Enough for me.

“Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.”

Thursday, we celebrated the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus. Today is the Sunday within the Octave, the eight-day period that began Thursday which we spend in celebration of Jesus’ wonderful gift to us. 

Is Jesus’ gift enough?

The Russian poet and singer-songwriter Bulat Okudzhava  wrote ‘The Prayer of François Villon,’ in Polish, Modlitwa François Villona. Its words are those of a person who prays that the Lord will grant gifts to all who ask, and after doing so would leave just a little for him. Its first stanza:

“As long as the world’s still turning, As long as the air’s still sweet, Lord, won’t you give to all of us Whatever it is we need. Give a mind to the wise one, To the coward a swift horse, Give some gold to the happy man, And don’t forget about me.” As the song ends, he repeats “Give a little to everyone, And don’t forget about me. Dajże nam wszystkim po trochu. I mnie w opiece swej miej.”

Is Jesus’ gift enough?

This song strikes home in its melancholy. Is God generous enough to leave just a little for me? Will He remember me in the midst of all the woe and strife in the world? Will my prayer rise up before Him? Will He reach out to me?

St. Thomas Aquinas answered that question as he contemplated the great gift of the Eucharist and our sharing in it. The bread, broken, fractured for us. The wine poured out. In each particle, in each droplet, the fulness of Jesus resides. No person receives more or less of Jesus. All receive equally. There is enough for all. Aquinas also echoes St. Paul in pointing out that while all receive the fulness of Jesus, it is the state of our heart that matters most.

Is Jesus’ gift enough? Yes. Is it enough for me? That is the real question. The state of our hearts in their attitude toward God, the state of our lives in their imaging of Jesus’ way, and our relationship to others shows whether what we have received is enough for us. It is not a question of God’s giving, but our receiving. If we have taken the gift seriously it has changed our hearts. The state of our heart matters most.

Let us, as we fall in worship before this great gift, receive Jesus as enough for me and live in Him. Let us then carry His fulness into the world and to our eternal reward.

Are we
hungry enough?

They all ate and were satisfied.

Last week, we discussed the hungry Jesus and His chief hunger, unity of life with the Father and Spirit and our participation in that reality, that meal where love is perfected. It is the meal to which We have gained access. We were left with the question: Are we hungry? Are we hungry enough to participate in God’s life?

Today we continue the celebration that began this past Thursday, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Holy Church sets aside special Octaves, eight days of celebration that follow special moments in our collective faith life. We celebrate Octaves after Christmas, the Epiphany, Easter, Pentecost, and Corpus Christi. You have to love a Church that focuses on celebrating!

Today’s Gospel tells us that crowd ate and were satisfied. Now we’ve all had plenty of meals where we ate, and remained unsatisfied, perhaps even disappointed.  Yet, when Jesus feeds us we find only satisfaction. The Gospel goes on to tell us that the leftovers filled twelve baskets– in other words, Jesus feeding us leads to an overflowing abundance.

Sunday, in the Octave, is a great moment to reflect. Do we really believe this? Does receiving this bread and wine really make us whole and satisfied? Does this activity, have any real meaning and reality? Do we have any overflowing abundance coming from this feeding? Are Jesus’ promises real?

Father, what are you saying? You’re confusing me. I’ve said that myself to people who called me to express what I really believed.

That is the question, not whether I am confusing you, but taking this very important moment, this eight-day period, and the rest of our lives to come to terms with what we really believe of God’s reality. We can read words – This is my Body. This is My blood. Do this… but reading alone will not move us from disbelief and unbelief and going-through-the-motions, to full faith and overflowing abundance.

If we do anything, as we meet the reality of Jesus’ Body and Blood today, as He passes us in procession, let us make an absolute affirmation of true faith and belief. Let us say and believe: He is here, and I am hungry for Him. Let us eat and be satisfied. Then with that realization of faith, come to see all His promises fulfilled in our lives to overflowing.

Bread for the
journey.

While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.

Some of us may have heard of, or may have even read Henri Nouwen’s “Bread for the Journey.” You can often find quotes from this book on church websites or in bulletins.

Henri Nouwen was a professor at Harvard University and Yale University before becoming the senior pastor at the L’Arche community in Toronto, Canada. L’Arche is a community of people with disabilities living together. Nouwen was a prolific writer and wrote numerous books on spirituality and daily living. Bread for the Journey is one of his most well known. It is a book centered on Jesus Christ as savior, teacher, creator, and peace giver.

Why is it such a popular book? Why does its title ring true for so many Christians?

One term we hear from time to time is way-bread, the Way-bread of the Altar. What a beautiful term. On the night that Jesus was to be arrested, before He was to be killed, He gave us Himself as way-bread.
As prefigured in the journey of Israel, across the dessert, to the Promised Land, where God gave them Manna, bread for the journey, so now Jesus has given us bread for the journey.

We so need this bread, and Jesus gave it to us. We need strength for the journey. We need Him to be part of us; strengthening us, reinforcing and building up what the world tries to tear down.

We hunger for that, both spiritually and physically. In receiving, we recognize that He really fills us for the journey.

Every week we pray, shortly after the Our Father, in the words of St. Paul: “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?” Our answer, for the journey, is Yes, yes it is. We have Him fully with us, Body, Blood, Soul, Divinity – fully on-board for the journey.

Nouwen’s title tings true because when we receive, we are receiving everything we could possibly need. The greatest gift! Bread for the journey.

Turn up the
dial!

Jesus said to the Jewish crowds: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

When I was young, it seemed everyone had a big old console stereo system. You may remember these, a really big and long wooden piece of furniture with built-in stereo speakers and all kinds of electronic equipment.

These systems had various doors and hinges that opened sections of the system. They typically had a built-in record player under a hinged top. The front doors would open to access the radio and volume controls. interestingly, these furnishings are making a comeback.

These systems were very elegant, and for me, a great temptation! (especially at home, but not only).

I would sit on the floor before this impressive set of electronics and dream of all sorts of adventures. I could control a spaceship, launch missiles and destroy the Russians, wherever the mind could take me, I could go.

The one thing my fiddling around always seemed to accomplish was the shock and surprise my parents and their guests would get when they turned the system on. Boom! the radio was turned all the way up, and people jumped. So would I when I heard my name called…

For these days, where we particularly reflect on the mystery of the Body and Blood of Jesus, we are called to do what I did with those stereo systems; turn up the volume.

This solemnity offers a unique opportunity to turn up the volume of our praise and worship, to acknowledge a love so great that its giver desired to stay with us forever. During this eight day period, we focus on celebrating and proclaiming more than a mere symbol or a nice memory – who would waste time doing that! We turn up the volume on the truth – the great giver of all love is with us here, now, and forever.

The great giver of love, Jesus Christ, is really present – body, blood, soul, and divinity in what appear to be simple bread and wine. He is in our hands. Sadly, only 40 to 91 percent of catholic churchgoers recognize Jesus. It should never be less than 100%. So, we need to turn up the volume. We need to sing out and proclaim His praises, revel in His presence. Let the world know.

Love isn’t something far off. Our great God allows us to eat His flesh and drink His blood and because of it we have eternal life. This simple fact must fill us, envelop us with such joy that we cannot help but turn up the dial on our praise. We need to live praise filled lives, overwhelmed by the fact that He is so close by, ready for a visit. Call the world to Him by loud thankful praise.

Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.

…and the greatest of these is love. Famous words we recall hearing at almost every wedding. I wonder if St. Paul, in writing to the Church at Corinth, was thinking of pretty words for marriage ceremonies? Likely not, marriage wasn’t even on his radar. Frankly, it wasn’t even on the Church’s radar at that time. Paul cared more about the way Christians interacted with each other and with the world that was awaiting the hope only Jesus could offer. Were Christians, therefore, living and showing the lives the saved and redeemed should be living? We have, in Paul’s words, a certain irony. Words we hear at a wedding – at the beginning of a new sacred vocation for a couple – are words that should inform our vocational lives as Christians. The message of Jesus and of the Christian faith is a call to vocation. We are called to participate full-time, with every breath, in God’s creative and redemptive work. The Christian life is to be vocational to the core. It is a complete and total way of living. As we celebrate and pray in this month of sacred vocations let us remember that each of us is called to the most sacred vocation of all – to love completely as Jesus loved us.

Join us beginning with the celebration of the Church’s birthday at Pentecost, through the post-Easter solemnities, and in enjoying some great fellowship. We will be having our Rummage and Bake Sale, our seniorate Corpus Christi celebration, and we will be gathering bras – that’s right, bras!

You may view and download a copy of our June 2017 Newsletter right here.

Fed by what is
simple.

Brothers and sisters, I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you…

A little girl asked her mother, “Why do you cut the ends off the meat before you cook it?” Her mother told her that she thought the meat absorbed the spices better if you did that. “Maybe check with grandpa, because he taught me to cook.” The little girl went to her grandfather and asked the same question. He told her that he believed the meat absorbed cooking juices better if you cut the ends off. “It keeps the meat tender.” He told her that to be really sure she should ask her great-grandmother because she taught him to cook.

The little girl, determined to know why, went ahead and called great-grandma and asked her the same question. Great-grandma told her very simply, “My cooking pot was too small.” Simple answers.

Some of us are newer to the communion table and others have been approaching for years. We seem to all have our reasons and understandings.

We could go into a long theological discussion on the Eucharistic moment, and our encounter with the Divine in communion. We could consider the Church as a single body fed by the Lord. Those are great lines of thought that should be pursued as time and prayer allow. But there is something much simpler.

We can liken God to the deepest lake or the highest mountain. Just by gazing and encountering Him, standing in His presence, we instinctively know and feel His majesty. God speaks to our hearts by His mere presence. We are here in His house, in His presence in a very special way, and we can simply know that we are with Him. That is beautiful, but there is more.

A theologian or philosopher would want to not only scale the mountain or dive into lake, they would want to explore its every nook and cranny. That is wonderful, but we don’t have to go that far. God provides an answer.

The wonderful thing about God is that He is not wiling to just be looked at. He wants a full-on encounter with us at the deepest level. While some of us might be uncomfortable climbing a mountain or diving into a lake to experience it full on, God does not wait for us to do so. He brings the refreshment of the lake, the depth of His love and care, and the majesty of His being and goodness right into our lives. He does not stand apart, separated from us. He is with us.

God answers our most basic need – to be fed, to be strengthened, to be made complete, and to fully experience Him. He comes to us in the Eucharistic moment – giving us His eternity – for which we proclaim our thanks and then He simply feeds our every need. He is simply and completely with us.

SacramentHoly-Communion

I believe in
—— ——

While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

The words at the very top of this reflection “I believe in —— ——” are the same as last Sunday.

These two weeks are about core-required beliefs for the Christian man, woman, and child. Last week it was about the identity of God, We believe in One God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This week it is about the bread and wine we offer as a community. What is that bread and wine when we consume it while kneeling at the altar rail?

Jesus assured us on many occasions that we would eat His flesh and drink His blood. This wasn’t something He came up with on the night of the Last Supper. This is His purposeful gift.

In His discourse with His disciples He said: This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

Jesus knew very well that many would not accept this. For Jews consuming blood is not Kosher at all nor is eating human flesh. We have confirmation of this because shortly thereafter many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with Him.

This dialog happened shortly after Jesus fed the multitude. They wanted to make Him their king because of His miracles. A day or so later He was almost alone.

So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

This is our test. Do we stay or go? Jesus’ way, His teachings, everything about Him including the faith we must have to proclaim these core beliefs about His identity and the gift He has given us are not easy. When we kneel, what are we kneeling to? What is this bread and wine? If we believe in Him and the reality of His gift, let us kneel and proclaim I believe! I receive You!

Reflection for the Sunday in the Octave of Corpus Christi 2014

Eucharistic-Adoration

I am not an
object!

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.

In any good relationship we see the other person for who they are – first and foremost a human being. We look beyond appearance, beyond the externals, beyond our personal desires and wants (what we can take from or get from that person) and recognize their value. We treat that person with respect and honor and want to be with them. We want to be with them because they offer their humanity and respect in return for the humanity and respect we offer.

As Christians we easily see the sin of turning others into objects. We also know the problems inherent in pursuing things as solutions to problems or as an end in themselves.

During the 8 days that began Thursday, June 19th we particularly honor and commemorate Jesus’ gift of His body and blood in the Eucharist. Our minds and hearts are called to adore Jesus in this precious gift. However, we must be very careful to keep the reality of Jesus before us.

When the Church was new, the Apostles and all those who knew Jesus, who lived and ministered alongside Him, who were taught by Him, recognized His reality.

In the centuries that followed Christians recognized the reality of Jesus in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. When they recalled Him saying: “Do this in remembrance of Me,” they actually heard: “Do this and be one with Me.” For them, the celebration of the Eucharist every Sunday was an active encounter with the reality of Jesus. These Christians were one with Jesus at every moment of His eternity, His earthly life, and His return in glory. They were with Jesus in the past, present, and future. All this was found in the Eucharist. They saw, felt, and lived the reality of Jesus and the promise He gave: Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. He was with and in them and they knew it. They realized that by participating in the Eucharist and receiving Holy Communion they were with Him and each other forever.

Later, and for many reasons, the people of the Church stopped seeing the Eucharist as an encounter with the reality of Jesus. Certainly the Church never lost faith in Jesus’s real presence in the signs of bread and wine, but the Eucharist became more an object, a memory limited three days in Jesus’ life. The Body and Blood were adored, but as an object. Our obligation is to take this Solemnity and every Sunday as a call to re-encounter the reality of Jesus who remains with us now and forever.

Reflection for Sunday in the Octave of Corpus Christi

TheCovenant-Image1

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

Imagine if we were to walk into our very last class, just before graduation, and the professor says: ‘Forget everything you have ever learned, forget everything you know, and be filled with grace.’

Today, and every Sunday (and in reality every day), we are asked to do that, to surrender our intellectualism, our self-assured knowledge, and enter into the mystery of faith. We are asked to turn ourselves over to the Holy Spirit and to allow ourselves to be filled with the grace God offers us so that we can do much good in His name.

Our friends and close compatriots in the Orthodox Church have beautiful liturgies that call to mind both the majesty and mystery of God presence among us. Their tradition, unlike western tradition, does not rely on over thinking the mystery of God, with attempts to analyze and explain every nuance of God’s presence in our lives, but rather to worship and live trusting in the gift of faith handed down through God’s Word and Church Tradition.

We are in the midst of the Octave of Corpus Christi, eight days set aside to reflect on the mystery of the Body and Blood of Jesus in our lives, this wondrous gift that provides the grace through which we become more and more into the image of Christ.

As we have studied over the past few months, the Holy Mass is the occasion in which we encounter the full reality of Jesus among us. That reality is fully present in the Eucharistic action of the priest and the Christian people. In the Eucharistic action of ‘remembrance’ we live fully present at the Last Supper, at the foot of the Cross, the resurrection and ascension, and finally in Christ’s coming again. We are there with Him, present to Him, He is with us, and we are filled with His grace and tremendous love.

Our reception of the Eucharist in Holy Communion continues the mystery of Jesus in our life as Christians. In Communion we are joined as one. I could be receiving Communion on the moon, you here in Schenectady, each receiving the fullness of Jesus, each joined together as one body in Him. We are not separate and apart, alone in our communion, but together as one.

In these special eight days, and every day, let us forget what we think we know and actively be filled with grace, the glorious mystery of what we become in His Body and Blood.

Lord, before this holy Sacrament, we bow low in humble prayer.

The-last-supper

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

Jesus, hidden in the Blessed Sacrament, have mercy on us.
Bread of Angels, have mercy on us.
Bread made flesh by the omnipotence of the Word, have mercy on us.
Bread of our souls, have mercy on us.
Food of the elect, have mercy on us.
Refreshment of holy souls, have mercy on us.
Most pure feast, have mercy on us.
Sacrament of piety, have mercy on us.
Sacrament of love, have mercy on us.
Source of all virtue, have mercy on us.
Fountain of grace, have mercy on us.
Mystery of faith, have mercy on us.
Mystery of love, have mercy on us.
Most high and most adorable Sacrament, have mercy on us.
Memorial of that most wonderful Divine love, have mercy on us.
Holy oblation, have mercy on us.
Lamb without spot, have mercy on us.
Fountain of Divine mercy, have mercy on us.
Viaticum of such that die in the Lord, have mercy on us.
Pledge of future glory, have mercy on us.

Be merciful to us, Spare us, O Lord,
Be merciful to us, Hear us, O Lord.

From an unworthy reception of Thy Body and Blood, Deliver us, O Lord.
From every occasion of sin, Deliver us, O Lord.
From being negligent of Thy grace, Deliver us, O Lord.
Through the mystery whereby Thou didst institute this Most Blessed Sacrament, Deliver us, O Lord.
Through Thy Passion and Death, Deliver us, O Lord.
Through Thy glorious Resurrection, Ascension, and descent of the Holy Ghost, Deliver us, O Lord.

We sinners beseech Thee, O God, Hear us, O Lord.
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to preserve and increase our faith, reverence, and devotion toward this admirable Sacrament, We beseech Thee, hear us, O Lord.
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to move us to a frequent reception of the Holy Eucharist, We beseech Thee, hear us, O Lord.
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to impart to us the precious fruits of this most holy Sacrament, We beseech Thee, hear us, O Lord.
That at the hour of death Thou wouldst strengthen us by this heavenly food, We beseech Thee, hear us, O Lord.
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to cll us to the feast of the Lamb, We beseech Thee, hear us, O Lord.
Son of God, We beseech Thee, hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Glory be…

Thou gavest us Bread from Heaven, O Lord.
Having in it the sweetness of every taste.

Let Us Pray

O God, Who in this wonderful Sacrament
hast left us a memorial of Thy Passion,
grant us, we beseach Thee,
so to venerate the Sacred Mysteries
of Thy Body and Blood,
that we may ever feel within ourselves
the fruit of Thy Redemption,
Who livest and reignest,
forever and ever.
Amen.