Monday, May 26, 2008

Year A Solemnity of Corpus Christi- Vespers

Reading: 1 Cor. 10,16-17

St. Paul asks the Corinthians, somewhat rhetorically: "The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ" (1 Cor 10,16)? Our participation in Christ is not limited to the time we spend at Mass, or the moment in which we receive communion. It is constitutive of our whole lives.

Anyone's understanding of Christ's real presence in the Eucharist is proportional to her understanding of Christ's presence in her daily life. As theologian Paul Philibert has observed: "If we think that the 'real presence' of Christ in the consecrated bread and wine," which constitute the "graced sign" of the Eucharist, "is the totality of the divine mystery that the church celebrates and 're-members,' we are missing a lot" (The Priesthood of the Faithful 138). By means of the graced sign we become in our very persons and all together, the fully "realized mystery," that is, Christ's body, active and present in the world as salt, light, and leaven. Hence, realizing this mystery is the objective of the Eucharist. For it is only by intentionally becoming the realized mystery that the Church is able to be the sacrament of salvation for the world. Without realizing the mystery of Christ's real presence in our lives we can never fully understand what we celebrate nor the gift we offer in the great exchange that occurs in the Mass.

When we come to realize the mystery of Christ's presence in our ordinary, everyday lives, the Eucharist becomes more than a divine gift of nourishment and love- though it certainly remains that- it also becomes the way we offer and give ourselves completely to God. When we say "Amen" to the words "the body of Christ," "the blood of Christ," we make ourselves a gift to God. In this way we offer ourselves to Christ, to being incorporated by him, to living in and through him. It is important to recognize that this sacrament of love is not only the sacrament of God's unbounded love for us, but of our response to God, who is love, our intentional and free participation in Christ's body and blood.


  1. Hi! This reminds me of something that came up in our School of Community this week -- several of us have a weekly Holy Hour, and many people were saying that during Eucharistic Adoration, they "feel" the presence of Christ, they can focus on Him, and it is "easy" to live their awareness of His power, but when they go into the messiness of daily life, they "lose" this feeling and forget the awareness. I proposed to them something that I myself do -- I set myself a holy hour, once a week, during which I go about my usual routine, but spend the hour adoring the presence of Christ in all the living tabernacles I meet along the path. I don't know yet whether anyone in my School of Community tried this, or what the results were, but I can say that it has been a very useful prayer in my own life, and has led to this awareness spilling out, and becoming much more intense, into the other hours of my life.

  2. I am always disappointed at how few people take part in adoration. We even have Benediction on Sunday evenings and not many avail themselves of that. I suppose that one encouraging sign is that some of those who do partcipate are younger people.

  3. I think it has a lot to do with what people are comfortable with, how they've been raised or catechized, etc. Younger people are willing to try new things, too. Where I live there is a significant population who take their weekly holy hour very seriously, but this doesn't solve all our human problems!

  4. It doesn't solve anything, but it strengethens one's resolve. Besides, disappointment is very far from discouragement.

  5. After reading a healthy dose of Is It Possible to Live This Way? yesterday, I would say that adoration and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament corresponds to one's desire. It takes time to work through the distractions, but the distractions only reveal to us our humanity, which constitutes who and what we are. Hence, too often we try to go beyond, but Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is here with us- here, now- not somewhere else. This, too, is where we are meant to be. It is not an accident.