Solemnity of Corpus Christi
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
As we begin the month of June, the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, let us ask of our good Lord to share His Divine Mercy with us! This Sunday we the Solemnity of Corpus Christi or the Most Holy Body of Christ in the Eucharist! I share with you a meditation on this great mystery of our Faith. I encourage you to reflect over this message a few times this week:
“Like the Repentant Thief - The tabernacles we find along our way. In Cruce latebat sola Deitas… God only on the Cross lay hid from view, but here lies hid at once the manhood too: And I, in both professing my belief, make the same prayer as the repentant thief. As Jesus hung dying on the Cross, the good thief was able to see in Him the Messiah, the Son of God. By an extraordinary grace from God, that man’s faith enabled him to overcome the difficulties presented to him by what he could only see and hear - appearances that spoke only of a Man who had been condemned to death. Christ’s Divinity was hidden from the eyes of all onlookers, but that man was at least able to look upon the Savior’s most Holy Humanity. He was able to contemplate Christ’s loving gaze, the forgiveness that He poured out with all His Heart upon those who were jeering at Him, and His moving silence in response to all insults and offences hurled upon Him. Even on the Cross, in the midst of so much suffering, Jesus pours out His Love. We look at the sacred Host and our eyes can see nothing of Him: they do not see the loving gaze of Jesus, or His compassion… But with the strength of Faith we proclaim Him as our God and our Lord. Often, to express in some way the certainty of our soul and of our love, we have said to Him: I firmly believe, Lord that you are here, that you see me, that you hear me… Your gaze is just as loving as the gaze the good thief was able to contemplate, and Your compassion is still infinite. I know that You are always attentive to the very least of my petitions, sorrows and joys.
Although in different ways, Jesus is equally present in Heaven and in the consecrated Host. There are not two Christs, but a single Christ. We possess in the Host the Christ who is present in all the mysteries of the Redemption - the Christ known by Mary Magdalen and the Samaritan woman; the Christ of Mount Tabor and of Gethsemane; the Christ who rose from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father… This wonderful presence of Christ among us should revolutionize our lives… He is here with us - in each city and in each town. (M. M. Philipon, The Sacraments in Christian Life) Even every day as we walk along the streets we may be walking just a few yards away from where He is. Do we wonder how many acts of Faith may have been made at that particular hour of the morning or of the afternoon in front of that particular tabernacle, either from outside the church or by people going in for a few moments to the place where He is? Do we consider how many acts of love may have been made? How sad it would be if we were to go straight past without acknowledging his presence or greeting him! Jesus is not indifferent to our Faith and to our love. Don’t be so blind or so thoughtless as not to enter in thought within each Tabernacle when you glimpse the walls or the spires of the houses of God that you pass. He is waiting for you. (J. Escriva, The Way, 269) What a lot of good this advice filled with wisdom and piety can do to us! Jesus was moved when He heard that voice acknowledging Him as God in the midst of so many insults. It was the voice of a thief who, even though God was so very hidden, was able to recognise Him and express His belief in Him out loud, at the same time making Him known to his companion. His encounter with Jesus led him to do apostolate.
Love disperses blindness, bewilderment and lukewarmness. This living Love - expressed perhaps with a heartfelt ejaculatory prayer - is something we should try to feel whenever we are about to receive Jesus in Holy Communion and when we pass close to a Tabernacle on our way to work. At such times our souls will be filled with joy. As you make your way through the familiar streets of the city, have you never had the joy of discovering… another Tabernacle? (idem, 270) It is the joy experienced by everyone who has ever looked forward to a particular encounter with someone. If our hearts beat
faster when we see a person we love in the distance, are we going to remain unmoved as we pass close to a Tabernacle?
We should imitate the Good Thief. I ask the same as the repentant thief Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. (Luke 23:42) His Faith was so great that with a single ejaculatory prayer the Good Thief merited the purification of his whole life. He called Jesus by His Name, just as we too have done so often. And He always gives more than He is asked for. That man asked Our Lord to remember him when He came into His Kingdom, and Our Lord answered him:
‘Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise’. True life consists in being with Christ, for where Christ is, there is His Kingdom. (St. Ambrose, Treatise on St. Luke’s Gospel, in loc.) The Master’s longing to have us with Him in His glory is so great that He gives us His Body as a foretaste of Eternal Life.
We have to imitate this man who acknowledged his faults (cf. Luke 23:41) and thus merited the forgiveness of his sins and his complete purification. Many times have I repeated that verse of the Eucharistic hymn: ‘Peto quod petivit latro poenitens’, and it always fills me with emotion: to ask Jesus to remember me as the penitent thief did! He recognized that he himself deserved the awful punishment of this barbaric execution… And with a word he stole Christ’s heart and ‘opened up for himself’ the gates of Heaven. (J. Escriva, The Way of the Cross, XII, 4) When we are in front of Jesus Himself, if only we could sincerely hate every deliberate venial sin and cleanse our soul of the dross left by so very many ugly things that obscure the image of Jesus within us - selfishness, laziness, disordered attachment to things! Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is a fountain open to everyone. He is the fountain at which, whenever we wish, we can wash away from our soul every stain of
the sins we commit each day. (St. Alphonsus Liguori, Visits to the Blessed Sacrament, 20)
If we receive it with the requisite dispositions, frequent Communion will lead us to try also to go frequently and contritely to Confession. In turn, this greater purity of heart will create in us an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. (cf. John Paul II, Address to ‘Adoracion Nocturna’, Madrid, 31 October 1982) When it is received with Faith and love the Eucharistic Sacrament itself purifies the soul of its faults, weakens our inclination towards evil, divinizes the soul and prepares it to receive the high ideals that the Holy Spirit inspires in the soul of a Christian. Let us ask our Lord for a real desire to purify ourselves in this life so that we can shorten our Purgatory and be admitted into the company of Jesus and Mary as soon as possible: If only, My Jesus, it were true that I had never offended you! But now that the damage has been done, I beg you
to forget the displeasure I have caused you and the bitter death that you underwent for me. Lead me into your kingdom after my death, and as long as my life shall last make Your Love reign always in my soul. (St. Alphonsus Liguori, Meditations on the Passion, Meditation XII for Wed. of Holy Week, 1) Help me, Lord, to hate any deliberate venial sin; give me a great love for frequent Confession.
The purification of our faults. The holy Cure d’Ars in one of his sermons tells the pious legend of Saint Alex, and draws from it some consequences that concern the Blessed Eucharist. It is said of this saint that one day, having heard a particular call from God, he left his house and went to live far away from home as a humble beggar. Many years later he returned to the city of his birth, thin and disfigured by his many penances. Without making himself known, he was given shelter in the palace that belonged to his own parents. He lived under the stairs for sixteen years. When he died and his body was being prepared for burial, his mother recognised her son, and, filled with sorrow, exclaimed: ‘Oh my son, how late have I recognised you!’ The saintly parish-priest of d’Ars commented that the soul when it leaves this life will at last see the one whom he possessed each day in the Holy Eucharist, the one to whom he spoke, and to whom he poured out his sorrows
when he could not bear them any longer. At the sight of Jesus in glory, the soul that has but little love, that has but scant Faith, will be forced to exclaim:‘Jesus, what a pity I have only come to know You so late, having had You all the time so close to me!’
Whenever we are in front of the Tabernacle or look at the Sacred Host on the altar we must see Christ present there. We must see the very same Christ as was in Bethlehem and Capharnaum. We must see Christ who rose from the dead on the third day, and is now sitting in glory at the right hand of God the Father. Tantum ergo Sacramentum, Veneremur cernui…
We can listen to the words of the liturgy: Down in adoration falling, Lo! The Sacred Host we hail, Lo! o’er ancient forms departing, Newer rites of grace prevail, Faith for all defects supplying, Where the feeble senses fail. (Hymn, Tantum Ergo) This is the expression of a Faith that is firm and full of Love. Jesus revealed to us that the clean of heart will see God. (cf. Matt. 5:8) This vision of God begins down here on earth, and reaches its fullness and perfection in Heaven. If our heart is filled with dirt, whatever vision we have becomes obscured. The figure of Christ becomes blurred and our capacity for loving is impoverished. That Christ you see is not Jesus. It is only the pitiful image that your blurred eyes are able to form… Purify yourself. Clarify your sight with humility and penance. Then… the pure light of Love will not be denied you.
And you will have perfect vision. The image you see will be really His: ‘His’. (J. Escriva, The Way, 212) We will recognise Him, just as the good thief did, no matter what the circumstances. What joy to have Christ so close to us! What joy to see Him, to love Him and to serve Him! He listens to us when in the intimacy of our prayer we say to Him: ‘Lord, remember me, from Heaven and from that nearest Tabernacle where you are also really present’. So that we can fill the emptiness left by our sins whilst we are still in this life, He moves us to greater penance and to greater love for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He moves us to accept the sorrows and shortcomings of life in a spirit of reparation. He helps us to look for those little mortifications that enable us to overcome our own
selfishness and to help others - mortifications that enable us to carry out our daily tasks with greater perfection. If we are faithful to these graces, on the last day of our life here on earth, which is perhaps not so very far off, we will hear Jesus saying to us ‘Today you shall be with me in Paradise’. Then we will see Him and will love Him with a joy that has no end. As we come to the end of our prayer, we say to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament: Ave verum Corpus natum ex Maria
Virgine … Hail true Body, born of the Virgin Mary… Let us taste of you at the moment of our death.
We ask our Guardian Angel to remind us of Christ’s closeness to us, so that we may never pass Him by without stopping.
If we have recourse to her, to Mary who is our Mother, she will increase our Faith and will teach us to treat her Son with greater delicacy and with far more love.” (From: In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez)
Through the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, St. Joseph, and St. Columbkill, may God grant us the grace of greater
love for Jesus, truly present in the Holy Eucharist! In Christ through Mary, Fr. Kasel