Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Reflections on Corpus Christi

It's already Tuesday, and I had intended to sit down to this on Sunday afternoon. Sometimes, though, we make plans--and God laughs.

Sunday was the Solemn Feast of Corpus Christi.

Mass on Sunday was extraordinary. It always is, really, but this Sunday was particularly stirring. Perhaps it was the beautiful introit sung by the choir. Maybe it was the Sequence chanted in Latin. It could have been the opportunity to hear an amazing homily, offered by someone other than those we hear regularly.

Because we are part of the parish of our diocesan Cathedral, our family routinely hears preaching from our dear Bishop, and also from the Monsignor who serves as Rector of the Cathedral. They are both fine homilists, to be sure, always teaching us the Truth in love. Neither pulls any punches with doctrine, and both take plenty of flack for it from the local media. Those who are members, though, those whose hearts are open to the Holy Spirit, who are grateful for the richness of our faith, are appreciative and humbled by the sacrifices our good priests make for us. Every time they are disparaged in the media--which is often--we increase our prayers for them.

There were several things which struck me greatly on Sunday. First was the bit in Monsignor's homily about the Vietnamese priest who, being held in prison, would offer Mass when supplied with "a morsel of bread and just a couple of drops of wine." My Lord brought to my heart the 23rd Psalm which we all know so well: "Thou has prepared a table for me in the presence of mine enemies...my cup overflows." This humble priest, through offering the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass, made a banquet from a morsel, and his cup overflowed with mere drops. How richly blessed are we, who see our priests leave the Communion line, retrieve the Ciborium from the Tabernacle, and continue to distribute the Body of our Lord to His faithful! How richly blessed are we, whose priests have two or three or four chalices to purify at the Altar, after we have each taken our sip from the Cup of Precious Blood!

Second was something which happened just after Consecration, at the final elevation of the Body and Blood of our Lord. As Monsignor held the Host above the Chalice, there shone a golden light on the Host. I'm sure it was a reflection from the Crucifix at the center of the Altar, but the effect was far more than a mere reflection. The light was in the shape of a flame, directly centered on the Host, and made it appear to burn. It was as though He was saying, "See my Sacred Heart, burning with my love for you!" I was so entranced by it I almost forgot to sing the Amen.....

The Mass continued with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and then a solemn Eucharistic procession--with candles, incense, and Jesus in the Eucharist being carried under the canopy. The people followed the ministers and servers, and they sang hymns the whole way. Upon returning to the Church, more hymns were sung, and the Benediction concluded the Mass. The joyful spirit of the faithful was abundant. The smiles on the sweaty faces of the children were contagious, and their parents were no less joyful.


After Mass, I spent some time talking with a wonderful woman who is well known in our parish and community for her work in advocating for the independence of disabled people. She just turned 80 years old, and this was her first time at Mass in quite a while, as she fell and broke her ankle a couple of months ago. She has cerebral palsy. She said to me, "Do you know that the most influential thing in a child's life is it's parents? And that when a child is born with a disability, the care they receive from their parents, above all, is what affects how they can cope as an adult?"

She and I talked about her experience in the nursing home. She is grateful for the care she receives there and for the fact that there is such a place available, but she really dislikes having to be somewhere other than home.

There is also a woman well known in our parish for her delight in visiting with those unable to attend Mass. She sits and prays with them, and spends time just visiting. And so it happened that the Lord brought the two women together, and one said to the other, "I've been looking for a new place." The other said, "They won't let me go home if I'm going to be alone at night." By happy providence, then, they will be together, one providing shelter, the other providing care.

I love how He works, providing for each of our needs in His way, meeting our circumstances with ample provision, generously watching out for our concerns. As I say to My Darling at times, "Sparrows and lilies."

1 comment:

Heather said...

The service sounds inspiring. I like your phrase of sparrows and lilies - I'll have to remember that.