Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Supersubstaintial Bread, Divinizing Blood--Corpus Christi

Father John J. Lombardi

Words that crack: Those are human words used by Fr David Power, one of my seminary professors at Catholic University, to describe the Divine Desire of Jesus in the Mass-The Lord's Words change reality. "The Eucharist," said St Thomas Aquinas, "is the Sacrament of Love: It signifies Love, it produces Love."

Vatican Council II said the Mass changes things: "For it is the especially (thru) the Divine Sacrifice of the Eucharist, 'the work of our redemption is accomplished'. The Church is essentially both human and divine, visible, but endowed with invisible realities,…dedicated to contemplation…The liturgy builds up those who are in the church" (Sacrosanctum Concilium: #2).

Jesus' Words at Mass: "Do this in memory of Me" change reality; His words do not merely and passively report reality as it presents itself. No, both the intention and verbal-undulating-vibrations of the Lord Himself---spoken-- change reality .So, too, because He gives us apostles and priests to be His "instruments and channels" (just as other important people have "spokespersons" and "ambassadors" and "representatives" ), Jesus ex-tends, thru time and space, His Divine Desire-to change reality and sanctify souls. Now, do you seek that change and Divine Desire? St Margaret Mary Alaqoue said: "I have such a desire for Holy Communion that if I had to walk barefoot along a path of fire to obtain it, I would do it with unspeakable joy."

Just What is the Holy Eucharist? We all have profound experiences during prayer (we just don't' always realize or articulate them), and sometimes, silly-profound ones come! One came to this chaplain recently when thinking about Mass and Jesus. It manifested to him: MSG. Huh?! No, not the food preservative, but-Jesus' Mystical Self Giving. Yes, that is what the Mass and Holy Eucharist are-Mystical, because Jesus lived and died 2,000 years ago and yet we still receive Him in the Mass today; and he Gives-surrenders and bestows, not just a nice a Divine Thought, but His very Self. So, when going to Mass or Communion or by a Church-think: MSG-Jesus' Mystical Self Giving. Nothing less.. And nothing more we could want.

Divine Change: Just as your human words can either be like bullets --mean-spirited-and upset them-shoot up their adrenalin, or flowers-melt them, as we say, similarly and differently, Jesus Christ's Divine Words change the bread and wine into His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Mass They change reality. This is called transubstantiation-one substance changes into another. We taught this word transubstantiation to our parish First Communicant, and: 1)they knew how to spell the word (!); 2)they knew what it meant; 3)they used the word to help them desire the Divine Eucharist. Innocently, joyfully and eagerly they sought Him--the God-Man in Holy Communion. So: Know and realize what transubstantiation means and desire Him in your life like those children: Become a child again! "The Eucharist is the supreme proof of the love of Jesus, After this there is nothing more but Heaven itself." -St Peter Julian Eymard

"For the Bread of God is That Which comes down from Heaven and gives life to the world" (Jn. 6: 33). This Sunday is Corpus Christi Sunday. Corpus Christi = Body of Christ--He Whom we receive in Holy Communion. This should be one of the most Beautiful and Important Feasts of the Year. Actually, it's a Solemnity (the highest ranking in terms of liturgical celebrations-like Christmas and Easter). Like St Thomas, let us say nothing less to Him: "My Lord and My God" (Jn.20:28). So: processions should be held for our Eucharistic Lord and Adoration throughout and week: He has not left us orphan, but still dwells among us in the Holy Eucharist. Following are reflections for Corpus Christi…

Essence of Mass: Whether called "The Eucharist" or "Mass" or "Celebration of the Divine Mysteries" each re-presents Jesus Christ's Sacrificial and Atoning Death for us, to save us from sin, and also to sueprnaturalize us. The Mass is a Sacrificial Meal-like Passover-- which includes God giving us His Blood (a "vertical dimension"), but also fellowship and community (a" horizontal dimension"-what humans do and need). Like the Passover Meal (Ex.12:1ff)-wherein the Jews were saved from the "Angel of death" by posting blood over their doorposts, the Last Supper aspect in the Mass-"Do this in memory of Me"-gives us a "Memorial-form" to liturgically embrace Him -a readily accessible format to embrace His Mercy, And since everyone has meals together, the Divine Lord makes Himself readily accessible and apparent in this way. And, like Jesus' Death on the Calvary-Cross, the Mass re-presents His Body and Blood to save us from sin, Hell and death. We should never neglect or reject these aspects of the Mass as some do today.

There are many externals and secondary items in the Mass which change, are negotiable and which point to the primary essence of the Mass-like a picture frame accentuates the picture. Secondary items include music, church architecture, some gestures, liturgical decorations, etc. The Primary Essence of The Mass is the Sacrificial Love of Jesus, esp in the Words of Consecration and prayers which cannot be changed, which express, Jesus' Mystical Self-Giving. We need to realize this, focus on it and help the external lead to the internal, the physical propel to the metaphysical. …So, how can you realize these "two levels" of Reality, keep them in balance and Worship the Eucharist Lord more deeply?

Seek Him First: A few weeks ago my priest-friend Fr Jim finished a medical procedure successfully at the hospital and was leaving in a wheelchair. Just before getting into the car he said, Wait, take me over there, please, to the chapel. We brought him over, and then into the chapel, and he prayed in front of the Tabernacle, where Jesus Christ was Present. Then, he left…Do you seek Him like him?

Before Mass: Pray these famous words-"Lord help me to celebrate this Mass as though it were my first Mass, my last Mass and my only Mass."… Focus and realize what you are entering into.

My First Communion: I remember dressing up with my First Communion in a white and golden robe, before Mass at home, and proudly-parading around in our big back yard for pictures on a beautiful sunny day. It was all bright. After that, it's kind of a blur-even how much money I got …Point: are you bright inside for Holy Communion? Is the aura of your day and be-ing brightened in the soul by the very thought of Jesus in the Sacrament helping you to be lightened?

A Most Unique Mass: when I was in Calcutta I once said Mass in Mother Teresa's Home of the Dying, Kahlighat, an old Hindu temple. Daily we volunteers would work with dying patients (50 men and 50 women)-- feeding and helping them. It was an intense atmosphere. One day the headmistress Sr Luke asked me to say Mass there. Right there. Ground zero, "in the trenches"-where people were surviving and dying,…I recall Hindu and Muslim and Catholic men, the whites of their eyes out of skinny bodies, looking up at this Sacred Meal, all transformed by the One Who Died that we might live. Jesus extends himself in dire situations.

Universal Mass: In the Parish I was last assigned we had a large Nigerian contingent, and we had Bishop Ugorji visit, while he was baptizing his nephew who was parishioner. I wasn't' sure what expect in the Mass, but I found a stunningly reverent and serenely peaceful Mass-tranquil in a different way than any Mass I'd been to before... The Form of the Mass changes, Jesus Christ is the same.

Piety and Devotion: Though not popular words and realities today, practice. Them. Recently at a mass in a church hall, on hardwood floors, all the people kneeled for Consecration and Communion time. No problem: Embrace hardships and practice piety and thereby increase devotion to pray with body and soul!

Holy Land Mass: At Dominus Flavit church, years ago I celebrated Mass with some pilgrims. The Light of the Day and the Lord pervaded the sacred celebration thru a large window overlooking Jerusalem, where The Lord Wept before His Passion. What a privilege to have Mass there,to have Mass period, to fuse-into His Sorrows for the world's sin and sinners…Remember the sorrows of the Lord amidst the celebration.

Processions: I've heard for a couple weeks, now, of two Baltimore parishes planning elaborate processions to publicly proclaim Jesus Christ in a Corpus Christi Procession. The Grotto has lent processional candles to one parish. I'm thankful for hearing of such events-not as throwback, but, rather, as push forward to following Jesus and proclaiming Him to world. That is what evangelization is all about, isn't it? Why doesn't everyone get in on the act?

Dress up for Mass-especially Sunday Eucharist-Yes! A few weeks ago I went to Christian's First Holy Communion. He was gleaming-handsome: dressed up for Jesus in an all-white suit,from head to toe. And his insides were as bright as his outside! (He said he wants to be a priest!)...Oppositely, a week ago, a man in a sport coat noticed a man in front of him wearing a semi-pornographic shirt. This was inappropriate-offensive-esp at Mass and Our Lady's Grotto-the very polar opposite of young Christian and his handsomeness. .Well, the dressed-up man arose,, took off his blazer, and asked the man to wear his coat over the offensive shirt . The man took the coat and wore it…Do you have courage to defend Our Lord and Eucharist?

Lourdes Mass: I planned a pilgrimage to Lourdes last year and so did, I later found out, Pope John Paul. It was a kinda' "beautiful chaos" of people-- worship services and gatherings with the Holy Father. The finally was Sunday, August 15, Assumption Day.-a huge outdoor Mass-almost a hundred thousand people -complete for us "distant participant-viewers" with large video screens to worship with the far-off Pope. Thing is: it was really bright and warm. I remember kindly volunteers cheerfully coming to water-spray anyone who wanted refreshment form the torrid sun; and, even, some youth were carried off on stretchers because of heat exhaustion. Meanwhile the Pope continued the Mass, and the Eucharistic Lord came…Amidst this different kind of Eucharist I enjoyed the sacred-yet-gritty-festival-feel of it all. Jesus was Present, truly, there amidst it all.

What is Adoration of Blessed Sacrament?: Sit or kneel in front of Him in the Blessed sacrament, or in the Tabernacle. Half the time talk to Him (ACTS acronym of prayer = Adoration, Contrition/Confession; Thanksgiving; Supplication); the other half of the time listen to Him. Practice often.

Still Can't Fathom: God is within me, earthly me, when I receive Holy Communion. Come. Let us humbly worship!

Sacred Teaching and Witness: Last week at Mass in St Peter's Libertytown, during Mass and consecration I saw a Dad guiding his beautiful little daughter with a Mass book, helping her to follow the prayers of Mass, and Jesus give Himself to us…So Teach your children to pray; deepen your own, and other's love for the Mass.

Profundity: Mom and dad were recently discerning whether their son Michael was ready to receive his First Holy Communion. That night they went to bed and the next day mom woke up and found a little picture Michael painted. It shows a Eucharistic host aloft a beautiful, golden chalice. Drawn children's style. What was so special? Out of the White Host was a single, elegant drop of Blood, flowing down toward the chalice. Remember-the Blood, the Sacrifice, the Love: All Divine. This child knew that, do you? Teach your children well.

Two-Yet-One: Last Supper and Calvary are related-mystically: During the Last Supper, Jesus had in His Mind and Heart the Sacrifice He would physically undergo the next day, and so He memorialized this by saying "Do this in memory of Me". The disciples, of course (and we today), later retrojected the Calvary experience with the Last Supper event, converging them into one Sacred Whole and receiving myriad blessings …Two events but also One Epiphany of God Emptying to mankind--Mystical Self Giving (cf. Col. 2:5)/

Preparation for Holy Communion: Simply put, go to Confession--do not receive if you have mortal/serious sin; confess at least once a month; take seriously the Confiteor at beginning of Mass ("I confess to Almighty God…"-ask forgive

ness for your thoughts, words, deeds); bow before receiving Holy Communion. Prayers After Communion: Learn and memorize these prayers Mother Teresa prayed daily after Communion: The Peace Prayer of St Francis, Anima Christi (attr. to St Ignatius) Radiating Christ (byCardinal Newman). If you don't know or have them, then get them! Memorizing or having them on a card helps you to focus at Mass, other wise, like many Catholics during Communion, you will get distracted, time will go by and you will have not really, deeply prayed. Be intentional.

Meditate Upon St Augustine's profound counsel-- "Believe what you eat; eat what you believe and become what you eat." Prayer immediately after receiving Holy Communion: "He who eats My Flesh and drinks My blood will abide in Me and I in him" (Jn. 6:56).

Carry a Crucifix going to Mass and "refer" to it-the Corpus, Jesus' Body. The sacramental reminders inspire the soul to grasp the True Presence Body and Love!

Don't Leave Mass Early: Unless you have good reason this is sinful. To leave before then is a slight to the Lord and your neighbors. Would you leave a dinner of a good friend without saying goodbye?

St Thomas Aquinas preached this sermon in the presence of Pope Urban and Cardinals: "Sacred Banquet: It overflows and it is like a furnace, this love of God, who, in the banquet of regenerating grace gives unceasingly, through the ministry of his priests, his own flesh to be eaten, and his own precious blood to be dunk by them who are his own children and the heirs of the kingdom he has promised to them that love him. O marvelous Sacrament in which God lies concealed, and our Jesus, like another Moses, cloaks his face under the creatures he ha made! May all generations praise him! Wonderful is this sacrament in which, in virtue of the words of institution, charged with the divine power, the symbolic species are changed into flesh and blood; in which accidents subsist without a subject; and in which, without violation of nature's law, by consecration the single and whole Christ self-identically exists in different places - as a voice is heard and exists in many places - continuing unchanged, remaining inviolable when partaken, nor suffering any diminution; nay, he is whole and entire and perfect in each and every fragment of the host, as visual appearances are multiplied in a hundred mirrors. (From: Magnificent-May Issue)

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi