My fortieth anniversary celebration in Baltimore
THE FEAST OF THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST (CORPUS CHRISTI) ~ Sunday June 18, 2017
Today is our Roman Catholic feast of Corpus Christi in which pause to appreciate and give thanks for the wonderful gift of the holy Eucharist.
I’d like to reflect for a moment on what we Catholics believe about this wonderful sacrament.
We believe in the Real Presence of Jesus — that the bread and wine are transformed into his Body and Blood. Thus, for us communion is an actual sharing in Divine Life, not just a symbol.
It is stumbling block for many ~ not only for many Protestants but many a Catholic who never really gets it because they don’t let it transform their lives.
And ~ um ~ I know some priests who don’t get it or live it either.
As for me, it would be very hard for me to live without the holy Eucharist.
Here’s what I believe and (try to) live:
Communion means union. Closeness and intimacy with our Lord.
And with one another.
In other words, communion is love.
But do we really believe? Do we want to accept the implications of that closeness?
Do we want to be transformed by Jesus’ love?
Do we want to live in common-union with our brothers and sisters?
Do we take for granted this gift ~ for us?
It is given to us so that we might become that gift ~ for others.
So that we might become the Real Presence of Christ in the world!
A couple of years ago in the liturgical magazine Magnificat, editor Father Peter John Cameron, O. P. asked the question:
“What are we celebrating on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi?”
He suggested an answer with the amazing made-up word of J. R. R. Tolkien: eucatastrophe.
(Tolkien, you may recall, is the author of the amazing tales of the Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and many other fantasy stories.)
“What is “eucatastrophe?
In one of his letters, Tolkien writes:
I coined the word ‘eucatastrophe’: the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears (which I argued it is the highest function of fairy-stories to produce). And I was there led to the view that it produces its peculiar effect because it is a sudden glimpse of Truth, your whole nature chained in material cause and effect, the chain of death, feels a sudden relief as if a major limb out of joint had suddenly snapped back. It perceives – if the story has literary ‘truth’ on the second plane (….) – that this is indeed how things really do work in the Great World for which our nature is made.
Just as the hero of a mythical tale is on the verge of a disastrous dead-end, with his demise looming before him, terrible and inevitable, the eucatastrophe happens:
The good catastrophe, the sudden joyous “turn” ….. this joy is a sudden and miraculous grace …. It denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal defeat …., giving a fleeting glimpse of joy, joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.
Tolkien considered the Incarnation as the eucatastrophe of human history, and the Resurrection the eucatastrophe of the Incarnation.
Eucharist as eucatastrophe
On Good Friday, as the Apostle John stands before the gruesome sight of his friend scourged to a pulp and splayed out on a cross, why doesn’t he cave in despair?
Because of what John had heard the night before. The Lord’s words at the Last Supper and the Lord’s death on Calvary remain caught up with each other.
The beloved disciple refuses to regard the crucifixion as ‘a mere execution without a discernible point to it’ precisely because he lives in memory of the Eucharistic words of his redeemer: “This is my body; this is my blood given up for you.” The sacrifice in flesh and blood happening before his eyes on Golgotha, Jesus pre-enacted at the Holy Thursday Table.
The eucatastrophic words of the Eucharist enable us to see beyond the substance of scandalous failure and disgrace. What seems on the outside to be savage brutality becomes an event of total self-giving love when viewed from ‘within.’ The Eucharistic words foretell that, on Calvary, violence will be definitely transformed into love, and death into life. By the sudden joyous turn and miraculous grace of the Eucharistic words, we penetrate the act of self-giving love offered to us from the cross.
As Pope Francis says, in the encyclical The Light of Faith: ‘To those who suffer, God does not provide arguments which explain everything; rather his response is that of an accompanying presence . . . which . . . opens up a ray of light'” (# 57)
~Father John Peter Cameron, O. P. , Editor, The Magnificat
For me, the Eucharistic words have sustained me many times with “joy, accompanied by tears” as I experienced my sinfulness, my woundedness, my brokenness.
When I receive our Lord in holy communion I pray deep in my heart ~ and perhaps you can too:
Lord Jesus, You became — You are still — bread-broken
and blood-poured out for the sake of the world.
As I receive the precious gift of the Eucharist
may I become Your body
and Your body become mine.
May Your blood course through my own blood stream.
I want to be transformed by my communion with you, Lord.
Transformed from my self-centered lusts and angers and petty jealousies
Let me become Your Body-broken
and Your Blood-poured-out
into a world that needs You
now more than ever.
To You, Jesus, be honor and glory and praise
this day and forever!
So be it! Amen!
Now, before you go, here’s a hymn to go with it for your reflection. Click here.
And here are today’s Mass readings. Click here.