Being the Body of Christ

Feb 20, 2019

Dear Sisters & Brothers in Christ,

First, I would like to ask you to read the letter inserted into today’s bulletin. You may have heard that Pope Francis has called for a major meeting with religious leaders to discuss the issue of protecting minors, especially within The Church. Included are the General Superiors of Religious. This includes all the world leaders from all the major religious orders & congregations of men and women. It is they who wrote this letter echoing The Holy Father’s request for your prayers. We all know how serious this topic is, and how much better The Church needs to respond to it. While the meeting is wrapping up this morning, the work will continue and your continued prayers are needed. There are some extra copies on the usher’s table if you would like one for a friend.

Years ago I wrote on the topic of tabernacles. The practice of reserving The Eucharist did not arise for quite a while. While there is some evidence of scattered practices of reserving the Eucharist, it is not until the ninth century that it becomes a standard practice to reserve it in churches. This developed so that the sick, and especially the dying, could receive the Sacrament. The concept of praying before the Eucharist took even further to develop. This practice eventually developed into Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction.

This has become a very popular spiritual devotion for many Catholics throughout the world. It was a favorite of St. Alphonsus Liguori. One of his most famous books that is still being printed is “Visits to the Blessed Sacrament.” I have always found it very powerfully spiritually to pray before the Eucharist, especially when I have some serious matter to pray about. Recently Father Steve moved our Exposition of The Blessed Sacrament from the mornings of 1st Tuesdays to every Monday evening, so that more people would be able to participate. Hopefully, participation will grow once Lent begins and people look for ways to deepen their prayer life.

Not wanting to say anything disparaging about this practice, because as I said, I think it can be a very powerful way to pray. I do wonder sometimes what Jesus might think of the practice? After all, the whole purpose of offering us His Body & Blood is that we BECOME The Eucharist. We are called to become the Body of Christ, so that we can carry Christ into the world and make Christ present in the world. I think some Catholics today, even though they participate in Communion, think of The Eucharist only in terms of something that is locked away in a metal tabernacle. Once Jesus is safely locked away, they can leave and act however they want.

Many Catholics get all worked up when they see people talking in church or not genuflecting. They claim they are not being reverent to The Blessed Sacrament. While we should be conscious of how we act while in the presence of The Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle, shouldn’t we also be reverent when in the presence of one another? ...we who are called to BE The Body of Christ? I don’t think it is a matter of one or the other, but both of them. Not that I think we should go around genuflecting to one another, but imagine what our world would look like if we treated each other with the respect we give The Blessed Sacrament? And what if we treated ourselves the same way? What if we lived our lives more consciously of the fact that we carry The Eucharist with us when we leave church. ...if we took serious Jesus’ call for us to truly be The Body of Christ!

In the Redeemer,

Fr Rick