Today is the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ—also known as the Feast of Corpus Christi. Over my 40 years as a Roman Catholic priest, from parents of children preparing for sacraments, to members of RCIA classes, to people in formation and training to become Eucharistic Ministers, to couples preparing for marriage, to those headed toward ordination—ALL, at one time or another, have heard me make this claim, “The Most Holy Eucharist is the most perfect thing I know.” Simply put, this is why: it is because the celebration of the Holy Eucharist leads to Holy Communion. Furthermore, this is so important to bringing about Jesus’ kingdom and to carrying out His mission, all because he said—“Do this is memory of me.”
For me, the most striking application of “Eucharist as Perfection” is a couple getting married. Two people come together to offer the most basic and fundamental thing they have—their body and their blood—their human lives. Is this not what Jesus did in taking the Church as His bride? For Christians, marriage and family become a HOLY COMMUNION simply by the very fact that their lives are lived with the clear understanding that they are living out Jesus’ instruction, “Do this in memory of me.” Just as every Mass, every celebration of the Eucharist recalls Jesus’ life, passion, death, and resurrection, so will every life lived include elements of the same. This is why marriage vows include “I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness, and in health. I will love you and honor all the days of my life.” When all is said and done, are these not the same promises Jesus made to us by His living, His dying, and His rising again? No wonder His Heavenly Father declared, “This is my beloved Son on whom my favor rests.” In the twilight of married life and a family, this is the best that could be hoped for—that the Heavenly Father would declare with Divine joy, “This is a marriage and a family in whom I am well pleased—because they lived their lives, the best they could, in imitation and in memory of my Son.” And that is why, even though it was not always, “heaven on earth,” it was a Holy Communion.
Sometime ago, at the School Tuesday morning Mass, I told the children, “Now it’s up to you. Take your body and your blood back to your classrooms, out to recess, and back home to live in Holy Communion. Do it because Jesus did it for you. Do it out of love as Jesus did it because He loves you. Live today and every day in memory of Him. The reason you are going to ‘get along today’ or just ‘obey’ is because anything else would not be a Holy Communion.”
This is why the celebration of The Word and The Eucharist are so important to the life of a parish. It is how we connect all the rest of our lives to “Do this in memory of me.” We have no other choice but to get up in the morning with “our body and our blood”—our own lives. We might as well do it the way Jesus did it, because the way He did it is Eucharist, a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and it leads—best of all—to Holy Communion. And that is just PERFECT.
TURNING 70 – I’M STILL IN SHOCK!
I’m not in shock about the “7–0” so much as I am about the fact that nearly 250 people showed up to say “Happy Birthday,” and it was a surprise—a best ever kept secret. One of our parishioners rightly observed, “Doesn’t reflect well on your knowing what’s going on in the parish.” (For sure. For sure.) At turning 40, 50, and 60, I don’t remember such a strong inclination to “look back.” But Mary Lou Butler was right on target when she declared that over the many assignments and years, “Certainly Msgr. Richard would agree—the last 13 years have been the best.” Absolutely and without a doubt! To everyone:
THANK YOU! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! – Fr. R