One benefit of writing this weekly bulletin message is that my thoughts / message can potentially reach more people each Sunday. I am physically unable to preach at every Mass in our parish each weekend, but all of you, my parishioners, can read what I have to say weekly here in the church bulletin. Moreover, since I post this same message online () others who are not in the parish (or may be away) can have this same opportunity via the internet.
Corpus Christi (The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ) is a time for us to reflect on the precious gift that we have in the Most Holy Eucharist. While this solemnity is celebrated universally on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, the Church in the United States celebrates Corpus Christi on the Sunday following Trinity Sunday.
I have had the opportunity during my life to see both Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI when they were in the USA—Philadelphia, Miami, Denver, East Rutherford (New Jersey) and Washington, DC—in addition to meeting Pope St. John Paul II in Rome. There was always a great deal of preparation before meeting a pope. I remember various details like being thoroughly scrutinized by the US Secret Service, patiently waiting in a secure area for hours before the Pope’s arrival, making sure I was wearing a nice vestment and looking my very best, etc. There was plenty of preparation to meet the Vicar of Christ. Yet, don’t we have someone much more important than the pope present on our altars at every Mass—Jesus Christ himself. How do we prepare for Him?
I suggest that we think about a few things as we prepare to meet Christ at each Mass:
· Do I take seriously the hour fast from food and drink prior to receiving Holy Communion? (This fast would also include items like gum and breath mints.)
· Am I sure that I am in not in the state of serious sin before receiving Holy Communion? If I am, I should refrain from receiving Holy Communion until I first make a sacramental Confession.
· When I receive—whether it is on the tongue or in the hand--do I do so with the proper reverence and respect that I should show to the Son of God? Am I dressed in a manner befitting a meeting with the Son of God? (Would you actually dress this way if you were to meet the Pope, a Bishop or some other dignitary?)
· Do I make a proper thanksgiving after receiving Holy Communion? The religious sisters taught me at the time of my First Holy Communion to tell Jesus that I love Him, to thank Him for everything that He does for me, to petition Him for what I need in my life and to tell Him that I am truly sorry for all of my sins. I think that these components of a proper thanksgiving are still relevant today. There is nothing more frustrating to me as a priest than those who continually leave Church directly after receiving Jesus in Holy Communion without making a proper thanksgiving.
· If I am unable to receive Jesus in Holy Communion because of some circumstance of my life, do I make a Spiritual Communion instead? Request that Jesus come to you spiritually in your heart since you cannot now receive Him in Holy Communion.
While the suggestions listed here are far from complete, if we believe and realize that we truly have Jesus, the Son of God present on our altars and in our tabernacles, then I think that the way we pray, worship and receive Holy Communion should reflect this core belief.
Fr. Ed Namiotka