- Tuesday, 27 July 2010 11:30
AND you wonder why fewer and fewer people take the Anglican Church (or the Episcopal Church if you are American) with a degree of seriousness. Recently a Church of Canada priestess gave communion to a German Shepherd as a “simple church act of reaching out.” What a gesture of welcome! This act is not only contravening “church policy” as much as it is an acknowledgement that the real Presence of Christ is not a Reality for these people. Policy is has nothing to do with it, does it? But if the Anglicans of the Church of Canada simply believe Communion is a symbol or that it represents something else…. Sounds like Joseph Campbell, Derida and many Protestant theologians (e.g. Borg, Tillich and Bultmann) are patron saints of mere symbol and not of Jesus Christ, body and blood, soul and divinity.
What comes to mind is Flannery O’Connor’s famous insight when she said to hell with a symbol. O’Connor said:
“I was once, five or six years ago, taken by some friends to have dinner with Mary McCarthy and her husband, Mr. Broadwater…. She departed the Church at the age of 15 and is a Big Intellectual…. Toward morning the conversation turned on the Eucharist, which I being the Catholic, was obviously supposed to defend. Mrs. Broadwater said when she was a child and received the host, she thought of it as the Holy Ghost, He being the most portable person of the Trinity; now she thought of it as a symbol and implied that it was a pretty good one. I then said, in a very shaky voice, “Well if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.” That was all the defense I was capable of but I realize now that this is all I will ever be able to say about it, outside of story, except that it is the center of existence for me; all the rest of life is expendable.”
- Monday, 12 July 2010 08:59
Each year the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has a theme and the theme for the 2011 observance of the Week of Prayer is One in the Apostles’ Teaching, Fellowship, Breaking of Bread and Prayer.
- Thursday, 10 June 2010 09:45
Just as Holy Thursday and then Corpus Christi focuses our attention on the beauty of Christ’s fulfillment of His promise to remain with us –in the Holy Eucharist– so every Thursday ought to be a day of special prayer (time spent in adoration, Mass, confession of sins, reflection using the works of “eucharistic saints”). And this is the point of this blog: sharing in Communio lived with Christ in the Church among all people. But to the point here, I think any time spent with the Blessed Sacrament “touches eternity, highlighting the relationship between the Eucharistic banquet (the Mass) and the eschatological banquet in the Father’s Kingdom (heaven)” (GIRM 281).
In many places where adoration and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was been done “traditionally” on Fridays, the devotion has now been moved to Thursdays to be in greater connection with the Holy Thursday event of the Paschal Mystery of the Lord.
My advice for today: try to spend some time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, attend Mass, go to confession, pray for the Church.
Consider what Saint Thomas Aquinas has to say about the Body and Blood of Christ from one of his sermons:
Since it was the will of God’s only-begotten Son that men should share in his divinity, he assumed our nature in order that by becoming man he might make men gods. Moreover, when he took our flesh he dedicated the whole of its substance to our salvation. He offered his body to God the Father on the altar of the cross as a sacrifice for our reconciliation. He shed his blood for our ransom and purification, so that we might be redeemed from our wretched state of bondage and cleansed from all sin. But to ensure that the memory of so great a gift would abide with us forever, he left his body as food and blood as drink for the faithful to consume in the form of bread and wine.
O precious and wonderful banquet, that brings us salvation and contains all sweetness! Could anything be of more intrinsic value?
- Sunday, 06 June 2010 13:07
O sacred Banquet in which Christ is received, the memory of His Passion is recalled, the mind is filled with grace, and pledge of future glory is given to us.
At churches around the world today we’ll notice processions with the Blessed Sacrament in honor of the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (also called Corpus Christi). New Haven, Connecticut is no different: Saint Mary’s Church
served by the Dominican Friars celebrated the Mass and formed a procession around the block though a small portion of the Yale University neighborhood. The Very Reverend Father Joseph Allen, OP, prior and pastor of Saint Mary’s presided at Mass and led the procession. Allen reminded us of Christ’s gift of Presence to the Church and it is an extension of Christ’s sacred humanity and divinity now
, and the fruit of that presence is unity of faith and service to neighbor. Also assisting Father Allen in carrying the Blessed Sacrament is the recently ordained Dominican student brother, Brother Austin, assigned for the summer to Saint Mary’s Priory and Church.
We took Christ to the streets where He is little known and if he is known there, He is often neglected. “Our faith in the God who took flesh in order to become our companion along the way needs to be everywhere proclaimed, especially in our streets and homes, as an expression of our grateful love and as an inexhaustible source of blessings” (John Paul II, Mane nobiscum Dominie
The Corpus Christi festival clearly echoes the Holy Thursday commemoration of the institution of the Eucharist. Benedict XVI’s words come to mind:
We must never forget that the Church is built around Christ and that, as St Augustine, St Thomas Aquinas and St Albert the Great have all said, following St Paul (cf. 1 Cor 10:17), the Eucharist is the Sacrament of the Church’s unity, because we all form one single body of which the Lord is the head. We must go back again and again to the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, where we were given a pledge of the mystery of our redemption on the Cross. The Last Supper is the locus of the nascent Church, the womb containing the Church of every age. In the Eucharist, Christ’s sacrifice is constantly renewed, Pentecost is constantly renewed. (Benedict XVI, homily closing the 49th Eucharistic Conference, Quebec, June 22, 2008)
You may recall that since the 14th century a custom formed in carrying the Blessed Sacrament around town following Mass. Popes encouraged this devotional practice –even giving indulgences to those who walked with the Blessed Sacrament– and by the 16th century, the Council of Trent approved a public demonstration of the faith in the Eucharistic Presence. Through the various periods of Church history extraordinary events and processions developed with every segment of civil society taking part. In some countries the faithful wrote “Plays of the Sacrament” or performed “Eucharistic dances” as they did in Seville (not the type done by Sister Mary Leotard) to express their faith in the enduring Presence of the Lord.
Today’s Eucharistic procession stopped at stations, a typical Roman liturgical custom, for a moment of prayer with the Blessed Sacrament which included singing “Tantum ergo,” the a prayer, benediction and the recitation of the Divine Praises. For us two points were selected outside the church and one at the main altar calling to mind the practice of Pope Martin V.
Holy Mother Church teaches us that her observance of Corpus Christi is a response that’s both doctrinal and pertaining to Divine Worship in the face of wrong teaching on the place of the Eucharist in ecclesial life. In many places, either in CCD, preaching at Mass or in conversation among friends, the mystery of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is misrepresented or ignored. Looking at many examples of contemporary church architecture I’ve noticed the displacement of the Eucharist from being central to the margins of the Church (cathedrals and monastic churches excepted). This is especially crazy when pastors renovate their traditional churches and move the tabernacle to a side chapel based on a mis-reading of the church documents and a faulty eucharistic theology. If you are in the NYC area stop by at the Jesuit Church of St Francis Xavier on West 16th Street and you’ll see what I mean. There the Jesuits moved the tabernacle to a side altar and replaced the traditional place for the tabernacle with components of a baptistry (a review of the recent renovation later). The concern for the Eucharist as central to one’s life is obviously nothing new to us today –or in the 2000 year history of the Church– as it was a concern of Pope Urban in 1264 when he gave the Roman Church this feast.
Let me conclude by giving two principles that articulate Catholic belief in the Eucharist and the reason why we take the Blessed Sacrament on the road:
1. the supreme reference point for Eucharistic devotion is the Lord’s Passover; the Pasch as understood by the Fathers, is the feast of Easter, while the Eucharist is before all else the celebration of the Paschal Mystery … the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ;
2. all forms of Eucharistic devotion must have an intrinsic reference to the Eucharistic Sacrifice, or dispose the faithful for its celebration, or prolong the worship which is essential to that Sacrifice (Directory of Popular Piety).
What we did today and what others around the world did, is to make a public profession of faith in the promise of Christ to be with us till the end of time in the enduring Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
- Sunday, 06 June 2010 07:02
Of the glorious Body telling,
O my tongue, its mystery sing,
and the Blood, all price excelling,
which the Gentiles’ Lord and King,
in a noble womb once dwelling,
shed for this world’s ransoming.
Given for us, for us descending
of a Virgin to proceed,
man with man in converse blending,
scattered He the gospel seed,
till His sojourn drew to ending,
which He closed in wondrous deed.
At the last great Supper lying,
circled by His brethren’s band,
meekly with the Law complying,
first He finished its command,
then, immortal Food supplying,
gave Himself with His own hand.
Word-made-flesh, by word He maketh
very bread, His Flesh to be;
man in wine Christ’s Blood partaketh,
and if senses fail to see,
faith alone the true heart waketh
to behold the mystery.
Therefore we, before Him bending,
this great Sacrament revere;
types and shadows have their ending,
for the newer Rite is here;
faith, our outward sense befriending,
makes the inward vision clear.
Glory let us give and blessing
to the Father and the Son;
honor, might, and praise addressing,
while eternal ages run,
ever too His love confession,
who from Both with Both is One.
“Pange lingua gloriosi”
Saint Thomas Aquinas
trans. John Mason Neale, Edward Caswall, et al.
The English Hymnal, 1906