Corpus Christi – What’s Missing
The Feast of Corpus Christi is upon us. [ed. note: Tomorrow, June 16, on the old calendar and for most of the world, or this coming Sunday, the 19th, for the U.S. new calendar]. I don’t mind that it is now rendered as the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. It’s the same, all one about One. It is the feast of the most sanctifying aspect of our Faith.
Jesus Christ, Son of God, gave Himself to us under the appearances of bread and wine – He blessed and distributed the same to His Apostles and said “This is My Body….This is My Blood.” Jesus Christ, who is Truth, cannot lie, it is the Real Presence before us. Are we even worthy to gaze upon Him?
My old St. Andrew’s Daily Missal (1962) has a longer version for the Corpus Christi reading from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians than the one we have before us this year (Cycle C within the three-cycle round robin of Sunday scriptures). Instead of merely recounting the words at the Last Supper, the words we hear at every Mass (I Cor. 11:23-26), Paul actually took it step further, for he added:
This means that whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily sins against the Body and Blood of the Lord. A man should examine himself first; only then should he eat of the bread and drink of the cup. He who eats and drinks without recognizing the Body eats and drinks a judgment on himself.I Cor. 11:27-29
Who among those clerics who designed this particular reading for this particular day, made the cut? Was it an “oops” moment? Was the reading thought to be too long, while others drone on and on? Was it thought to be too harsh against our come one, come all mentality?
The emphasis on worthiness is something we should have been hearing for the last 50 years, a catechesis essential to our Faith. Perhaps these jeweled words would have made us sinners think twice about receiving the Holy Eucharist just because everyone in the church is doing so. Maybe hearing this, many in the church walls would realize they shouldn’t make themselves guilty of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Reception of the Holy Eucharist isn’t some prize for showing up, it isn’t a reward for doing a good job for someone, it is the Christ who is saving us from the vain glories of the world and drawing us to Himself, inspiring us to desire union with Him forever in heaven.
You wouldn’t guess holiness is in most churches now. The sense of the sacred is missing, even with the tabernacle front and center. Things are so lackadaisical, witness the loud chattering by the congregation after the last blessing. Community is in, worship is out. What has been lost is the sense of the Real Presence before us.
It is said that St. Anthony (whose feast was June 13) was accosted by heretics in his time who wanted to embarrass the Faith, similar to the snide mockery, “If you are the Christ, come down from the cross.” One such heretic brought before Anthony a starving mule, a dumb animal which lived by instincts. The man wanted to challenge the teaching of the Real Presence and held out to the mule fresh grasses in one hand and the Sacred Host in the other. It is said the mule ignored the grasses and instead knelt before the Host.
Would that the human beasts around us had the intelligence to do the same, to avoid desecration by their unworthiness and bend their knees in humble adoration.
This article, Corpus Christi – What’s Missing is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
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