Audio Available!

Audio Available!
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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Corpus Christi: its power in Mary's "Fiat!"

This is a little long in its first draft, but I did not want to trim the text down online.  I promise the Mass homily will not be 15 minutes!


The story of Israel is the story of a soul. This is a good lesson for us today as we look at the words of Moses to the people of Israel before they enter the promised land.  The point of this phrase The story of Israel is the story of a soul, is that our spiritual journey to God is prefigured in Jewish history.  Their Egyptian captivity is our slavery to sin and its consequences, most of all, death.  Their deliverance through the Red Sea foreshadows our Baptism, where the freedom is won but the journey has just begun.  They are not home yet in the Promised Land of inheritance, which for the soul is of course heaven and eternal life.  Those 40 years represent our life's journey of continual discipleship, following the Lord and overcoming our faults, and persevering through our times of trial.  It is not always pretty, just like the Jews grumbled again and again, saying that they wished they were back stuck in the slavery of Egypt because at least it was something they were familiar with.  Indeed the Christian life is not easy.  But God provides manna in that purifying desert, and that manna for us is the Body and Blood of Jesus in Holy Communion.

Because the story of Israel is the story of a soul, we see that we are saved by the Eucharist as much as Baptism but in a different way. Just as Moses reminds the Jews today that they were done for without the manna that God gave them, so also we have Jesus telling us "Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you"!  We need the Eucharist.  Without it, our spiritual lives will waste away.

The Church's teaching about the Lord's Real Presence in the Eucharist has been clear in every century.  In the Catechism at par.1375 - St. John Chrysostom declares:
It is not man that causes the things offered to become the Body and Blood of Christ, but he who was crucified for us, Christ himself. The priest, in the role of Christ, pronounces these words, but their power and grace are God's. This is my body, he says. This word transforms the things offered.
And St. Ambrose says about this conversion:
Be convinced that this is not what nature has formed, but what the blessing has consecrated. The power of the blessing prevails over that of nature, because by the blessing nature itself is changed. . . . Could not Christ's word, which can make from nothing what did not exist, change existing things into what they were not before? It is no less a feat to give things their original nature than to change their nature.

No greater grace than in the Sacraments; and this is called the Sacrament of Sacraments, because here we are at Calvary, here our salvation is won, the blood of redemption is washed over our souls, and the Resurrection is before us in The Eucharistic Lord Jesus.  He is here with us forever.

So, for God's part, the Sacrament works every week.  Why does it take so long for it to work on our hearts?

For this to happen, we must do our part well.  The disposition of recipient limits the ability of God's grace to work within our lives.  God said to St. Angela of Foligno: "[Just] Make of yourself a capacity (an openness) and I will become an overflowing torrent!"  The obstacle is of course in our hearts and minds: we like the Jews find our habits, our past, and the wounds we carry make it hard for us to give our freedom to love as we should.  We choose to live in the false world we paint for ourselves instead of doing everything we can to get off the blinders and live within reality, however difficult the truth may be.  Or perhaps we are too comfortable in the status quo and that comfort begins to chain us down from any true happiness.  Whatever it us, the problem is we are failing to love God and neighbor as we should.
Our capacity is not as good as it should be. Are we praying daily with sincerity and fervor? Are we going to Mass weekly and making a humble and contrite confession regularly? Are we trying to bring God into every part of our lives, or have we become comfortable with sins,  however small they seem?  These are signs that we aren't as open as we could be.  And we all have room to grow.

[Just] Make of yourself a capacity (an openness) and I will become an overflowing torrent!  Mary made of herself such a capacity that God was able to do great things through her.  We should go to Mary for guidance on how to receive worthily the gift of the Eucharist.  She models for us the life of a disciple. So too do all the other saints and we should let them teach us too.  My saint for this year is Margaret Mary Alacoque, and I am still reading her writings and growing in devotion the Sacred Heart.  She is becoming a close friend and big sister to me.

But for all of us, Mary is our Mother, and she is Our Lady of the Eucharist.  We should give ourselves to her in order to let this sacrament move us.  Bishop Rhoades has graciously moved for a diocesan "mini-retreat" of the Marian consecration.  This is a beautiful gift that I know myself and other parishioners have benefited from in their lives.  So I encourage all of you, to look into this consecration!  Get into a group and do it together: it can be a group of relatives, or friends, or neighbors, a prayer group, a biking club, whatever!  Do this together and it will change your lives.  You will get to know 4 great saints, new big brothers and sisters: Louis de Montfort, Maximilian Kolbe, John Paul II, and Blessed Mother Teresa.  You will grow in making yourself a capacity so that God can become your overflowing torrent.  And you will know how to live more deeply the mystery of this greatest of all gifts in the Eucharist.

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