04 June 2013

Some Thoughts on the Eucharist in the Wake of Corpus Christi

Not new or original thoughts-- in fact, they are a couple of thousand years old, and they have been held consistently by the Church.

The first is from St. Paul:

1 Corinthians 11:23-29

For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, And giving thanks, broke and said: Take ye and eat: This is my body, which shall be delivered for you. This do for the commemoration of me. In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood. This do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me. For as often as you shall eat this bread and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come. Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.

And from the Gospel of St. John:

I am the bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven; that if any man eat of it, he may not die.

I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.

For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever.

This is the "hard saying" (see v. 61) that has been the line of demarcation, directly and indirectly, in the Church's history. For as many of His disciples left Him when he said it, so too have many found it hard in the centuries since.

When we worship the Blessed Sacrament as God, we do so based on trust in Him and His Word, because after the sacred words of consecration, spoken first by Christ Himself, there is no change in the appearance of the sacred species.

This you know, of course. Like I said, it is not new. But I thought of it when I read the scriptures from Corpus Christi, and as I walked the procession with Our Lord in the neighborhood around the Oratory. I suppose that to some, that procession looks pretty silly, with all that fuss about a "piece of bread". But with the eyes of faith, it is a majestic sight.

So, as Canon Moreau said so eloquently, do not let us leave Him alone in the tabernacle. Let us visit Him often, or at least do so spiritually, "sending our angel" to greet Him there on our behalf.

Christ asks us in the Blessed Sacrament, as He asked the disciples in His discourse on the Bread of Life, "Will you leave me, too?"

Let us answer with St. Peter, "Lord, where shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

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