In January 2010, I was working for an emergency response organization when the devastating earthquake hit Haiti. During the critical days and weeks that followed, mass distributions of plastic tarps, blankets, pick axes, medicine, food and clean water were organized and scaled up. However, I was struck when humanitarian aid workers relayed that there were constant requests for priests to visit the devastated communities in Port-au-Prince. In their bleakest hour, the residents’ unwavering faith and belief in Jesus Christ was evident. They regarded the Eucharist with reverence and awe and were filled with overwhelming gratitude as they received Holy Communion. They knew God would be with them and carry them through their trials and suffering.
This weekend, we celebrate the Solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ-often known by its Latin name, Corpus Christi. This is a joyous day! For God shows his love for us through Jesus. As Catholics, we believe that Jesus is present-Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity-in the Most Holy Eucharist.
The sole focal point of what we celebrate today is the Eucharist. We must always keep the Eucharist at the center of our lives and at the center of our faith. We pay the greatest reverence to the Eucharist because we understand the power and reality of His presence in the Blessed Sacrament. For it is in this bread that we have been given Christ. This is not an idea, not a symbol, not an abstract theological phrase-it is a wider, more profound mystery.
When we look at the consecrated host-we look at Christ.
The Second Vatican Council states that the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.”
Everything we are, everything we believe, everything we celebrate around our altar comes down to that incredible truth-that what began on Holy Thursday, more than 2,000 years ago, in an upper room, continues here, at Saint Anne Catholic Community, and at all altars around the world. The very source of our salvation is transformed into something that we can reverently hold in the palm of our hands.
When we attend Mass, we take part in a miracle. We bless ourselves with holy water, genuflect, recite prayers, sing hymns, listen to God’s word and
participate in the liturgy. Taken together, we revive a spirit of reverence and awe for the most Blessed Sacrament, and we don’t take it for granted. When we receive the Holy Eucharist, we say “Amen!” We believe that Jesus is truly present. God dwells within us as we become living tabernacles. This is the insight we take away from every Mass as we leave and return to our daily lives. God’s mercy and grace flows toward each one of us.
One of my favorite phrases in the Mass is found at the end of the liturgy when the presider proclaims “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” This is a powerful command. On this feast day, I would like to express my sincerest appreciation and shine a spotlight on more than 75 parishioners who are Ministers of Care. It is through their dedication and faith that the sick and dying of our parish are ministered to on a daily basis at ten sites within Barrington. They are the hands and feet of Jesus in our community. Many of these devoted parishioners have quietly served for years, bringing the body of Christ to those most in need. They are beacons of light!
Let us all take a few minutes in quiet prayer to consider what we may say to Christ, ask of Him, offer to Him, this weekend, as we receive his Body and Blood.
What will we do, knowing that we have been transformed by bread that has been transformed? How can we transform the world? We carry something greater than ourselves out into our world.
May the Eucharist be a source of comfort and light for all of us.
Mary Ellen Johnston-Director, Care Ministries