mardi, avril 04, 2006

Do we desire the Eucharist?


Sermon for Passion Sunday


Saint Paul tells us: Christ, the High Priest entered once into the holy of holies and obtained eternal redemption by his own blood. In his blood, He set the seal on a new and eternal Covenant. Eternal means that this Covenant is not only in force in this present life, but will be forever in the eternity too. The temporal death of Jesus affects all of creation, and, in fact, gives birth to a new one. Heaven and Earth are now marked by this Sacrifice so profoundly that even the glorious body of Jesus, after his resurrection, retains the marks of the wounds of His Passion. The celestial Liturgy, in Heaven, as far as we know, will be the exalting of the Immolated Lamb in his glory. Our earthly Liturgy is an anticipation of this Liturgy. An anticipation is not yet the achievement.
We are invited to participate in the celestial banquet to celebrate the wedding of the Spouse. But now we are still on the way and we have to walk, following Jesus in his Passion and carrying our cross. The Liturgy, especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, makes us participate in an excellent manner in the Sacrifice of Jesus. And since the goal of our life is union with God through Our Lord Jesus Christ, mediator between God and men, the most excellent way to unite ourselves to God has to be found in Holy Communion.

The Council of Trent already expressed the desire of the Church to see the faithful receiving Communion at every Mass they attend. The text says: The sacred and holy Synod would fain indeed that, at each mass, the faithful who are present should communicate, not only in spiritual desire, but also by the sacramental participation of the Eucharist, that thereby a more abundant fruit might be derived to them from this most holy sacrifice.
Now, during the Lent season, when we are supposed to mortify our flesh according to the entire tradition of the Church, we can find in the Eucharist a very precious help. While we are making sacrifices and penances, we would be well advised to follow the recommendations of the Church regarding Holy Communion. The Roman Catechism points out the effects of the Eucharist. It says: It also restrains and represses the lusts of the flesh, for while it inflames the soul more ardently with the fire of charity, it of necessity extinguishes the ardor of concupiscence.
So, if it is good to fast during Lent, it may be profitable to receive Communion more frequently in order to find more strength for our Lenten exercises. Fast of terrestrial food for a more frequent reception of the celestial bread would be beneficial.
Christians who love Jesus feel the need to receive the Eucharist. But that presupposes a good preparation. On a practical level, frequent communion means frequent confession. In fact, one calls the other. The Church, as our Mother, wants to feed us with the spiritual food, which is the Eucharist, but on the other hand, She warns us that we must be well disposed to receive, and well aware of the dignity of this Sacrament. We shouldn’t approach the communion rail without a certain fear. But our fear shouldn’t divert us from receiving Our Lord. Confession, in particular, helps us in this way.
The sacrament of penance gives us the objective sanctity which allows us to receive Our Lord Jesus Christ under the veil of the Eucharistic species. A necessary condition for receiving Holy Communion is that one must be in the state of grace. Whoever feels unworthy to receive Jesus in his soul is right, but should also remember that Jesus, knowing that, has no other desire but to come into our souls to sanctify us. So we have to receive Our Lord with a great humility but also with a great confidence.
Then, it is true that this Sacrament, as every other Sacrament, is effective in itself by virtue of what we call in Latin ex opere operato. This means that the power of Our Lord Jesus Christ works through the Sacraments when the necessary conditions of validity are present. But a Sacrament is not magic. God wants us to collaborate with Him to our own sanctification, because He has created us rational beings. Sacraments are given to us to produce or increase the grace in our souls, and from Baptism to Extreme Unction, they are the divine instruments which give us life or keep us in life. The Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, which is the culmination and center of the Christian religion according to Pius XII, should be the center and the culmination of our lives too.
And if it really and truly is the center of our lives , it will change our lives. Through this sacrament God will strengthen us so that we can resist temptations more easily. A life centered on Jesus Christ is not compatible with a life of sin and if you fall regularly into mortal sins, it is because Our Lord Jesus Christ is not yet the center of your life. Your Faith is not enough enlivened by your Charity, and in fact, if you are in state of sin, you have no Charity in your soul at all because sin and Charity exclude each other. Ultimately and simply, our religion is just a matter of love. And we have now during the liturgical time of the Passion a great opportunity to contemplate the purest and most beautiful act of love ever performed: the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross.
Dear brethren, let us well understand that Charity leads us to the Cross. Where there is no cross, there is no Charity. And the mystery of the Cross is made present today by the Sacrifice of the Mass. I have already asked you this question and I ask you again now: Do you come to Mass just to fulfill a commandment of the Church or because you truly love God? I think there is a major difference.
If you come for the first reason, I have to recognize that it is not very exciting. I can also understand why you are so late for Mass on a regular basis. I can understand why you make no effort to say the responses of the Mass or to sing in spite of the recommendations of the Church. I can understand why you go to the communion rail casually, your hands in your pockets, looking so bored. I can understand why you leave the church right after Mass without giving thanks to God. I can understand why you are immodestly dressed, preferring to show your body to men rather than your soul to God. But in your case, I don’t think that the Sacrament of the Eucharist can be very useful.
If you come for the second reason, because you love God and because you understand that the Holy Mass is the time and the place where you can be united to your Savior who offered Himself in sacrifice for your salvation, in this case, your communions will be your provisions for your journey toward Heaven. You look for the help of the Sacrament every day because you are tempted every day and because your flesh is still weak. Or maybe, you just want to have Jesus in your soul, which is probably the best reason for desiring your daily communion.

May Our Lady of Sorrows who knows the price of our Redemption, rekindle our Faith in the Sacrament of the Altar, so that, animated by the Hope of the future glory, we can receive Communion frequently with a sincere Charity and united ourselves to the Sacrifice of Jesus for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. We are going now to Calvary, but it is not our final destination. It is the necessary step before Heaven. The Eucharist will give us the strength to pesevere.

1 commentaire:

Dropper a dit…

Father,

I just wanted to say thank you for such a great sermon. I have been thinking about it since I heard it this past Sunday. Thank God for good priests like you and Father Bouchard.

God bless you.