The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
- Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
- Today in Catholic History
- Quote or Joke of the Day
- Today’s Gospel Reading
- Reflection on Today’s Gospel
- New Translation of the Mass
- A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day
- Franciscan Formation Reflection
- Reflection on part of the SFO Rule
Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:
This weekend, I will be away at my fourth “ACTS” retreat weekend. This is my third experience being “on team”: presenting the retreat to others. ACTS is an acronym meaning: Adoration, Community, Theology, & Service. With many retreat experiences under my belt, I honestly believe the ACTS Retreat movement is the most “Spirit Filled” encounter I have undergone. I offer to each of you a personal invitation, if one ever becomes available in your area. You can more information on the ACTS Retreat movement at the following website:
Today in Catholic History:
† 684 – St Benedict II begins his reign as Catholic Pope
† 1409 – Council of Pisa selects Petros Philargi as 3rd Pope: Alexander V
† 1870 – Christmas is declared a federal holiday in the United States
† 1936 – Birth of Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte, Archbishop of Montreal
† 1967 – Pope Paul VI names 27 new cardinals
† 1975 – Death of St. Josemaría Escrivá, Spanish Catholic priest (b. 1902)
(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
“Today in Catholic History”
Joke of the Day:
Today’s reflection is about Jesus saying, “I am the living bread.”
(NAB John 6:51-58) 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” 52 The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?” 53 Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
This Sunday we celebrate a second solemnity at this Second Sunday of Ordinary Time in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar. Today is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. (Last week’s was the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity.) This day was once called Corpus Christi (Latin for “Body of Christ”) in the Catholic Church. In the revised Lectionary the name of this solemnity, “Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ”, is expanded to more completely reflect our unique and true Eucharistic theology.
Today’s reading is taken from the Gospel according to John. The reading relates a discourse between Jesus and a crowd of Jews. Today’s discourse comes shortly after the miracle of Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves and fishes. In John’s Gospel, “miracles” are identified and mentioned as “signs” through which people come to believe that Jesus is truly the Son of God. These signs are always followed by a dialogue, or discourse, that interprets and explains the miracle (“sign”).
In John’s Gospel, Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves is said to have occurred near the time of Passover. Jesus chose the time of the Jewish Feast of Passover to fulfill what He had announced at Capernaum:
“So Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” So they said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.’” (John 6:32-35)
In doing this, John links it to the Exodus story and God’s saving action toward the Israelites. Even the representation of Jesus coming from heaven as a life giving bread is a manifestation and revelation of the “manna” stories of the Old Testament Exodus stories.
“He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your fathers, in order to show you that not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 8:3)
In the Old Covenant (Old Testament), bread and wine were offered in a Eucharistic (thanksgiving) sacrifice as a sign of grateful acknowledgment to God the Creator as being the true life giver and the true giver of life’s nourishment. Melchizedek, both a priest and king, offered a sacrifice of bread and wine, as Christ also will:
“Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine, and being a priest of God Most High, he blessed Abram with these words … “. (Genesis 14:18);
“Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High, met Abraham as he returned from his defeat of the kings and ‘blessed him.’ And Abraham apportioned to him ‘a tenth of everything.’ His name first means righteous king, and he was also ‘king of Salem,’ that is, king of peace. Without father, mother, or ancestry, without beginning of days or end of life, thus made to resemble the Son of God, he remains a priest forever. See how great he is to whom the patriarch ‘Abraham (indeed) gave a tenth’ of his spoils.” (Hebrews 7:1-4).
Melchizedek’s offering foreshadowed the offering made by Jesus Christ, our high priest and king in the “new” covenant of God’s everlasting kingdom.
“It was fitting that we should have such a high priest: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, higher than the heavens. But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that have come to be, passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is, not belonging to this creation. But this one offered one sacrifice for sins, and took his seat forever at the right hand of God.” (Hebrews 7:26; 9:11; 10:12).
Having seen Jesus multiply the loaves and fishes, the crowd pursued him, perhaps to seek more food, but I believe also to look for other signs (miracles). Jesus told the crowd that “He is the bread of life”. He explains that just as God gave the Israelites manna to sustain them in the desert, so now God has sent “new manna” giving eternal life. It is in this context that Jesus repeats those same words and tells all again (both then and now) that He is TRULY the living bread that came down from heaven.
At the last supper when Jesus blessed the cup of wine, he gave it to his disciples saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”:
“This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28).
Jesus, in blessing the cup of wine at the “last supper” was pointing to the sacrifice He was about to make on the cross, shedding His blood for us, pouring Himself out and giving Himself to us as a sacrificial atonement for our sins, and the sins of the world. Jesus made Himself an offering and sacrifice; a gift that was (and is) truly pleasing to God the Father. He “offered himself without blemish to God”
“How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.” (Hebrews 9:14).
After witnessing the life and miracles of Jesus Christ, why did many Jewish followers get so upset? Some even asked:
“How can this man give us (His) flesh to eat?” (John 6:52)
Many left disappointed in Jesus’ words about eating flesh and drinking blood. Probably because both are prohibited by Jewish law.
“Many of His disciples who were listening said, ‘This saying is hard; who can accept it?’ As a result of this, many (of) His disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied Him.” (John 6:60, 66)
These individuals choose to return to their old lives, instead of “the Jewish sin” of consuming the body and blood of Jesus Christ. They took the words on an absolutely literal basis! These poor souls believed they had to actually eat the skin of Jesus. They envisioned acts of cannibalism.
This literal concept of “cannibalism” is revolting, even to me. But yet, we are eating the actual body and blood of our divine Jesus Christ at every Mass in the Catholic Church. I am not being hypocritical in any way. To non-Catholics (and even some Catholics), this concept of “transubstantiation” is hard to understand. The bread (host) and wine does not change physically, or even molecularly; yet both change “substantially” into the body and blood of our Savior Jesus Christ. Non-believers (including most Protestants) don’t understand or believe in this concept of “transubstantiation.” How wrong they were (and are). I will hope to offer proof in this reflection.
Jesus said to His disciples:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” (John 6:53)
Another Amen, amen – – “YO, LISTEN TO ME” – – moment for the people He is talking to and teaching. He goes on to say:
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” (John 6:54)
Notice that Jesus did not say “eat a representation or simulation of my body.” He also did not say “reminder of my body… ”. Jesus said in no uncertain terms:
“… EATS my flesh and DRINKS my blood …” (John 6:54)
Jesus goes on to declare that only through Him, can one obtain salvation. Only through Jesus Christ can we obtain the grace to overcome our sins and iniquities. Only through Jesus can we obtain the grace of eternal life in paradise with the Holy Family, the angels, the Saints, and the entire celestial court.
To “munch” and “gnaw.”
John may have purposely used this verb in order to emphasize the true reality of the flesh and blood of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist (Body and Blood). However, this same verb eventually did evolve to become the ordinary verb in Greek to mean “eat.”
I believe John’s reference to the word “eat” is for the “Bread” of the Eucharist used in the celebration of the Mass. Further proof is in verse 56:
“For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink..” (John 6:55)
Did you notice that the word “eats” is plural? Hmm, one may eat the “flesh” of Jesus multiple times!! I love that as a Catholic Christian, I can do as Jesus Christ specifically wanted His follows to do: to come to Him daily. In participating in the Holy Eucharistic celebration, I bring Him in me AND me in Him.
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” (John 6:56)
“United by their vocation as ‘brothers and sisters of penance’ and motivated by the dynamic power of the gospel, let them conform their thoughts and deeds to those of Christ by means of that radical interior change which the gospel calls ‘conversion.’ Human frailty makes it necessary that this conversion be carried out daily.” (Rule #7 of the Secu;lar Franciscan Order)
Saying “the living Father” (verse 57), Jesus is referring to the “living bread” of the Holy Eucharist. The little pad or morsel of dead flour becomes, – – through the grace and action of the Holy Spirit, – – the living body of Jesus Christ sent to give life to all who believe in and consumes (“eats”) it.
In a way, it is the true bread that came down from heaven in the form of Jesus Christ, and unlike our ancestors who ate the bread of life, “manna,” (cf., Exodus 16:12-36) in the desert, and still died. Whoever eats Jesus’ “bread” will live forever.
“This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:58)
Jesus’ words were not well understood by the crowd; they argued that He was not from heaven but only born of human parents: Mary and Joseph (and not from God’s). The crowd also had trouble understanding how Jesus could give them His flesh to “eat”. He tells them that when they eat His flesh and drink His blood, they will remain forever connected to Him in a very intimate and personal way.
This is the “mystery” at the center of our unique and true Eucharistic theology. In the elements of bread and wine, Jesus’ Body and Blood are truly present. When we share in the Body and Blood of Christ, Jesus Himself comes to dwell within us and us in Him. This “communion”, this personal and intimate contact with the Lord Jesus Christ makes us one body, brings us eternal life, and sends us forth to be Christ’s Body in the world.
Our faith teaches us that when we gather to celebrate Mass, Jesus is present to us. The bread and wine truly becomes the Body and Blood of Christ. This is what we mean by the word “transubstantiation”. Jesus truly makes himself present to all who receive the Body and Blood of Christ.
Do you have memories of your First Holy Communion? Reflect on what Jesus meant when He called Himself the “living bread”. Recall that every time we receive the Holy Eucharist, Jesus, Himself, keeps the promise He made in today’s Gospel:
“Whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:58)
Jesus’ passing over to His Father by His death, resurrection, and ascension – the new Passover – is anticipated in the Last Supper and still celebrated in the Holy Eucharist, thus fulfilling the Jewish Passover and anticipating a final Passover of the Catholic Church in the glory of God’s eternal kingdom. When the Lord Jesus commanded His disciples to eat His flesh and drink His blood, He also invited us to take His life into the very center of our being. The “life” He offers is the very life of God Himself. I think I am hungry for some bread; How ‘bout you?
“Jesus, I believe”
“Jesus, I believe in the true body and blood of our Holy Eucharist. You gave up your life for us, and continue to give us life through the Holy Eucharist, and the actions of the Holy Spirit. I love you forever. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
New Translation of the Mass
In November of 2011, with the start of the new Liturgical year and Advent, there will be a few noticeable changes in the Mass. It will still be the same ritual for celebrating the Eucharist. The Mass will still have the same parts, the same patterns, and the same flow as it has had for the past several decades. It is only the translation of the Latin that is changing.
The new translation seeks to correspond much more closely to the exact words and sentence structure of the Latin text. At times, this results in a good and faithful rendering of the original meaning. At other times it produces a rather awkward text in English which is difficult to proclaim and difficult to understand. Most of those problems affect the texts which priests will proclaim rather than the texts that belong to the congregation as a whole. It is to the congregation’s texts that I will address with each blog, in a repetitive basis until the start of Advent.
In the words of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, #11, the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of Christian life. Anything we can do to understand our liturgy more deeply will draw us closer to God.
A second option for the “penitential rite” (the “Confiteor” being the first option) has been revised. This second form had been little used in recent years. The second option is presently:
Lord, we have sinned against you:|
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, show us your mercy and love.
And grant us your salvation.
May almighty God have mercy on us,
forgive us our sins,
and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
It will now read as follows:
The priest says, “Have mercy on us, O Lord.”
The people respond, “For we have sinned against you.”
Then the priest says, “Show us, O Lord, your mercy,”
and the people respond, “And grant us your salvation.”
Material from “Changing How We Pray”, by Rev. Lawrence E. Mick
A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day: St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer (1902-1975)
An estimated 300,000 people filled St. Peter’s Square on October 6, 2002, for the canonization of Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, the founder of Opus Dei. His canonization came only 27 years after his death, one of the shortest waiting periods in Church history.
Opus Dei, which means Work of God, emphasizes that men and women can become holy by performing their daily duties with a Christian spirit. In his homily, Pope John Paul II emphasized the importance of every believer following God’s will, as had the newly sainted founder of Opus Dei. “The Lord has a plan for each one of us. Saints cannot even conceive of themselves outside of God’s plan: They live only to fulfill it.”
Born in Barbastro, Spain, Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer sensed early in life that he had a vocation to the priesthood. Following his ordination in 1925, he briefly ministered in a rural parish. He moved to Madrid, where he obtained a doctorate in law. At the same time Father Escriva was beginning to envision a movement that would offer ordinary people help in seeking holiness through their everyday activities. It was officially founded in 1928.
As Opus Dei grew, Father Escriva continued his studies and his priestly work among the poor and sick. During the Civil War in Spain he had to exercise his ministry secretly and move from place to place. Only after the war did he return to Madrid and complete his doctoral studies. He later moved to Rome and obtained a doctorate in theology. Pope Pius XII named him an honorary prelate and a consultor to two Vatican congregations. All the while, Opus Dei grew in size and influence.
When Msgr. Escriva died in 1975, Opus Dei could be found in dozens of places around the globe. Today its membership includes approximately 83,000 laypersons and 1,800 priests in 60 countries. It is a “personal prelature,” a special jurisdictional entity within the Church.
Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.;
revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From http://www.americancatholic.org website)
Franciscan Formation Reflection:
Creation & Ecology
What is the result when some individuals accumulate large amounts of wealth created from this world’s resources at our disposal, when at the same time there are other humans suffering a lack of the basic needs means to live humanely?
What balance is required in order to be Franciscan in regards to ecology issues?
Are all creatures of equal value — the inanimate, the plants, animals, human? How does the Church prioritize them?
In SFO Rule #18, what is meant by “the Franciscan concept of universal kinship”?
What means do I use to show reverence for all creation?
What is the moral error in the economic principle that indicates the price of an item should be set by “what the market will bear”? (cf., CCC p.2424)
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO)
Rule #’s 25 & 26 of 26:
25. Regarding expenses necessary for the life of the fraternity and the needs of worship, of the apostolate, and of charity, all the brothers and sisters should offer a contribution according to their means. Local fraternities should contribute toward the expenses of the higher fraternity councils.
26. As a concrete sign of communion and co- responsibility, the councils on various levels, in keeping with the constitutions, shall ask for suitable and well prepared religious for spiritual assistance. They should make this request to the superiors of the four religious Franciscan families, to whom the Secular Fraternity has been united for centuries.
To promote fidelity to the charism as well as observance of the rule and to receive greater support in the life of the fraternity, the minister or president, with the consent of the council, should take care to ask for a regular pastoral visit by the competent religious superiors as well as for a fraternal visit from those of the higher fraternities, according to the norm of the constitutions.