The Source and the Summit

Next Sunday, we will celebrate the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. When I was at St. John’s Gil- dehaus in the 1990’s, we went all out. There were little altars all around the property and we would have a Corpus Christi procession with a stop at each altar. As we stopped my pastor would bless us with the Eucharist, and then… BOOM! At each stop, a cannon would be fired. Yep, a real life, somewhat-smallish-but-still-packing-a-punch, cannon! (I may be wrong, but I think the only time the guys firing the cannon were at church was the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. I think more people might come to Mass if they got to fire a cannon!). The cannon, of course, represented the fact that there was something big, something amazing happen- ing. Cannons are fired at special events, home runs and the like. And at Gildehaus, we fired away.

I don’t think Webster Groves would let us shoot cannons in the city limits (pity), but we have a lot to celebrate with the Eucharist. This year, our Church in St. Louis is highlighting the gift of the Eucharist in our lives, what it means and how vital it is. A few thoughts on the Eucharist.

It is bigger than you think.

My problem with some of the talk about the Eucharist is that it tends to narrow it down. What we celebrate every Sunday (everyday for some of us) is nothing more or less than what Vatican II says is “the source and summit” of the Christian life. It is where we get our hope, our strength, our life.  It is the essence of what it means to be a Christian.

Theoretically we should celebrate the Sacraments of Initiation as Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. Of course, for most Catholics, we spin it around a bit and celebrate confirmation later. But our reception of the Eucharist makes us one with Christ, one with God, and one with each other. It is big. Cannon worthy big.

Real Presence

There is a concern amongst leaders of the Catholic Church that people have lost the concept that the Eucharist is the Real Presence of Christ. (80% of the respondents to the DMI from Holy Redeemer either agreed or strongly agreed with this.). I am not as concerned, because a lot of it depends on how one asks the question. And although it is Catholic doctrine that Jesus is really present in the form of bread and wine at Mass, he is also present in the Word of God proclaimed at Mass, in the gathered assembly and in the person of the priest/presider.

(That last part is hum…bling!).

Don’t take my word for it. This is from the Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy from Vatican II. To accomplish so great a work, Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, “the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross”, but especially under the Eucharistic species. By His power He is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself who baptizes. He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for He promised: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20)

Active Participation

The most profound difference between the Mass before Vatican II and afterwards is the active participation found at Mass. When I taught the Eucharist to my students at Borgia, I would play a video of a Tridentine Latin Mass. To be honest, there is a certain beauty found there, but after fifteen minutes my students were begging me to move on, because NOTHING HAPPENS FOR LONG PERIODS OF TIME. And the congregation could have easily been in another place altogether. They were merely spectators of an ornate ceremony. With Covid 19, sadly, we took a bit of a step back in terms of actively participating in the Eucharist. (It is hard to sing and respond with a face mask on.). I can sense when a congregation in involved and engaged and when it is not. And it makes a huge difference with how I preside at Mass, it makes a huge difference in our spiritual lives. The more you enter into the Mass, the more you will receive in the Mass. It is as simple as that.

Next weekend, I hope to discuss what I consider the movement of the Eucharist. (It is more a verb than a noun.). But in the meantime, I would ask that anyone reading this bulletin take an hour out of your life on Tuesday, June 14 (Flag Day!) and come to Eucharistic adoration. Ponder the gift of God’s grace, God’s life, God’s hope that we discover in the Eucharist. When we see the example of other people, our faith can be bolstered and deepened. (Maybe we can convince the other 20% about the Real Presence.). Do it for yourself, your family, your parish, your community, your world

Father Kevin

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