On Corpus Christi, Before the Blessed Sacrament
You languish in the darkness like
a criminal imprisoned
a sick man quarantined
an eccentric, babbling uncle, hid away.
Are they so afraid of You?
Are we so ashamed of You?
This is Your pageant day!
Where are Your holy calvacades?
Your solemn ranks of soldiers
with their Captain at their head?
Your festal, fair processions
winding through the curious crowds
who marvel at the sacred spectacle?
In the quiet I hear the echoes
from the stones of ancient streets
crying out with praise to shame us
for our silence.
In the blackness I see faces
of a multitude of children
looking down the ages, wondering
to see so plain a feast.
For the glory due Your name,
how long, O Lord,
must You wait?
I am reading a fascinating book on the Eucharist by Dr. Brant Pitre, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist. In one section of the book, Dr. Pitre illustrates the connection between the Eucharist and the Bread of the Presence from the Temple. God had commanded the Israelites to keep twelve loaves of bread on a golden table in the Holy Place. “And you shall make a table of acacia wood . . . You shall overlay it with pure gold, and make a molding of gold around it. And you shall make its plates and dishes for incense, and its flagons and bowls with which to pour libations; of pure gold you shall make them. And you shall set the Bread of the Presence on the table before me always.” (Ex 25:23-24)
Later in the chapter, Dr. Pitre explains the custom of the priests bringing this table out from the Holy Place three times a year (the feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles) so that the pilgrims might see it: “They [the priests] used to lift it [the Golden Table] up and exhibit the Bread of the Presence on it to those who came up for the festivals, saying to them, “Behold, God’s Love for you!”
What an amazing foreshadowing of God’s love made manifest in the Eucharist. . . .
from Venerable Louis of Granada:
Indeed the greatest proof of Christ’s love for his disciples at the Last Supper was the institution of the Blessed Sacrament . . . O great mystery which is deserving of being impressed on the very core of our hearts! If a prince were to love a slave and take her as his bride and make her queen of all that he possessed, we would acknowledge that such a love is indeed great. And if, after marriage, the slave’s love were to grow cold, and the prince were to go in search of something to re-awaken her love, this would be proof that his love is exceedingly great. So also, the King of glory took as his spouse our souls, which were slaves of the devil, and seeing how cold they were in love, he gave them this mysterious food which has the power to transform souls into himself which has the power to transform souls into himself and make them burn with the living flames of love. Nothing so manifests love as the desire to be loved, and he so desired our love that he invented this wonderful means of arousing it.
The Bridegroom had to absent himself from his spouse and since love will not tolerate a separation nor the absence of the beloved, he wished to depart from his spouse in such a way that he would not be separated from her completely; to leave her and yet somehow remain with her. He could no longer remain with her. He could no longer remain with her and she could not as yet accompany him, but although he was to go and she would remain, they would never henceforth be separated, thanks to this great Sacrament.
The Sunday-poem for this Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus is the beautiful classic by St. Thomas Aquinas, translated by Gerard Manley Hopkins:
Adore te devote
Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore
masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in the wonder at the God thou art.
Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived;
How says trusty hearing? That shall be believed;
What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.
On the cross thy godhead made no sign to men;
Here thy very manhood steals from human ken:
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.
I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
But can plainly call The Lord and God as he:
This faith each day deeper be my holding of,
Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.
O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,
Living Bread the life of us for whom he died,
Lend the life to me then: feed and feast my mind,
There be thou the sweetness man was meant to find.
Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican;
Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what they bosom ran–
Blood that but one drop of has the worth to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.
Jesu whom I look at shrouded here below,
I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,
Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
And be blest for ever with thy glory’s sight.
Some excerpts from Fr. Cantalamessa’s book, The Eucharist: Our Sanctification:
The Eucharist springs from love; the reason for every thing was that he loved us: ‘Christ love us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God’ (Eph 5:2).
At every ‘breaking of the bread’ when the priest breaks the host, it’s as if the alabaster vase of Christ’s humanity were being broken again, which is what happened on the Cross, and as if the perfume of his obedience were rising to touch the Father’s heart again.
“Drown yourself in the Blood of Christ crucified, bathe yourself in the Blood, inebriate and satiate yourself with the Blood and clothe yourself in the Blood. And if you are unfaithful, baptize yourself again in the Blood; if the devil has blurred your mind’s eye, cleanse your eyes with the Blood; if you become ungrateful for unseen gifts, be grateful in the Blood. . . . Melt your lukewarmness in the heat of the Blood and in the light of the Blood darkness will dissolve and you will be the spouse of Truth.” (Catherine of Siena, Letter 102)
And from St. Alphonsus Liguori:
If you are cold, do you think it sensible to move away from fire? Precisely because you feel your heart frozen you should go more frequently to Holy Communion, provided you feel a sincere desire to love Jesus Christ.