18 June 2006

The Solemnity of Corpus Christi

In today’s first reading, Moses reminds us of a dimension of liturgy which is not always evident during Mass. He ratifies the covenant by sprinkling some of the blood on the altar and on the people. This is very much a foreshadowing of the sacred blood which, when sprinkled on the altar of the cross, won our redemption.

In recent decades, we have spoken often about the Eucharist as a meal; we refer to the altar as a “table.” Indeed, we do commemorate the Last Supper, but we also commemorate the sacrifice of the cross. When we consider the Mass as a sacrifice, we present to our hearts an invitation to unite our sufferings, our sacrifices with the most holy sacrifice on the altar.

Let’s be honest: the various elements of liturgy can introduce many opportunities for differences to arise among the most well-meaning of participants. Be they differences in taste or disagreements about style, attending or planning a liturgy amid such challenges can be difficult. It can be hard to pray under such circumstances.

Any number of situations can cause us unrest when we come to worship the Lord. We may come to Mass from a situation which was stressful and we are distracted; perhaps we come to Mass and find ourselves uncomfortable because of elements of preference beyond our control; it might be the case that we are responsible for some service during the Mass such as reading or singing; we may find ourselves sitting at Mass worrying about whether or not we turned off the stove. Any of these situations can cause our hearts to be distracted and minds to wander. Every one of these situations, however, is an opportunity to place our hearts on the altar. When, at Mass, we find ourselves in a situation where our souls are not at rest – for any reason – perhaps we could call to mind the sacrificial dimension of the Mass. When we are suffering, hurt, frustrated, or distracted, we have something to offer the Lord. Instead of gritting our teeth and allowing smoke to escape from our ears, perhaps we could unite our little sacrifice, the cause of our unrest, to the Lord's sacrifice. "Here it is, Lord. It may be small compared to your sacrifice, but it's all I have to offer right now." And may He look with favor on our offering.

"In the Eucharist, our Lord abases Himself, if we may so express it, and changes Himself into food, so that He may penetrate our souls and unite Himself most intimately to the heart and to the body of His faithful."
St. Francis de Sales

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