June 25, 2011 – It’s The Eucharist, Stupid!

Well I’ve been beating my head against the wall the last couple of days thinking about what I could write about (no harm done personally, but the poor wall is in really sad shape).  So for guidance I turned to our liturgical calendar and was reminded that this weekend we celebrate the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, or what us “more mature” folks remember as the feast of Corpus Christi.  In my very limited research, I found that the feast’s existence can be credited to the Blessed Juliana of Liege, who began devotion to the Blessed Sacrament around the year 1230.  Largely because of her influence, in 1264 Pope Urban IV commanded that the feast be observed world wide.  This feast reminds us of 3 important principles of our faith: 1) That God became physically present to us in the person of Jesus Christ, who is true God and true man, 2) God continues to be present with those of us who are the church, and 3) the presence of God in the form of bread and wine is made available to us on the altar at Mass and preserved there for our worship and fulfillment.

The workshop I attended last week on the revisions to the Roman Missal talked a lot about change – changes in wording to many parts of the Mass, changes in points of emphasis, changes to the musical settings, etc.  I think it is safe to say that many of us are not big fans of change – there is always some sort of loss that comes with change and sacrifices that have to be made.  But as I said last week, the structure of the Mass itself is not changing.  There will still be two main parts of the Mass – the Liturgy of the Word in which we proclaim those readings from Scripture which help to shape our faith, and of course the Liturgy of the Eucharist in which we obey the Lord’s command to remember Him through the blessing and sharing of His Body and Blood in the form of bread and wine.  For us Catholics, no matter where we attend church, no matter what form of the Mass is used, the Eucharist is the constant.  It’s the basis of our faith.  It’s what we desire during good times and bad times.  I’m reminded of the 1992 Presidential campaign as Bill Clinton’s campaign aide James Carville, when asked about the focus of their campaign, made the now famous reply “It’s the economy, stupid!”.  When I think about what the focus of my faith should be, when I have those periodic doubts about my faith and whether the Lord is really present with us, I just need to remind myself “Its the Eucharist, stupid!”, and everything else falls into place.

It’s easy not to think about or take for granted the role that the Eucharist plays in our lives.  When we as Catholics celebrate the reception of other sacraments – baptism, confirmation, marriage, holy orders, even anointing of the sick, we can celebrate them as part of the Mass.  When we are sick or hurting, we desire to be brought Holy Communion.  A couple of years ago when I was ill and was unable to attend Mass regularly, it was the reception of the Eucharist that I missed the most … it is what I hungered for.  I think I have mentioned before that a priest during a meeting I attended some years back wondered aloud if the Eucharist should be offered at every Mass or even on every Sunday – that perhaps people would hunger for it more if it were not offered as often.  At the time I thought the idea sounded intriguing, but the more I have thought about it over the years, the more I have come to reject the idea.  There would be a feeling of emptiness if there were no offering of the Eucharist at Sunday Mass.  It would be ignoring the invitation of Jesus to come to the table.  It helps us to recall what makes us Christians in the first place – an acknowledgement that Jesus lived among us, suffered and died for our salvation, and rose again to new life.

The Eucharist is a communal celebration which binds us together as Catholics.  However, as we know there are many issues, particularly social issues which can divide us as Catholics and Christians.  One of those is the issue of marriage.  The state of New York legislature last night narrowly passed a measure making the state the 6th in the nation to legalize “same-sex” marriages.  The Catholic Church is of course vehemently opposed to this, but despite the efforts and statements of its leaders, the measure still passed.  In its efforts to ban this legislation, many have accused the Catholic Church of disrespecting homosexuals and believing that they should not have the same basic rights of other human beings, which is simply not true.  The efforts of the church are not to deny rights to homosexuals, but to protect the definition of marriage that has existed since the beginning of time – the union of one man and one woman in a loving relationship with the desire to accept children.  The church is just as strongly opposed to polygamy because again, it is an attempt to re-define marriage into something that it is not.

The church is not in favor of denying basic rights to people of any orientation: everyone deserves their rightful visitation rights, death and insurance benefits, etc.  But marriage should not be used simply as a way to draw benefits – it should be a true union of one man and one woman in a loving relationship, just as God intended.

Well it’s going to be a tense few weeks for Cardinal fans as we try to deal with the loss of Albert Pujols, as well as other key players to injury.  Our saving grace so far is that the other teams in our division have not been playing well either. Hopefully we can keep our heads above water, and that my prayer vigil for Albert’s wrist will pay off.

Keep also in your prayers our farmers for favorable weather to harvest their wheat crop and finish other tasks.  Have a great week.  Peace.

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