Saturday, June 05, 2021

Solemnity of Corpus Christi- The Body And Blood of Christ

Corpus Christi is one of God's  most beautiful and precious gifts.  It is beautiful because it encompasses the reality of the Trinity being present , and precious because it is a gift which we do not deserve and yet was given to us freely and unconditionally.  Many Saints and spiritual writers spent many long hours of contemplation before our Eucharistic Lord, and put down in writing what they have experienced during those hours of prayer and contemplation.  And yet, all of them would tell us that there is no word to describe the gift of this Presence of Jesus in this simple piece of bread.  The Holy Eucharist is both a unifying doctrine for those who accept in faith the words of Jesus, "This IS My Body!" in the passage of the Last Supper, and a stumbling block  for those who do not yet believe.  For us, Catholics, the Holy Eucharist is not just a representation of Jesus, it IS Jesus Himself, the  Real Presence.  It is not just the product of a collective imagination of pious people but a mystery presented to us which can only be apprehended by faith alone.  The Holy Eucharist is one of those mysteries of  " believe to understand" , as opposed to "understand to believe." (paraphrasing St. Augustine).

Catholic Apologists (a curious description since they are not "apologizing for anything!) are excellent guides in this debate since they point to us the Scriptural passages supporting the Real Presence.  The Holy Eucharist is inseparable from the gift and mystery of Holy Priesthood.  There is no Eucharist without the Ordained Priesthood.  They are like hand to glove, if I may be permitted to use this expression.  The Old Testament is full of prefigurations of the Eucharist: the Israelites journey in the desert for forty days and forty nights fed only by manna; the raven feeding the prophet Elijah with bread to strengthen him on his journey to Horeb, and many others.  The New Testament continues this in the many parables told by Jesus: the feeding of the five thousand, the five loaves and two fish, and most of all , Chapter 6 of St. John's Gospel.  It is most of all the events of the Last Supper which form the foundation of what we now accept as Catholics: the Institution of the Holy Priesthood and the Holy Eucharist on Holy Thursday night.
Jesus left us His Body and Blood for one reason alone: that we may have eternal life.  "he who eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the Last Day."  The Eucharist is a remedy for sin and a source of strength for living the life of virtues.  If we do not eat His Body, we do not have life in us.  We may be walking and talking, and may be living a "full life" but if we do not have the life of Jesus in us given to us in the Eucharist, we are dead men and women walking.  It is not enough to receive the Eucharist.  We must receive it worthily.  St. Paul says that we have to be mindful that when receiving we may not be bringing our own condemnation because we are receiving in sin.  To receive worthily does not mean we have to be "perfectly good."  It means that at the time of reception we are not conscious of being in the state of mortal sin.  Being in mortal sin means committing an act that is grave or serious, committing it with full knowledge, and committing it with our full consent.  In other words, we know something is seriously against God's commandments, we know it, and still we do it.  Grace is restored to us through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Confession of our sins  to an ordained priest (Sacramental Confession) makes us worthy once again to receive our Lord.  Being worthy  sacramentally-  for who of us is really worthy to receive such  infinitely good and gracious God?
As we celebrate the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, let us be mindful of the love which made this possible.  St. Therese once said that God made Himself a "Divine Prisoner" for love of us.  He allows Himself to remain in the tabernacle so that we can approach Him with confidence in times of sorrows and temptations.  He hides Himself under the appearance of a tiny piece of  bread, so that we can contemplate Him in faith.  St. Therese also reminds us that "Jesus did not come to earth to remain in the ciborium but  so that after entering our souls in holy communion we can in turn go out to bring Him to others in charity.
Let us celebrate this day of devotion with much love.  Let us return Love for love.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Saint Mary Magdalen de Pazzi

 Feast day:  May 25th

St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi was one of those souls in Carmel endowed by God with the gift of an abundant mystical life.  A reading of her life will make one's head spin from the many flights of supernatural experiences she was gifted with.  Following her in these mystical states is like going on a roller-coaster ride with its ups and downs, and being left with a splitting headache! Although it is true that St. Mary Magdalene's life was characterized by mystical experiences, we should not forget that these experiences were just but the overflow of the one reality we all are invited to experience- a deep love of God.  The Book of the Song of Songs testifies to it: 'deep waters cannot quench love.. if one would give everything one has to acquire it, she would be roundly mocked."  The love of God is pure gift,  infused into our hearts  to produce an overwhelming experience which brings in its trail wonderful things.  It also brings fire of purification necessary to burn the soul's imperfection and to transform it into the likeness of God.  Such was the life of St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, the Seraph of Carmel.  St. Mary Magdalene's body is incorrupt.

More of St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Easter Blessings and Joy!

“A woman about to give birth has sorrow, because her hour has come.  But when she has brought forth the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for her joy that a man is born into the world ” (John 16:21).
This passage from the Gospel of John articulates for me the joy of Easter.  Our Lord endured many sufferings because of His great love for us.  Now in his glorious resurrection He has given birth to new sons and daughters of the Church.  We have now put aside the penance of Lent and are now basking in the Easter triumph our Lord gained for us.  Easter is not only a season in the calendar but a journey of faith, hope and love, lived in the everyday.  It is a prefiguration of the Christian reality that the sufferings and difficulties of this world are passing and a time of unending joy will come.  It is the calm after the storm.
It was the witness of the Resurrection that gave the apostles courage to proclaim boldly the Good News of Jesus.  It was the same Resurrection that gave the early Christians perseverance in their times of cruel persecutions.  This is the same Resurrection presented to us by the Church every year.  What do we do with this great treasure?  Our Christian vocation calls us to witness to this great event and the promise it brings.  For a Christian, the cross should not be experienced as oppressive but redemptive.  We are  people of the Resurrection.

Easter is a singular event second only to none.  St. Paul says that if Jesus did not rise from the dead our faith is empty and in vain.  If the Resurrection did not happen we are the most pitiable of people because we are still in our sins and those who have died in Christ are the deadest of the dead.  For unbelievers or the mediocre, Easter is all about flowers, eggs and bunnies!  Cute but empty unless we recognize in these symbols a sign of new life and new beginnings.  We like to make New Year's resolutions to start off the year.  Easter resolutions are also appropriate.  Easter gives us great hope because it gives us the reassurance that darkness turns to light, sorrow to joy, and death to life.  How beautiful is our faith!! Despite the burdens and scandals in the Church, despite the disillusions and clamor for change, the Church will rise triumphant!  The Bride of Christ, the Church, is purified from its stains and imperfections.  Every year, newly baptized sons and daughters, bring new vigor of faith, new hopes and new zeal, creating something new from the old.  Yes, Jesus makes all things new!  HAPPY EASTER!

Friday, April 02, 2021

Holy Saturday

The silence of Holy Saturday speaks volumes.  In all appearances, all was lost, good was overcomed by evil.  The drama of the previous day was wrought with betrayal, confusion, fears, agony, pain, sorrow, and finally- dashed hopes.  "He saved others.  He cannot save himself" was a spectator's conclusion.  Jesus, who raised the dead and promised better days ahead, was silent.  His body was taken down from the infamous Cross and was wrapped in the arms of His Mother.  Mary, whose heart was pierced as she watched her Son suffer, wept in silence.  The woman wrapped in silence.  The whole world stood still waiting for God's next move.

"He was known to be of human estate, and it was thus that he humbled Himself, accepting death, even death on the Cross. Therefore, God greatly exalted Him." said St. Paul to his Letter to the Ephesians.

For those who believe, silence is not an absence.  Silence is a cloak which hides something beautiful.  At the right time, at the right moment, this silence shall burst forth into something unheard of, something singular.  Out of darkness, a light shall shine forth.  From the darkness of the grave, life will make itself known.  Jesus Christ died to give us life.  He suffered so that we in turn could find meaning in our sufferings.  He endured the rejections so that we could approach the throne of grace, confident that we will be received.  This suffering servant died to show us the science of the Cross.  The silence of God will yield to something beautiful.  In the silence of death, the whole world waits.  And the waiting will not be in vain....

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Where's the "Good" on Good Friday?

© srhelena2012

For Catholics this is not a new question.  As we celebrate the Lord's Passion on Good Friday, we are reminded once again  that Christ suffered and died for us.  It is hard enough for someone to die for a good person, but for a bad one,for sinners like us,  it is even more unfathomable.  This was St. Paul's insight.  When I listen to the reading of the Passion on Good Friday, I will surely ask myself as I have many times: "Jesus,couldn't you have saved me another way?  Why did you have to suffer and die?" If I was a theologian I would probably come up with some deep, intellectual explanations.  I would probably say that the measure of payment should be equal to the offense. It's perfect justice.  While that is true  I prefer to think that it was love and love alone which made Jesus do what he did. "No greater love one has than to lay down his life for his friends."  The Pharisees brought Jesus to his Cross but it was love that kept Him there.  Love for us and love for the Father.  It is really that simple.  And what do we do with that realization?  Saint John of the Cross had an insight: " Love is repaid by love alone."  St. Therese exclaimed "Love alone attracts me."  Saint  Elizabeth of the Trinity explains:
"A Carmelite (or any baptized person)  is a soul who has gazed on the Crucified One; who has seen Him offering Himself as a Victim to His Father for souls and, recollecting herself in this great vision of the charity of Christ, has understood the passionate love of His soul, and has wanted to give herself as he did!"  That is why Good Friday is good.  It makes us understand that sufferings taken or endured for God can become a source of so much good.  It also tells us that we are precious because we have been bought with a price more precious than any glittering gold- the life of God's only Son.  It is good because we have been brought back to God and we are once again heirs of the Kingdom.  So as we enter the drama of the Lord's suffering and death, we look with anticipation to the joys of a new life, a new beginning.  As the morning sun rises on  Easter Sunday, we can look forward with joyful anticipation to the promise made by the Risen Lord:  "See, I make all things new!"  We can always begin again...