Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

Thank you all for your patience and graciousness regarding last week’s post. We had a lovely vacation and are now back at home in the thick of moving preparations. I haven’t edited this week’s video as I type this, but I hope it’s mostly coherent as I don’t have time to re-record it. This was the first time filming with all 6 kids home, so you can imagine how not alone I was (and if you can’t double check the feature image at the top of this post. That was not a staged photo).

This week the Church highlights the critical gift of the Eucharist. The Vatican II document Lumen gentium calls the Eucharist the source and summit of the Christian life (no.11). Based on today’s Gospel, it is not a stretch to say that Jesus intends this free gift of communion with His own self to be the source and summit of every moment of our life.

These are nice words, and nice words are all they will be if we don’t stop and think critically about how we are applying them to our life.

Source: a place, person, or thing from which something comes or can be obtained.

The Church teaches that the Eucharist is a source, and a source is a place where we obtain something. What do we obtain from the Eucharist? The YouCat (a fabulous resource!) states:

When we eat the broken Bread, we unite ourselves with the love of Jesus, who gave his body for us on the wood of the Cross; when we drink from the chalice, we unite ourselves with him who even poured out his blood out of love for us.

YouCat no. 208

We receive Jesus. We receive God. St John Vianney said:

God would have given us something greater if he had had something greater than himself.

It’s amazing. The Eucharist isn’t just a memory of a meal long ago, but the actual, real presence of Jesus Christ in the form of bread and wine.

The Eucharist is also the summit of the Christian life. The highest point of union with God is in that moment when we receive Him in the Eucharist. This mystery is core to our Catholic belief. The YouCat is full of amazing quotes, so I’ve got a few more for you.

“Not going to Communion is like someone dying of thirst beside a spring” – St. John Vianney

“In the Holy Eucharist we become one with God like food with the body” – St. Francis de Sales

“It was as though I heard a voice from on high: I am the food of the strong; eat then of me and grow. But you will not transform me into yourself like food for the body, but rather you will be transformed into me” – St. Augustine

And finally, the quote I will leave you with for this week to ponder as you prepare for Mass:

“Your life must be woven around the Eucharist. Direct your eyes to Him, who is the Light; bring your hearts very close to His Divine Heart; ask Him for the grace to know Him, for the charity to love Him, for the courage to serve Him. Seek Him longingly.” – St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Daily Graces.

Pentecost 2023

It would be an understatement to say human beings are unique. Being made in the image and likeness of God is no small thing. In fact, it’s everything!

In the book of Genesis, we hear the stories of creation. The writer talks of God’s breath as a mighty wind stirring up the waters. Then, light bursts into the scene where formless darkness was before. God speaks creation into being with the “Let there be…and there was” formula. This mighty wind, these spoken words, are images of the Holy Spirit at work.

It is not surprising then that when God made man, He breathed in him, filling the man with His life. We were made to hold God’s life within us (more on this in this week’s video). Then, after the Fall of Adam and Eve, we lost our connection. God still gave humans life, as He does all His creatures. But a light was dimmed, a door closed. We could no longer fully have access to that life-giving Spirit of God.

In our Gospel today, John tells us that Jesus breathed on the apostles and they received the Holy Spirit. The breath of the divine, the creative force that moves through the world, came to be at home once again in human beings. The very same Holy Spirit Jesus filled the apostles with is in each person who has received Baptism and Confirmation.

If you’ve been here for a while, you know I have a growing relationship with the Holy Spirit. It’s quite the ride, as I was sharing with my daughter. A few videos ago, I mentioned how I was feeling a tug to offer myself as a long term sub for one of the more challenging perpetual adoration slots – 1-2am. I sent that email with much trepidation, hoping to be politely declined. I’m sure you know where this is going. For the next month, I’m filling that spot.

This is a hugely busy time. As I type this, we just finished a marathon purge and cleaning overhaul of our house to prepare for sale pictures. Showings begin this weekend (your prayers for the swift sale of our home are greatly appreciated). We have to unpack what we stashed so that the actual packing for moving can happen. I have to remember where I put whose books, which closet the toothbrushes got to, answer repeated questions about the timing of it all, and not have McDonalds for dinner every night for the next few weeks. It’s overwhelming!

In the overwhelm, it’s so tempting to claim you don’t have time for God, for prayer, for quiet. And if you do take the time, then your brain is running in overdrive with lists of all the things you have to do once you’ve checked “God-time” off the list. Neither of these will fill you the grace you so desperately need.

I’ve only filled that 1-2am slot once so far, but let me tell you something. I was shocked at how little time I spent considering my lists, because I was focused on: 1. Staying awake, 2. How blissful my bed would be when I got home 3. The absolute delight complete stillness and quiet is.

I know this isn’t a hugely Godly list, but it was such a gentle reprieve for my overtaxed brain. I needed this. And I will continue to need this, weekly, during these next weeks. I hope that as it becomes more familiar, I will be able to turn my thoughts to somewhat loftier ones. For now, I am basking in the Holy Spirit’s goodness. He knows me better than I know myself and it was through following where He led that I found this oasis for my soul.

Daily Graces.

Feast of the Ascension – 2023

Depending on where you are in the world, there is the possibility that the feast of the Ascension will supersede the Seventh Sunday of Easter. The Ascension fell on May 18 this year and either your local diocese or conference of bishops will have decided which readings will be used for this Sunday. So, to cover all my bases, the reflection here is a reflection on the Feast of the Ascension. The YouTube video for the week considers the Gospel for the Seventh Sunday of Easter. No matter which place you went first, and even if you don’t make it to the other reflection, I hope that something here will be meaningful for your week.

It in interesting that we hear the story of the Ascension as told by St. Luke in the Acts of the Apostles for the First Reading, and then the Great Commission from St. Matthew for the Gospel. This is the final moment of Matthew’s Gospel, it is how he concludes the whole story.

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations

Matthew 28:19

I love reading different Bible translations. I find language fascinating and if I could have all the time in the world, I think I would have studied Biblical Greek and Hebrew so I could go back and read these texts in their original forms. One Bible translation I find particularly interesting (I’ve mentioned this before in other posts, but it’s been a while), is called The Message. It is originally a Protestant translation, but there is a version which includes the books the Catholic Church maintains as the original canon of Scripture. This translation was intended to be a more “modern” translation. The translator, a pastor named Eugene H. Peterson, explains it this way:

I became a ‘translator’…daily standing in on the border between two worlds, getting the language of the Bible that God uses to create and save us, heal and bless us, judge and rule over us, into the language of Today that we use to gossip and tell stories, give directions and do business, sing songs and talk to our children.

The Message, pg. 12

Peterson is good about being upfront that this Bible isn’t meant to replace other study Bibles or translations used for liturgical practices. This is a reading Bible, a “let’s get to know one another” Bible. I love how he chose to translate the passage I quoted above.

Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life

Matthew 28:19

It is the same thing, but I find the word “train” to hit a little differently. I also find the phrase, “in this way of life” impactful. In order to train someone, first we have to know what we are teaching. For a lot of us, this might make us suddenly uncomfortable. This even makes me uncomfortable to a certain extent. For a large part of the Church’s history, the laity were not part of the teaching apparatus of the Church. Clergy and religious, who were able to receive additional schooling, time for prayer, mentorship, etc., were the ones looked to for passing down the faith. As time has passed, the Holy Spirit has inspired the Church to encourage all the baptized to take Jesus’ Great Commission to heart. These words aren’t simply for clergy, they are for all disciples.

Each one of us is called to be a disciple. A disciple is someone who not only follows a master, but promotes and spreads those teachings which they have received. Jesus lays out for us very clearly what He expects of His disciples. And it’s not always easy, especially when you consider Peterson’s translation in The Message. We are asked to train everyone you meet. Everyone? Even people we don’t like? Even people we will only interact with once? Even people we converse with online?

This is the thing about the Great Commission of Jesus. To be a disciple doesn’t mean living according to the teachings of Jesus when it’s convenient, or on Sunday mornings. It is an all or nothing kind of thing.

But before you get scared away. Consider this. Jesus doesn’t ascend into heaven to get away from us. Pope Francis explains it better than I can in his homily for the Feast of the Ascension in 2014:

“Jesus departs, he ascends to Heaven, that is, he returns to the Father from whom he had been sent to the world. He finished his work, thus, he returns to the Father. But this does not mean a separation, for he remains forever with us, in a new way. By his ascension, the Risen Lord draws the gaze of the Apostles — and our gaze — to the heights of Heaven to show us that the end of our journey is the Father. He himself said that he would go to prepare a place for us in Heaven. Yet, Jesus remains present and active in the affairs of human history through the power and the gifts of his Spirit; he is beside each of us: even if we do not see him with our eyes, He is there! He accompanies us, he guides us, he takes us by the hand and he lifts us up when we fall down. The risen Jesus is close to persecuted and discriminated Christians; he is close to every man and woman who suffers. He is close to us all; he is here, too, with us in the square; the Lord is with us! Do you believe this? Then let’s say it together: the Lord is with us!”

How beautiful is this! We are called to be disciples, but we do not do it alone. Never alone. The tasks of discipleship are challenging. We can’t get around that. This feast forces us to take a good look at our lives. Are we living out the tasks Jesus has given us? How can we more fully realize Jesus’ desire for our lives? Where is Jesus calling you to go out and train everyone you meet?

Daily Graces.