O Sacrament Most Holy! O Sacrament Divine!
On this great Solemnity of Corpus Christi, we are called to express our faith in the truth that the Holy Eucharist, Holy Communion, is in fact a reception of the very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of JESUS Christ, whole and entire, in His glorified state. We do not receive a symbol. At the Last Supper, Our Lord took bread ‘and when He had given thanks He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My Body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” And likewise the cup after supper, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My Blood” (Luke 22:19-20).
Then in today’s Gospel He says, “I am the living bread which has come down from Heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh for the life of the world” (John 6:51). So Our Lord is making it absolutely clear that we cannot take His words here metaphorically. He meant what He said. The Jews were really shocked by His words, but He became even more adamant and kept on repeating this teaching, and as a result many stopped following Him that day. Most non-Catholic Christians believe that the Eucharist is just a symbol. But we as Catholics believe in the Real Presence of JESUS, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist because that is what He said. The Church has taught this from the very beginning and it is in the Scriptures and the writings of the early Fathers of the Church. Orthodox Christians also believe this. The word the Church uses to describe this miracle is TRANSUBSTANTIATION, where the substance of the bread and wine cease to exist and it is changed into the living JESUS, true God and true man. He is present in the fullness of His divinity and in the fullness of His humanity in the Sacred Host and in the Precious Blood. Only the outward appearances of bread and wine remain and only a validly ordained priest can bring about this change at Mass when he pronounces the words of Consecration.
We are going through a great trial at the moment where we have been deprived of attending Mass and being able to receive Holy Communion. Hopefully this will have taught us, perhaps painfully, how much to appreciate the Mass and never to take it for granted again. We should really be looking forward to receiving JESUS again. A good Confession before will prepare you well. Also, if we believe that JESUS is truly present in the Holy Eucharist, it is only logical to conclude that we must worship Him there. And we must worship Him in the Holy Eucharist with the worship that is due to God alone (latria). So very soon now when we are able to come back into church for private prayer, let us really show our faith by genuflecting (or bowing if we can’t), kneeling and showing a real awareness of Christ’s Presence as we pray before Him in St Mary’s. The Holy Eucharist is the prime Sacrament, the one from which all the others come and the one to which all the others point. Hopefully once this crisis is over we will be able to have a splendid Procession of the Blessed Sacrament in thanksgiving and give Our Lord all the glory and honour which is His due. “O Sacrament most holy! O Sacrament divine! All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine!”
Fr Paul Gillham, IC