Dear Fellow Parishioners,
This weekend we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. “The Eucharist occupies a unique place as the ‘Sacrament of sacraments.’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1211) “The Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life. The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.’” (CCC 1324)
Wow! Do you realize what we as Catholics are saying here? “In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist ‘the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained’…a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.” (CCC 1374)
Double Wow! Thus, it should not surprise us that this great mystery continues to befuddle good people of faith down through the centuries. For Catholics, the Eucharist is not merely a sign or a symbol; rather, it is the real presence of Jesus Christ. This doctrine sets us apart from most Christians, and continues to be one of the great stumbling blocks within the ecumenical movement. While all good Christians would like to see the many Christian churches come together — for always remember that Jesus established “one, holy, catholic (universal) and apostolic church — the reality is, there is no compromise here; namely, you either believe in the real presence or you do not.
This is one of the reasons why the missal (i.e. the guide to Mass) you find in church includes the section Guidelines For Receiving Communion. Here we explain how Catholics, fellow Christians, those not receiving Holy Communion, and non-Christians are to approach the Eucharist. This is also the reasons why our funeral worship aids include the section Reception of Communion which states: “Non Catholics are welcome either to remain seated or to join the Communion procession to receive a blessing. To request a blessing, simply cross your hands over your chest.”
Controversial? Radical? Yes, this central belief of our Catholic faith is challenging. Down through the years of my ministry I have had many people come rushing up to me after a Mass to say how disappointed and even angry they were that we do not share the Eucharist with non-Catholics. They always point out that many other Christian churches share the Eucharist. How should
I/we respond to such objections? All I/we can do is simply invite people to learn more about and possibly join our Catholic faith.
I/we do not have a right to go against or change this central doctrine of our Catholic faith. Just as Jesus endured much hardship and persecution during his lifetime, so must any Catholic who truly understands and embraces his/her faith. Yes, it is hard to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
P.S., Happy Father’s Day to all our dads! Remember the words of Pope John XXIII: “It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a father.” Thus, let us pray for all our dads