This Sunday, June 2nd, we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ. All of the mass readings point to this awesome mystery we called the Eucharist. It is such an extreme grace and privilege to be able to receive Jesus’ body into our own when we attend mass. It has been a huge blessing for me to work at a place where there is an adoration chapel on campus. Just to be able to sit in the presence of Jesus gives me an indescribable peace that I can find nowhere else – a little foretaste of heaven!
There were times in history when the Eucharist was not readily available. People really treasured it (Him) then and were even willing to risk their lives to give/receive the Blessed Sacrament. I think of young Tarcisius (patron saint of first communicants) who volunteered to risk his life to bring Jesus to Christians held in prison. If the priests or bishops were to openly bring the Eucharist to the prisoners, they surely would have been killed. Ultimately, Tarcisius was martyred holding the Eucharist (in a cloth beneath his shirt) tightly to his chest.
I also think of Oscar Romero who served as Archbishop in El Salvador in the late 1970’s. He spoke out on behalf of the poor and against human rights violations. Doing so made many enemies for him in the government. The movie clip that I linked to his name above shows him beautifully defending and caring for Jesus in the Eucharist when militants came in and shot up the tabernacle. Romero was killed in 1980 during the celebration of the mass. He had such courage and love for the Lord. I pray that I would have that kind of bravery to defend the Lord in a similar situation.
Some people, even those within our own church, do not believe that the Eucharist is really Jesus’ body. This saddens me. I’ve read about a few saints who have lived for long periods of time on the Eucharist alone. St. Catherine of Sienna and Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich were two of them. Of course, there are several Eucharistic miracles of note. For me though, all of this powerful evidence is unnecessary.
Jesus tells us Himself, “This is my body…If you do not eat of the flesh of the Son of Man, you do not have life within you.” He is not speaking figuratively here, as in a parable. He couldn’t be clearer. All I know is that the Blessed Sacrament means so much to me in my life. In this mysterious way, it (He) transforms the recipient. I am so thankful that Jesus created this very special way to remain with us throughout the centuries since his Ascension into heaven. (This and the gift of the Holy Spirit!)
Tomorrow, my family is celebrating this incredible gift by going to our favorite church, St. Patrick’s on Camp Street in New Orleans. St. Patrick’s is a beautiful, historic church that still has the altar rail and kneelers in place. It feels so right and so appropriate to receive one’s King while kneeling. We will attend the Latin Mass at 9:15. It will be followed by a Corpus Christi procession. We have never taken part in this type of procession and hope to participate for the first time.
May the Body and Blood of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, bring us to everlasting life. Amen.