Feast of Corpus Christi

06-03-2018Pastor's LetterRev. Gregory B. Wilson, VF

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Welcome to our summer seminarian, Rafael Ghattas! Rafa is entering 2nd year theology at St. Mary's Seminary in Houston, Texas. Rafa's home parish is St. Andrew's in Myrtle Beach. Be sure to give him a warm St. Mary's welcome when you see him!

"This is my Body… This is my Blood of the covenant" (Mark 14:22, 24). "My Flesh is true food, and my Blood is true drink." (John 6:54-55).

Jesus was unambiguous about Who we receive in Holy Communion. The Church both East and West has maintained that – in some wonderful, mysterious way – at the words of Christ through the ordained priest, simple bread and wine completely become the entire Christ – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity – in their substance (i.e., what they are), while the appearance remains the same. This is called the Real Presence of Christ and transubstantiation.

On the feast of Corpus Christi, I always like to give a reminder about the most loving and respectful manner in which we as Catholics are asked to receive Holy Communion. It is no less than the King of the universe that we are receiving into the temple of our bodies. Always keep in mind that this is no ordinary food. Catholics in a state of grace who have fasted for one hour (except for water and medication) come forward at the procession to receive Holy Communion. As one approaches the Holy Sacrament, a bow of the head is made out of reverence. The Sacred Host must be consumed in front of the minister.

Receiving the Sacred Host on our tongues is always acceptable. After the minister says, "The Body of Christ," respond, "Amen," and open your mouth with your tongue towards the front (but not actually "sticking your tongue out"). In the United States, we may alternatively receive in the hand, but in this manner: St. Cyril of Jerusalem (4th century) said, "Make your left hand a throne for your right, since your right hand is about to welcome a King. Cup your palm and receive in it Christ's Body, saying in response, 'Amen.' Then carefully . . . consume It, being careful not to drop a particle of It." (A left-handed person would reverse the hands.) Thus, two hands are required to exercise this option. If you cannot receive with both hands (child in arms, etc.), please receive on the tongue. Also, Communion is never "snatched" from the hand of the minister.

If choosing to receive the Precious Blood, respond, "Amen," to the minister and, taking the chalice, take a small sip and return it to the minister. Note that taking the Host to a chalice and "dipping" it in the Precious Blood is never permitted. People with allergies that make them unable to receive the Sacred Host (e.g., celiac disease) may opt to receive only the Precious Blood. In all cases, a person receives the fullness of Christ's grace, whether one receives the tiniest piece of the consecrated Host, or the smallest drop from the chalice. Therefore, our Church's longstanding tradition of simply receiving the Sacred Host remains always an option. One is never required to receive from the chalice – Christ is not separated.

Happy Corpus Christi! – Father Wilson