Sunday, June 18, 2006

Adoro te devote ...



Happy Feast of Corpus Christi! (Being celebrated today in the US and India and several other parts of the world, I suspect.)

As always, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa provides much food for thought.
I believe that the most necessary thing to do on the feast of Corpus Christi is not to explain some aspect of the Eucharist, but to revive wonder and marvel before the mystery.

The feast was born in Belgium, in the early 13th century; Benedictine monasteries were the first to adopt it. Urban IV extended it to the whole Church in 1264; it seems that he was also influenced by the Eucharistic miracle of Bolsena, venerated today in Orvieto.

Why was it necessary to institute a new feast? Doesn't the Church recall the institution of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday? Doesn't she celebrate it every Sunday and, more than that, every day of the year?

In fact, Corpus Christi is the first feast whose object is not an event of the life of Christ, but a truth of faith: His real presence in the Eucharist. It responds to a need: to solemnly proclaim such faith.

It is needed to avoid the danger of getting used to such a presence and no longer pay attention to it, thus meriting the reproach that St. John the Baptist made to his contemporaries: "In your midst stands one whom you do not know!"
[snip] And here's some salutary words for (especially American) a people that has gotten so habituated, that receiving Communion is simply one of the things "one does" at Mass. Like standing or kneeling. Routine.
If the feast of Corpus Christi did not exist, it would have to be invented. If there is a danger that believers face at present in regard to the Eucharist, it is to trivialize it.

There was a time when it was not received so frequently, and fasting and confession had to precede it. Today virtually everyone approaches it. Let us understand one another. It is progress; it is normal that participation in Mass also implies Communion; that is why it exists. But all this entails a mortal risk.

St. Paul says: Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, will be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord. Let each one examine himself and then eat the bread and drink the cup, because he who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment unto himself.

I believe it is a salutary grace for a Christian to go through a period in which he fears to approach Communion, that he tremble before the thought of what is about to occur and not cease to repeat, as John the Baptist: "And you come to me?" (Matthew 3:14).

We cannot receive God except as "God," that is, respecting all his holiness and majesty. We cannot domesticate God!

The preaching of the Church should not fear -- now that communion has become something so habitual and "easy" -- to use every now and then the language of the letter to the Hebrews and to tell the faithful: "But you have come ... to a judge who is God of all ... and to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel" (Hebrews 12:22-24).

In the early times of the Church, at the moment of communion a cry resounded in the assembly: "Let him who is holy approach, let him who is not repent!"
Mike Aquilina has some great history and reflections as well. I especially like his concluding advice. Celebrate this Feast with lots of chocolate!

And of course, adore the hidden Godhead. Adoro Te Devote.

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