Reflections from the Shrine ...
From The Desk Of The Director
Rev. John P. Sullivan, M.S.
June 22, 2019
This weekend we celebrate a beautiful feast which is truly at the heart of our Catholic faith: The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. It is more commonly known simply as “Corpus Christi” which in Latin means “The Body of Christ”.
As we all realize, the Body of Christ is the Eucharist. It is the nourishment we need for our faith journey in this world as we progress each day, hopefully, to be united with our Father in Heaven. The Eucharist is the precious gift of Jesus Himself, so that our lives, our actions, our words, reflect him more and more in our lives, personally and as a community.
As the priceless gift that it is, it is well named “The Eucharist” which in Greek means “Thanksgiving” . One of the highest forms of prayer is the prayer of thanksgiving. Jesus himself often prayed prayers of gratitude to his Heavenly Father. We see that often mentioned in the scriptures, especially at the Last Supper. For example in the second reading at Mass this weekend we read “the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you..’ Do this in remembrance of me.”
If Jesus gives us the gift of himself in the Eucharist, it seems one of the best ways to express our gratitude would be to make constant efforts to love others as Jesus has first loved you and I. That is the proof the sign of our true faith - the quality of our love for those around us. That includes certainly the people that are difficult to love, who perhaps even persecute us for simply being ourselves. That is where our credibility is found, not just in the depths of our faith but also our sincere love for one another. If we do not make an effort to practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy on a daily basis we can justifiably be accused of hypocrisy . We say that we love God but then do not love our brothers and sisters who truly are the people of God.
We have an excellent example from the life of Jesus Himself in today’s Gospel of the multiplication of the loaves and fish. After healing perhaps hundreds of people who needed to be cured, Jesus realized they were very hungry in a deserted place where there was no food. In addition to healing them, he also fed them all miraculously from a few loves and fish he had available to him. If only we can follow his example as we are fed on the Eucharist. We are commanded to love one another in a wholistic manner of mind, body, and spirit.
Fr. John P. Sullivan, M.S.
Food in a Deserted Place
(Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ: Genesis 14:18-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Luke 19:11-17)
La Salette is a remote spot in the lower French Alps. Whereas millions of pilgrims visit Lourdes each year, only some 250,000 come to this mountain Shrine, and then mostly in the spring and summer. Otherwise, it is quite a deserted place.
That was certainly the case on September 19, 1846. A handful of persons, including the two children, Maximin Giraud and Mélanie Calvat, were minding cattle or mowing hay. From where they had their simple meal of bread and cheese, Maximin and Mélanie could see no one else.
Then, suddenly, a Beautiful Lady was there!
She spoke, among other things, of other deserted places—the churches. During the French Revolution roughly 50 years earlier, France had become fiercely anti-Catholic. Times had changed since then, but the effects were still felt, and the nominally Catholic population retained a certain hostility toward religion.
Every now and then people leave the Catholic Church because of a conflict, or scandals, or rejection of Church teaching, etc. In so doing, they deprive themselves of the Eucharist. Today’s readings make it very clear how essential the Eucharist is to our Catholic Christian way of life. In both theory and practice, it is hard to imagine one without the other. Without the Eucharist, we find ourselves truly in a deserted place.
One of the longer Psalms describes a scene of persons wandering in a desert, hungry and thirsty. Finally they cry out to the Lord, who rescues them and leads them to a city. This portion of the Psalm concludes :
“Let them thank the Lord for his love,
for the wonders he does for men:
for he satisfies the thirsty soul;
he fills the hungry with good things.” (Ps. 107: 8-9)
Besides the readings, today’s Liturgy includes a Sequence, a poem written over 750 years ago by St. Thomas Aquinas when this Feast was first established. It echoes those same sentiments of gratitude for the goodness shown us in the gift of the Eucharist.
In the Mass, Christ blesses us and fills us with very good things indeed. Why should anyone prefer the deserted place?
Very Rev. Rene’ Butler, M.S.