2010-06-10 - . . . Body and Blood of Christ . . .
The liturgical cycle has moved from Pentecost Sunday, celebrating the gifts of the Holy Spirit, to the Holy Trinity, celebrated last Sunday, the mystery of which comes to us in the Body and Blood of Christ, celebrated on this feast of Corpus Christi.
It is intimidatingly easy to end up saying the wrong things about these mysteries by trying to say the right thing. Heretics usually start out with a sincere desire to make obscure things clearer. A case in point is trying to explain the real presence of Christ in the sacred species of the altar by concentrating on Him alone. Some speak rather cloyingly of "going to say hello to Jesus," as if a Holy Hour were a courtesy call on a retired clergyman; and there are, sad to say, some priests who have a compulsive twitch to change the words of the Mass when they raise the Host, so that instead of "Behold the Lamb of God," they will say, "This is Jesus." The problem with these expressions is not that they are wrong, for they are right, but that they are not right enough.
The Holy Eucharist brings the undivided God to us, and Christ makes visible the divine indivisibility. What the Three Persons are in themselves is what they are to each other, and what they do is not done in the isolation of one from the others. When the Host is lifted at the altar, the Holy Spirit recalls to the hearts of the faithful the words of Jesus: “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
Today a bishop, as successor of the apostles, will give a number of our children their First Communion, and will Confirm some with the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is hoped that when they are older, the Holy Spirit will have made them more able to explain the Eucharist, but they will never be more open to God's grace than in this time of innocence. The three little children in Fatima encountered the Eucharist more profoundly than any doctor of divinity. In 1916, the year before Our Lady appeared to them, they saw the "Angel of Portugal" suspended in the air and prostrate before a Host from which drops of blood poured into a chalice. The angel then gave the children communion: "Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ." On May 13, 1917, the mother of God appeared to the children with light pouring onto them from her hands. By a common inspiration, the untutored children knelt and repeated: "Oh, most Holy Trinity, I adore You! My God, my God, I love You in the most Blessed Sacrament!" The daughter of the Father and mother of the Son and spouse of the Holy Spirit was joining them in Eucharistic praise of the most Holy Trinity.