Monday, May 30, 2016

Christ's Presence

O Sacred Banquet, in which Christ is received, the memory of his Passion is recalled, the soul is filled with grace, and the pledge of future glory is given us.

The novelist Andre Dubus once wrote a sort of apologia explaining why he received the Eucharist regularly, despite the lack of understanding among his more intellectual friends. He wrote: “This morning I received the sacrament I still believe in: at seven-fifteen the priest elevated the host, then the chalice, and spoke the words of the ritual, and the bread became flesh, the wine became blood, and minutes later I placed on my tongue the taste of forgiveness and of love that affirmed, perhaps celebrated, my being alive, my being mortal. This has nothing to do with immortality, with eternity; I love the earth too much to contemplate a life apart from it, although I believe in that life. No, this has to do with mortality, the touch of flesh, and my belief in the sacrament of the Eucharist is simple: without touch, God is a monologue, an idea, a philosophy; he must touch and be touched, the tongue on flesh, and that touch is the result of the monologues, the idea, the philosophies which led to faith; but in the instant of the touch there is no place for thinking, for talking, the silent touch affirms all that, and goes deeper: it affirms the mysteries of love and mortality.” 

The Council of Trent declared that in the Most Blessed Sacrament “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.” How often do we allow our hearts to be nourished by this beautiful, sensual gift of God? The gift of the Eucharist is the incarnate expression of God’s desire to be present to us, with us and in us; a touch, an embrace more real than anything we can imagine. It is the very sensual experience of holding in our hands, on our tongue, the body and blood of our God. 

Indeed the Eucharist invites us into the tenderness of God's presence. And our reception of this Most Blessed Sacrament demands that we share this tenderness with all who need to know and experience the touch of God. Once we have been satisfied at this Sacred Banquet, we must heed Jesus' instruction in the Gospel, “You give them something to eat.”

Photograph by Father Emmanuel. Excerpts from Dom Damian's homily for Corpus Christi.