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Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), Cycle C June 2, 2013

About 4 years ago, Bishop Fellhauer granted me the privilege of a 3 month sabbatical which I did at the Institute for Continuing Priest Formation at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. The PNAC is the American seminary in Rome. Young men from all over the United States attend the PNAC to study theology and to receive their formation as future priests. Some of those seminarians volunteer to be tour guides for English-speaking pilgrims visiting St. Peters Basilica. One of the seminarians who gives tours of St. Peters told me of an interesting incident. He was leading a group of Japanese tourists who knew absolutely nothing of our faith. With particular care he explained the great masterpieces of art, sculpture and architecture. He finally concluded at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel trying his best to explain quickly what it was. As the group dispersed, an elderly man, who had been particularly attentive stayed behind, and said, Pardon me. Would you explain again this Blessed Sacrament? The young seminarian did, after which the man exclaimed, Ah, if what you say is true, then what is in this chapel is a greater work of art than anything else in this basilica. Today we celebrate the Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ. Traditionally, this feast is called Corpus Christi (Latin for Body of Christ). This feast reminds us that Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist both as a sacramental banquet and a sacrificial offering and we must never lose sight of this both-and reality of this mystery. Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist as a sacrament meaning that the Holy Eucharist is a visible sign that gives us Gods grace and Gods life. It is also a visible sign of the food that nourishes our souls. But Jesus also instituted the Holy Eucharist as a sacrifice. Every Holy Mass, every celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist is a re-presentation of Jesus sacrifice on Calvary, completed in His Resurrection. By means of this most holy sacrament, we are able to transcend the confines of space and time and, quite literally, stand at the foot of the Cross as Jesus offers His life for us. It is by thisthrough the means of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that we are saved and Heaven becomes a possibility for us. In the Most Holy Eucharist, Jesus has given us a means by which we poor, miserable, unworthy creatures can, in fact, offer to God the Father the one and only sacrifice which is, fact, pleasing to Him. The Most Holy Eucharist is the only acceptable sacrifice by which God is truly, fully, and completely worshipped and adored. Without, this most holy sacrament, we would find ourselves standing in the place of Cainoffering to God an unacceptable and useless sacrifice. We would be lost. So what then does the feast of Corpus Christi mean for our lives? Well, perhaps, first and foremost it is a reminder to us that we should spend every day of our lives growing in a deeper appreciation of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. We must never receive Him in Holy Communion without true repentance for our sins, due preparation and reverence. This feast calls us to offer our lives on the altar along with Jesus sacrifice, asking pardon for our sins, expressing gratitude for the blessings we have received and presenting our needs and
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Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), Cycle C June 2, 2013

petitions on the altar. It is not an accident that the Liturgy of the Eucharist begins with the priests invitation, just before the bread and wine become the Body & Blood of Christ, to Pray, brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father. Lastly, this feast reminds us that we are called to be Christ-bearers. By receiving Holy Communion, we become Christ-bearers as Mary was, with the duty of conveying Christ to others at home and in the workplace, through love, mercy, forgiveness and humble and sacrificial service. Before the proclamation of the Holy Gospel on this feast day, the Church proclaims the sequence, Lauda Sion, for good reason: Lo! The angels food is given / To the pilgrim who has striven; / See the childrens bread from heaven, / which on dogs may not be spent. / Truth the ancient types fulfilling, / Isaac bound, a victim willing, / Paschal lamb, its lifeblood spilling, / manna to the fathers sent. / Very bread, good shepherd, tend us, / Jesu, of your love befriend us, / You refresh us, you defend us, / Your eternal goodness send us / In the land of life to see. / You who all things can and know, / Who on earth such food bestow, / Grant us with your saints, / though lowest, / Where the heavnly feast you show, / Fellow heirs and guests to be. Amen. Alleluia! Father Bob Knippenberg Pastor