Awe & Wonder-Christ's Body & Blood

06-23-2019Pastor's LetterRev. Gregory B. Wilson, VF

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Three big solemnities happen to crop up all at once this week. Monday, June 24 is the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. There are only three birthdays our liturgical calendar celebrates: Jesus, Mary, and St. John the Baptist. St. John is the patron Saint of our diocese, so what a great day to come and pray for all the people of the Diocese. May we keep focused on the mission – spreading the Good News?

Friday the 28th, we have the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, which always falls the Friday after Corpus Christi. The next morning, June 29th, we celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, two “biggies” when it comes to saints. Also, our parish was founded on this day in 1853, so it is a marvelous celebration to remind us to keep focused on Jesus Christ.

Speaking of reminders, every year on this great feast of Corpus Christi, it is good for us to pause in awe and wonder at what Jesus does for us by feeding us with Himself in the Holy Mass. The Church both East and West has always 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 their appearance remains the same. This is called the Real Presence of Christ and transubstantiation. This happens even if a person doesn’t believe it since what one personally chooses to believe doesn’t affect reality.

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. This is no ordinary food.

As one approaches the Holy Sacrament, a bow of the head is made out of reverence. 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: Two hands are required, one over the other to make a throne. If you cannot receive with both hands (child in arms, etc.), the Church asks us to 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. Catholics never “dip” the Sacred Host in the Precious Blood themselves. 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 long-standing tradition of simply receiving the Sacred Host remains always an option. One is never required to receive from the chalice – Christ is never separated.

Happy Corpus Christi! – Father Wilson