, explains.

Indelicate Question

If there is any one Catholic doctrine that people have choked on over the centuries, it has to be transubstantiation – the teaching that, during the Mass, bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Why are you eating someone’s body and drinking his blood? Have you ever met anyone who finds this a bit hard to take?

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio says these problems started during Jesus’ public ministry, as John chapter 6 shows. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" (V52). “This is a hard saying who can listen to it?” (V60). In fact so many of his disciples abandoned him that Jesus asked the twelve if they also planned to quit. But when push comes to that famous shove, Fr. James Gilhooley says it doesn't matter what Mother Teresa or you or I believe about the Eucharist. What does matter is what Christ Himself believes about it. For the answer one must go to the record. Today's Gospel of Mark is as good a place to start as any.

We can also look to St Paul who asks, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the Blood of Christ? The Bread that we break, is it not a participation in the Body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though, many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf” (1 Cor 10:16-17). Our response is obvious, “Of course! How could it be otherwise?”

"This is My Body"

The Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, which we call the Eucharist, is not just one of the seven Sacraments. It is the supreme Christian Sacrament and, as Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm O.S.B. points out, it is presented as such in all the Gospels.

On the night before He suffered, Jesus gave the disciples His body and blood under the appearance of bread and wine. He told them to consume it. Fr. John Foley, S. J. explains to us that these would become re-presentations for all time of the bloody sacrifice on the cross, but now in an unbloody form. At the Mass, adds Fr. Alex McAllister, we are united with the Last Supper and there on the altar just as there in the Upper Room we receive the body and blood of Christ in the form of bread and wine.

Christ said to the Apostles, "Do this in memory of me." (Lk. 22:19) By this very Order Christ also conferred upon them the sacrament of Holy Order, a sacrament that is directly ordered to the celebration of the Eucharist. It is thus, explains Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen, that the sacrament of the Eucharist and that of Holy Orders are indissolubly linked. They have the same origin in the words of Jesus we have just cited.

"O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine"

One of the false statements made against Catholics is that we do not develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. But Fr. Joseph Pellegrino counters that not only do we speak directly to the Lord in our prayer life, the deepest treasure of our faith is our personal meeting with Christ every time we receive communion. The Eucharist as our most precious possession.

Fr. Phil Bloom reminds us that in spite of life's disappointments and tragedies - and in spite of our own sins and failings - the Eucharist always makes it through. It is thus both the sacrament that celebrates unity and the sacrament that cleanses us for it. At the Eucharist, Fr. Ron Rolheiser explains, our sins are forgiven because to touch Christ is to be healed, even of sin.

We receive our Lord Jesus under both species - Body and Blood. But not that the we receive more grace than when we receive it under one kind alone, but that we are enabled to apreciate vividly the value of the sign. Sadly, notes Father Paul Gunter, OSB , this distinction has not always been made clear. When not offered Holy Communion under both kinds, some people have expressed a feeling that Holy Communion under one kind alone was, to some extent, deficient.

By The Way That We Live

Most often we refer to the Eucharist as "communion". But we should understand that the communal aspect of the Eucharist is far more than a group of people sharing a meal. It is the union of those who share the Body of Christ into the Kingdom of God. It is, explains Father Cusick, the most effective source of God's grace by which we live as witnesses for generosity among the selfish, for reverence among the irreverent, for faith among the doubting, for hope among the despairing and for heroic love among the murderous and hateful.

Fr. Joseph Pellegrino adds that it is the way we thank God for the manifestations of His Love we experience in every aspect of our lives. We thank God in the Eucharist for giving us His Power to make His Presence real in the world. Thus it is most important to receive Eucharist and let each one of us remember that we ourselves carry Christ. Not in procession but everyday of our lives by the way that we live. Every time we receive the Eucharist, Fr. John Ludvik tells us, we go out on procession taking Christ into the world.

Worthy Reception of the Eucharist

Lately it seems that almost everyone attending Mass receives Communion. But only a very small percentage of them have recently been to Confession. To receive Communion worthily means to be free from mortal sin. Alas, Msgr. Charles Pope laments, very few of the faithful today have any notion of the requirement of receiving communion worthily.

But what about pro-Abortion politicians and remarried Catholics? Can they receive the sacrament? In his public document, Sacramentum Caritatis, Pope Benedict XVI has reaffirmed the Catholic Church's teaching that validly married Catholics who get divorced and remarry are
not to be given Holy Communion. He also talks about the aforementioned politicians in his discourse.

Also, did you know that you are required to fast before receiving Communion? Fr. William P. Saunders points to Canon 919 of the Code of Canon Law which states, "One who is to receive the most holy Eucharist is to abstain from any food or drink, with the exception of water and medicine, for at least the period of one hour before holy Communion." And now you know.

Understanding the Mass

Even Catholics who don’t know much about their faith have some vague awareness that they’re supposed to go to Mass on Sunday. Ask them to describe the Mass, though, and they might tell you that it involves an introduction, a conclusion, and a collection! This article by is Marcellino D'Ambrosio is a Five Part Series on Understanding the Mass. It is a wonderful primer all Catholics must read.

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf answers a reader who asks just what is the point of going to Mass when in the state of mortal sin. The good father offers a great response - and he throws in fire and brimstones into the mix fior good measure. To another reader who says he habitually arrives late for Mass, the good father explains whether Communion can still be worthily received. And for those who have developed the poor habit of leaving Mass immediately after Communion, Fr. Edward McNamara provides a theological discourse on why this is not appropriate behavior.

And if you're among the many parents who have to go to Mass with defiant toddlers, wiggly preschoolers and teething babies, Kate Wicker knows it can be anything but peaceful. For your Sunday morning scramble, she offers "7 Tips for Attending Mass With Young Children."

Eucharistic Adoration

For those who might not be familiar, Eucharistic Adoration or Benediction is the practice of “adoring” Our Lord in the Eucharist. Our Lord Jesus Christ, present to us as the consecrated bread and wine, is placed on the altar in the church. The faithful come to pray, worship and adore Him in this Blessed Sacrament.

To many, convincing themselves to sit for an hour in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament can be a real challenge. JonMarc Grodi offers advise. He says when you have decided you are ready to know God better, to seek truth and accept no substitutes, and to face not only your fears but also the desire, deep down, to really come to know God -- Eucharistic Adoration is a perfect place to start. Be open to the desire to know Him. Ask Him the perilous question: Are you there God?

Religious Freedom & Heresy

Rev. Robert Barron notes that in recent weeks, two prominent Catholic women—Kathleen Sibelius in an address to the graduates of Georgetown University’s public policy school, and Maureen Dowd in a column published in the New York Times - delivered strong statements about the Church’s role in civil society. Dowd‘s column was more or less a screed, while Sibelius’s address was relatively measured in tone. Yet both were marked by some pretty fundamental misunderstandings, which have, sadly, become widespread. Fr. Barron takes them n and explains why it's okay to be against heresy and for imposing one's will on others. This is timely advise to consider as the country winds up for the November elections amidst the real threats to religious freedom the Catholic Church is facing.

Dancing, Apologies & Cosmetic Surgery

'I Hope You Dance... ' is an inspiring tale about an 83 year old woman who wrote a letter to one of her friends. Shared by Paul Dion, STL, it's one of those emails fleeting through the internet that you just have to pass on to your friends. Martha Beck reflects on why the two words, "I'm sorry" can be the most rewarding. Always apologize, always explain, she urges us all. Meanwhile Dan McKean advises us to be careful to not judge too quickly. Better yet, he says we should not judge at all because most of the time we cannot see the ‘bees’. What exactly are these 'bees'? Read the story.

Finally, Nip, tuck sin? Botox anyone? Are they sinful? Simcha Fisher tells us what she thinks in her article.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief
BURNING QUESTION: Do you truly believe in the Real Presence at Mass?
FEATURED BLOG: Can divorced and remarried Catholics receive Communion?
PASTORAL HISPANA: Corpus Christi la fiesta de la presencia

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