(Our Lady of the Assumption Church, Park Ridge: 8am; Saint Catherine’s Church, Jimboomba: 5.30pm)
2 June 2013
(Readings: Gen 14:18-20; Ps 109; 1 Cor 11:23-26; Lk 9:11-17)
As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ there are so many different aspects of the Eucharist that we could meditate on. We recall that in the Constitution on the Liturgy, the fathers of Vatican II taught: “the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows. For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord’s supper” (SC, 10). Everything we do as a Church is meant to draw people into faith, into communion with the Lord, so that ultimately they will praise him in the midst of the sons and daughters of God, and share in the Lord’s Supper. The same council fathers, in the Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, described the eucharist as the source and summit (or the fount and apex) of the whole Christian life (LG, 11). Today is a good reminder to us of the esteem in which we should hold the celebration of Sunday Mass, and of our obligation to participate in Mass every Sunday.
Sunday Mass is the ongoing way that God shapes us as his sons and daughters. We are kept in lively communion with our brothers and sisters in the faith; we are nourished by the Holy Word of God in the scriptures; we are assisted by the ministry of the Church’s pastors, and through them united with the church dispersed through the whole world – all in communion with the successor of St Peter. The high point of our participation in Sunday Mass is our reception of holy communion – the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We are nourished by his Body so that we can be his body in the world. He gives us sacramental grace to assist us in all that we do, and to help us to live the virtues.
It has always been the Catholic tradition that Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is carried to those who cannot be present at Mass due to illness and infirmity. Some of you share in that wonderful ministry of taking Holy Communion to the sick and the housebound, and you would know how grateful they are to be able to receive Our Lord, and to know that they are united with us in His Body and Blood.
Because of the desire of the Church always to be able to take Our Lord in Holy Communion to the sick, and even to the dying so that they may receive Him as food for their final journey to eternity, the Blessed Sacrament is kept in the tabernacles of all our churches. What a consolation of the faith this is – that the sacramental presence of Jesus is always present with us in our churches, so that we can be near to him as he is to us. It’s one of the things that makes our churches such special places; places that we can always come to to pray, to bring our lives to Jesus, to cast before him our needs and petitions.
Our feast day today is an opportunity for us to remember the love that we should show to Our Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament. The first thing we do upon entering the Church should be to greet Our Lord; to pause for at least a moment in prayer before Him present in the tabernacle. It is good to remember that whenever we pass before the tabernacle we are to reverence Jesus with a genuflection: bending the knee before him. Those who can’t physically perform that gesture may of course make a deep bow from the waist.
The Archbishop wrote to the clergy recently about Liturgical matters, and one of the things he asked us to address is the “interplay between sound and silence” in the liturgy, and he noted that “our liturgy tends to have become wordy and noisy, with silence often minimal or absent. [He said] this is particularly so before Mass when people spontaneously (and quite loudly) speak in the Church.” The Archbishop invited the clergy to consider ways of inviting the people to a time of silence before the Entrance Song begins. So we should be conscious that people have come to church to pray, and so we should keep a spirit of reverence in the church, and not distract people from prayer by unnecessary activity or talking (1).
Those who do carry the Blessed Sacrament to the sick and housebound should also consider what a special thing they are doing, and not show any disrespect to Our Lord while carrying him. The Blessed Sacrament should be taken straight to the sick or housebound person. If it is necessary to keep the sacrament for a brief time at home before visiting the sick, then it should be put in a dignified spot – perhaps on a prayer table or something similar – and you should always be conscious that Jesus is present.
To conclude … Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta is well-known for her work amongst the poor. The images of her tending to the sick, the destitute, and the dying, are very familiar. What is not as often reported is that Mother Teresa – and indeed all her sisters – every day spent many hours in adoration before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. He was her strength for all she did, and she opened herself to him in the Eucharist – both in the celebration of the Mass, and in its extension through Eucharistic adoration (2).
When we stay close to Jesus in the ways he has provided for us to remain with him, then miracles will happen like the one that he worked through the hands of the disciples when they fed the five thousand from just a few loaves and fishes, and like what Jesus was able to accomplish through the work of a poor Albanian nun, Blessed Mother Teresa.
Today we give thanks to God for the gift of the Eucharist. May we always show our thanks and love for this awesome mystery by our reverence towards Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament; by spending time in prayer before Him; by receiving Him worthily and to quickly have recourse to the Sacrament of Confession when we sin seriously so as not to receive Our Lord unworthily or sacrilegiously; and above all, having received such great a gift, that we take his love and blessings to the world by living as His Body, and being the voice through which He speaks His love, and the hands by which He extends His love to those for whom He lived and died.
(1) Archbishop Mark Coleridge’s recent letter to clergy about the Sacred Liturgy can be found here: Abp Coleridge to clergy RE liturgy 2013 05
(2) See also: “When did Mother Teresa begin daily Eucharistic adoration with her Sisters?” http://www.eucharisticfamilyrosary.com/blog/mother_teresa_daily_eucharistic_adoration/