The Body and Blood of Christ

Let’s take a quiz: Which one of the following statements is true?Body and Blood of Christ

1. The consecrated bread and wine at Mass symbolizes the spirit and teachings of Jesus.

2. The consecrated bread and wine at Mass is the real presence of Jesus only during Mass.

3. The consecrated bread and wine at Mass is the real Body and Blood of Jesus if you believe it is so.

4. The consecrated bread and wine at Mass is the real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, and we can adore and worship the consecrated host and wine as our God.

Before you answer, here are a couple of hints:
1. The Catholic Church has always taken the words of Jesus literally when He said “Take and eat; this is my body… All of you must drink from (the cup) for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, to be poured out in behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matt 26:26-28) And, when Jesus said: “I am the Bread of Life … unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (Jn 6:48-53).

2. Our Catholic Catechism states: C 1374 In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist is “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.”

The correct answer to the above quiz is, of course, #4.

From the earliest days of the Church the Holy Eucharist was believed to be the real Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. At the moment of consecration during Mass the bread and wine miraculously transform into the Body and Blood of our Savior. And the elements will never be just bread and wine again. That’s why extra care is taken to cleanse the paten and chalice after communion. That’s why we place the remaining consecrated hosts securely in the tabernacle. That’s why we can come before the Lord hidden within the tabernacle and really be in the presence of Jesus our Lord and God. That’s why we can adore our Lord in the Eucharist during Eucharistic Adoration.

According to Jesus, receiving Him in the Eucharist is not an option. Our Lord tells us clearly: “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” Jesus is telling us: without Holy Communion we will starve and die spiritually.

The feast of Corpus Christi (The Body and Blood of Christ) was established in 1264 by Pope Urban IV to emphasize the importance of what we are called to do every week, that is, to celebrate Holy Mass, professing our belief in the Holy Eucharist, and to receive our Lord in Holy Communion. The Pope asked St. Thomas Aquinas to write hymns for the feast. Aquinas wrote the Tantum Ergo and O Salutaris – hymns we still sing at Eucharistic Adoration.

Jesus promised his disciples that he would be present to them until the end of time. Our Lord is faithful to His promise by His real presence in the Holy Eucharist.

God and S’mores

Holy TrinityKids are naturally inquisitive. Some times their constant questioning about life drives their parents crazy, especially when the parents do not know the answer!

One question that we will never be able to answer fully or understand completely is: What is God like? But, we should keep on asking the question.

Jesus, of course, is the fullest revelation of who God is and what He is like. And, Jesus revealed to us that God is a Holy Trinity – three persons in one God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

OK. But what does that mean? Well, the best we could do is to give analogies, so as to get a “handle” on this truth. St. Patrick is known for his analogy of comparing the Holy Trinity to a shamrock – three leaves on one stem. Another analogy is the three states of H2O: liquid (water), solid (ice), vapor (steam).

How about this one? God is like a s’more. You know, that wonderful treat made of three different things – chocolate, toasted marshmallow sandwiched between two graham crackers.

The graham cracker part could be likened to God the Father. The chocolate part is God the Son, and, the toasted marshmallow part could be the Holy Spirit. When we put these three things together, we get a trinity of wonderful flavors to satisfy our sweetest taste buds. In regards to our God, when Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are united as one, we get the most satisfying treat of all. We get the “Holy Trinity,” and that will satisfy ALL our needs and desires.

This may be a mouth-watering analogy of how to get a grasp of the Holy Trinity, but of course this one, like all others, has its limitation.

Our Catholic catechism (#234) calls the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity the central mystery of our Christian faith and life, because it is the mystery of God in himself. The doctrine of the inner relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in such that each of them is fully and equally God. There are not three Gods but one.

Though we will never fully comprehend the mystery of our God, knowing God is a Holy Trinity teaches us something very important about Him and about us.

First: God does not exist in solitary individualism but in a community of love and sharing. God is not a loner. This means that a Christian in search of God must shun every tendency to isolationism. The ideal Christian spirituality is not that of flight from the world like that of certain other religious traditions. Christianity draws us into communion with others.

Secondly, true love requires three partners. You remember the old saying “Two is company, three is a crowd.” The Trinity shows us that three is community; three is love at its best; three is not a crowd.

We are made in God’s image and likeness. Just as God is God only in a Trinitarian relationship, so we can be fully human only in a relationship of three partners. The human person needs to be in a horizontal relationship with others and a vertical relationship with God. In that way our life becomes Trinitarian like that of God. I am a Christian insofar as I live in a relationship of love with God and other people.

United In Faith We Are Strong

peter-paul-unityIn a Peanuts cartoon Lucy demanded that Linus change TV channel, threatening him with her fist if he didn’t.

“What makes you think you can walk right in here and take over?” asks Linus.

“These five fingers,” says Lucy.

“Individually they’re nothing but when I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold.”

“Which channel do you want?” asks Linus. Turning away, he looks at his fingers and says, “Why can’t you guys get organized like that?”

In unity there is strength.  This weekend we celebrate the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul—two great pillars of our Catholic faith.  Peter and Paul were quite different in their backgrounds, yet they were united in faith.

Who were Peter and Paul?

Both of them were Jewish, that is true.  But Peter was a blue-collared fisherman, while Paul was a highly educated Pharisee.

Peter was called personally by Jesus, was made head of the apostles by Jesus, and given the keys of the kingdom.

Paul, on the other hand, probably never met Jesus face to face. He once was a persecutor of the Church. His conversion came about through a vision on the road to Damascus that left him blind. His inspiration and his style of presenting the gospel came from visions and charismatic experiences.

Sometimes, Peter and Paul did not see eye to eye.  For instance, Paul once had a public disagreement with Peter on whether Jewish Christians could eat together with Gentile Christians. (Galatians 2).

However, if Peter and Paul did not agree in life, they did agree in death. Both suffered the same kind of death, martyrdom, in the same city, Rome, at about the same time, 64-67 A.D.

 Two pillars of the Church

The early Church recognized Peter and Paul as the two pillars of the Church of Christ. This is depicted in an ancient icon with Peter on the right and Paul on the left, each extending a hand with which they bear up the Church.

By placing two of them together in one icon, united in lifting up the Church, the Church is sending a message to all her children that they likewise should be united, in spite of individual and local differences.  We are all called to build up the one Church of God.

Peter and Paul were two different men, who had different ideas.  But when it came to living their lives for Jesus Christ—they were united as one.  They professed one Lord, one baptism, one faith.  And in this unity, they provided the strong foundation of our church.

Strong in unity

Saints Peter and Paul exemplify to us that even if we are different and even if we have disagreements, we can still live and work together in the Church.

We can find reconciliation with one another through God’s grace and love.

Together we are better.  Together, united in one faith, we are strong.

 

Did Jesus Have to Go Back to Heaven?

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A number of years ago I was teaching a 2nd grade class about how Jesus suffered and died on the Cross and how all His disciples were really sad.

But when Jesus rose from the dead all His disciples were overjoyed.

Then for forty days Jesus appeared to His disciples and taught them about the Kingdom of God.

Jesus’ friends never wanted Him to leave. But the time came for Jesus to leave his friends and go back to His Father in heaven.

There was a boy who was more innocent than the others, and was really getting into the emotions of Gospel scene, and was disturbed that Jesus would leave his friends. He blurted out: “But why did Jesus have to go back to heaven? Why couldn’t He just stay with His friends?” [Read more...]

Mary Help of Christians

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On May 24 all around the Salesian world the Salesian family celebrates the feast day of Mary Help of Christians.

“The Help of Christians” is the title St. John Bosco chose to venerate the Blessed Mother.

There have been certain times and places in history when communities of Christians have experienced the power of Mary’s intervention in most dramatic ways.  [Read more...]