mercredi, mai 28, 2008

Sermon for Corpus Christi

He that eateth this bread shall live for ever. John 6:59

The question of what lies after death is one of the most crucial for man and has been answered in so many ways by the religions, philosophies, and beliefs of all times and cultures. Now, this extreme matter is of real and objective truth and you had better know before the time of your death. This truth has been revealed by the Author of Life who presented Himself as the Truth and the Life. Jesus says clearly: I am the bread of life!(John 6:48) He is the key that opens the doors of eternal life and the food that feeds the pilgrims on the way toward it.
The words said by the Lord in chapter 6 of the Gospel of Saint John are strong. They are so strong that many Christians do not accept them. They scandalize our reason and unsettle our mode of thinking. How can this be possible? This saying is hard and who can hear it?(John 6:61) It is so hard that Jesus lost many of his disciples after he pronounced it. Likewise, our reason is challenged and Jesus asks us: Will you also go away?(John 6:68) Will you go away from the truth that I tell you? Will you go away from the life that I give you? We might be tempted to do so. There is only one proper answer; the one that was given by Saint Peter: Lord, to whom shall we go? (John 6:69)

We must go to Our Lord Jesus Christ in order to have eternal life. Faith is the first response to the message of the revelation. It is given by Baptism. We know that the Sacrament of Baptism is necessary for salvation; but what about the Sacrament of the Eucharist? According to Our Lord Himself, it is necessary to eat His flesh in order to have eternal life, but on the other hand one has to discern the Body when receiving Holy Communion according to Saint Paul. It is for this reason that children must have the use of their reason in order to make their first communion. But we know that baptized children who die before they have the use of reason go to heaven.
Saint Thomas Aquinas helps us to understand this matter. He says that we have to consider two things in the Sacrament of the Eucharist: namely, the sacrament itself, and what is contained in it. Then he explains that the reality of the sacrament is the unity of the mystical body, without which there can be no salvation; for there is no entering into salvation outside the Church. Then he adds: before receiving a sacrament, the reality of the sacrament can be had through the very desire of receiving the sacrament. Accordingly, before actual reception of this sacrament, a man can obtain salvation through the desire of receiving it, just as he can before Baptism through the desire of Baptism. Yet, he explains that there is a difference between Baptism and the Eucharist. Baptism is the beginning of spiritual life, while the Eucharist is its consummation. In fact, all the six other sacraments are ordained for the Eucharist. At this point, we can grasp the dramatic error of all the Christian denominations that deny the reality of the Eucharist as the true body of Jesus-Christ. They deprive themselves of the most important thing of our Religion.
But let us continue with Saint Thomas. The Eucharist is requisite for the consummation of spiritual life and Saint Thomas says that the baptized children are destined by the Church to the Eucharist; and just as they believe through the Church's faith, so they desire the Eucharist through the Church's intention, and, as a result, receive its reality.
We can see here the role of the mystical body regarding the physical body of Christ. Baptized children have the desire of the Eucharist through the Church’s intention and consequently they receive its reality. It is possible because they have been disposed by the Sacrament of Baptism.
Now, for those who have the use of reason, the actual reception of the Eucharist is necessary and it is for this reason that the Church makes an obligation to receive it at least once a year. She makes an obligation to receive it once a year, but she also encourages us to receive it more often, daily if possible. We can be grateful to the Pope of the Eucharist, Saint Pius X, for his precious teaching on this matter. Daily communion is our daily bread which gives us the strength to move forward in our pilgrimage to heaven. It is the way to prevent the fall into mortal sin by increasing in us the life of God. It is already the anticipation of the eternal life that we will have forever if we remain faithful to God. Attending Mass every day is certainly a very good thing, but what a pity if we do not make the most of it by receiving Our Lord! Influenced by the Jansenist error, many of the faithful refrained from receiving the Eucharist often. They thought that it was rather a kind of reward for the more perfect, while it is in fact a way toward perfection.

Certainly, we must be in a good disposition when we receive Our Lord and there is a minimum required. Being in the state of grace, which means not having any mortal sin on your conscience, is absolutely necessary. Then, the qualities of your communions and the spiritual fruit received from them depend on your disposition. How do you welcome your Savior into your soul? What do you tell Him? Do you listen to Him? What are your intentions? Answering these questions may hopefully help you to make good communions and consequently to increase the grace in your soul.

Let us ask Our Lady to help us to acquire a good disposition for Holy Communion, so that we can welcome Our Lord well when He comes to visit us.

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