May 26, 2016
Renewing Our Faith, Devotion in an Awesome Gift
Usually about once a year growing up, Dad and Mom would convene an informal “family meeting,” usually because, as they would note, “things are getting sloppy.” I hardly lived in a strict, formal, demanding home, but, well, there were certainly some clear expectations. And, when we began to ignore them, Mom and Dad would remind us of them. For example, at this occasional family summit, we kids would hear about making our beds, putting our toys away, hanging up our clothes, keeping our rooms tidy, washing up before meals, and not coming to the table like slobs. We’d hang our heads, but had to admit that, sure enough, we were getting a bit sloppy.
The wonderful feast we celebrate this Sunday, Corpus Christi, the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, gives us a chance not only to profess our faith in the awe, beauty, and majesty of the Holy Eucharist, but to ask ourselves if we are getting a bit sloppy in our approach to this sacred mystery.
Here are the facts: Jesus Christ is really and truly present in the Holy Eucharist. Every time we come to Mass, we renew His Last Supper with His apostles—a sacred meal—and His offering of Himself for us on the cross—a Holy Sacrifice. When we receive Him in Holy Communion, we are as close to Him as we can get this side of heaven. And when we gaze upon Him in the monstrance or in the tabernacle, we believe He’s really there.
To show our love and reverence for this mystery of our faith, we Catholics foster traditional practices of piety, which also keep us from taking the Holy Eucharist for granted, or losing the sense of awe and reverence that this Blessed Sacrament deserves.
In other words, we have certain safeguards against getting sloppy about the Holy Eucharist! The upcoming feast is a good time to recall and renew them!
-Church discipline asks that we fast from all food and drink, except water, an hour before Mass;
-Since we are receiving Communion, if we are aware of any serious sin that would rupture Communion with Jesus and His Church, we would make a good confession prior to receiving the Eucharist;
-before entering the pew for Mass, we would genuflect to the Real Presence of Christ in the tabernacle;
-we would dress appropriately for Mass, at least in clean, modest clothes, if not our “Sunday best”;
-conscious of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, a tone of silent reverence would dominate in Church;
-we would always want to be on time for Mass, and not leave early;
-just prior to receiving Holy Communion, we would prepare especially by reciting the “Lamb of God” and “Lord, I am not worthy...” with sincerity;
-our “Amen” when the minister says, “The Body of Christ,” comes from the heart;
-we would take a time of quiet thanksgiving right after receiving our Lord;
-our participation at Mass should be active, not passive: we recite the prayers and try our best to sing; we listen attentively to God’s Word; we volunteer to serve Mass, lector, bring up the gifts, sing in the choir, usher, welcome people, etc., as we are able;
-most of all, we are faithful to Sunday Mass! The studies show that only 25% of our Catholic people are consistent in Sunday Mass...we’ve got work to do!
Two weeks ago, I was home in St. Louis for the first Holy Communion of my nephew Patrick. As usual, that ceremony was moving and emotional. Afterwards, one of the dads of another child spoke to me.
“It was so meaningful getting ready for my son’s first Communion. My wife and I helped him prepare for months. At the Mass, he looked so innocent and good. He really believed he was receiving our Lord! I need that simple and childlike faith! I have to get back to Church and start receiving Holy Communion again with the same joy and belief he has.”
Don’t we all!
What a great time to “get our act together” and renew our faith and devotion in the awesome gift of the Most Holy Eucharist!
No more sloppiness, dear family!
A blessed feast of Corpus Christi!