Thursday, May 30, 2013

"They all ate and were satisfied."

This Sunday, June 2, 2013, is Corpus Christi Sunday and our Sunday Readings celebrate the great gift of Communion. The Church seeks to reconfirm our belief in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in our liturgy. Let's humbly ask the Lord that we may receive him in a way that will lead to salvation. Our Discussion Questions this week will guide your bible study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

The Real Presence of Jesus Christ

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. Have you ever met anyone who finds this a bit hard to take? If so, you shouldn’t be surprised. When Jesus spoke about eating his flesh and drinking his blood in John 6, the response was less than enthusiastic.

Marcellino D'Ambrosio explains further that in addition to the Eucharist, during Mass Christ is also present  in the priest and in the congregation. People may arrive distracted and pre-occupied, but as they enter that church they’re members of Christ’s body. Second, Christ is present in the person of the priest. It’s not a question of whether the ordained minister is an exciting preacher or a particularly holy person. Christ’s presence doesn’t depend on the priest’s personal virtue.

Deacon Greg Kandra makes it very clear: "Look at the host, and you look at Christ." Fr. James Gilhooley points to the Bible as proof of this Real presence. There one finds a verbatim dialogue of what is called the longest running play in history. The play's title is Promise of the Eucharist. The playwright is John. The manuscript is the sixth chapter of his Gospel.

Our Burning Questions challenges you to offer a response from your deepest core: Do you REALLY believe in the Real presence of Jesus in Holy Communion? Reflect upon this and give an honest - albeit anonymous - answer.

The Sacramental Banquet

You might think it a bit strange that on this Feast of Corpus Christi the Church gives us not an account of the Last Supper for our Gospel text but focuses instead on the Feeding of the Five Thousand. But if you examine the text closely you will see that this miracle has strong Eucharistic overtones. The language used is the same as that used at the Last Supper: ‘took, blessed, broke, gave.’ These are words we are very familiar with and summarise the four movements within the Mass.

We are now the hungry multitude and we are reminded that Jesus offers us a nourishment that fully satisfies our needs. The point is there is a continuity between a family supper and the Eucharist. Fr. Andrew M. Greeley says both tell us something about each other. The Eucharist invades our home and sanctifies our regular meals. And our regular meals illumine the Eucharist as a family and community feast.

This is the significance of the feast today. In the sacramental banquet of Christ’s body and blood, Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S. points out, we are joined to Him and to one anotherin a bond of love that makes selfishness, greed, and complacency in the world’s afflictions unthinkable. And so explains, Fr. Charles Irvin, we should never simply “get” or “receive” Holy Communion. We "enter" into Holy Communion; we enter into the totality of Christ’s incarnate life among us. In this sense, “receiving Holy Communion” is a dynamic reality: we receive Christ and in so doing, Christ receives us, and by the power of the Holy Spirit presents us to the Father.

Feeding and Healing

The Church is stressing two important elements that are brought out in the feeding of the five thousand; namely feeding and healing. Fr. Alex McAllister SDS explains the two-fold feeding that takes place in the Eucharist. First the obvious feeding of our bodies with bread and wine, but secondly there is the sustenance of our souls that only this food from heaven can provide.

Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB also points out the two important lessons Luke teaches in Sunday's Gospel. First Jesus welcomes this vast crowd of common folk, even though "the Twelve" wanted to send them away. And second, Jesus teaches that the disciples are to share whatever they have. In the sharing there will be more than enough. Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. says the lesson is very clear. Jesus tells us to take what little we have and to do what we can with it. God will take care of the rest and with an abundance left over!

Thus in this Sunday's Gospel, we meet Christ the physician. But as Father Cusick points out, there are questions we must answer. Do we seek him as physician of our bodies only? Or has he become for us a mere earthly Messiah?

The True Center of Our Celebration

Even today, some Christian denominations never celebrate the Eucharist, some others only once a month or once a week. But in the Catholic Church we see the Eucharist in all its aspects and understand that it is the gate to heaven and therefore the central act of our worship. It is indeed therefore something for all days and for every day.

So think of the many times in the past when you've asked yourself, "Why Do I Have To Go To Mass?" Fr. Phil Bloom says the answer is simple - To worship and to receive Jesus - as Lord and Savior. Also as you attend Mass at different places, know that none of them will be exactly the same. But the heart of every Mass will be the same: Jesus Christ will be present at the Last Supper, on the Cross, and within each person who receives His Body and Blood. All the liturgical enhancements to our celebrations are wonderful, but none of them surpass the wonder of Jesus Christ, present in every Eucharist.

Now here's a most important question: Who May Receive Communion? While we cannot judge another person's soul, still we recognize that those involved in certain actions should not come forward for Communion. And in "Miracles Still Happen," Lenora Grimaud shares her account of an actual Eucharistic miracle she witnessed during a Mass she happened to be attending.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Eucharist

On the Thursday (or the Sunday) following Holy Trinity Sunday, many Catholics also celebrate the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. With this devotion, we recall that Christ's heart of flaming love finds its truest and most profound expression in the Blessed Sacrament of His love, the Eucharist, God's giving of Himself, whose feast, Corpus Christi, we celebrate this Sunday.

How appropriate this is, for devotion to the Eucharist and to the Sacred Heart are in fact one thing, inseparable — devotion to the mystery of Christ's human and divine love. Thus St. Peter Julian Eymard instructs us, "Let us learn to honor the Sacred Heart in the Eucharist. Let us never separate them."

Living a Catholic Life Today

"Spirituality Without Spirits" is a great reflection by David Mills. He calls it a great and self-serving mess, this claim to be “spiritual but not religious.” And he cites Lady Gaga, the pornographic songstress, as a great example when she tells a reporter that she has a new spirituality just before going out for a night at a Berlin sex club.

And we bring our attention to the Our Father. It is the best known of all prayers but it also bespeaks a challenge. For when something is so well known we can say it mindlessly and miss its message. Msgr. Charles Pope says Our Father should give us more than words to say. It should also gives us a structure for our prayer life, a basic plan for our spiritual life.

Priests, St. John Vianney and the Internet

Speaking of priests in our New Evangelization, a new study about the use of digital technology by priests worldwide shows that the Internet has become a frequently utilized tool in homily preparation, evangelization and pastoral support. Some 42% of priests expressed the belief that the use of digital technology has improved their performance in their mission. And 53% of priests affirmed that the Internet is useful in presenting and spreading the Christian message.

And on another technology front, author Mary Eberstadt talks about "Apologetics for the Facebook Generation." She points out the many challenges the cyberworld discussions poses and highlights that Christianity has a lot more to offer the world than atheists give it credit for.

Finally, we close with a couple of articles, one for married couples and another for busy bodies. "The Seven Habits of a Happy Marriage" looks to the matrimonial lessons to be learned from the water jars in the Gospel story of the Wedding at Cana. And if you're too busy and your exercise program amounts to nothing, "Getting Moving, How to make time for exercise" is for you.

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 REALLY believe in the Real Presence?
FEATURED BLOG: Spirituality without Spirits
PASTORAL HISPANA: Cuerpo y Sangre de Cristo, fiesta de adoracion
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