|Photo from Wikipedia|
Today is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Please pray for Renaurd West as he is ordained to the Sacred Priesthood this evening at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in downtown Charleston. Tomorrow he will offer his first Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. A Solemn High Mass.
Last weekend, I was grateful to attend Mass for the Feast of Corpus Christi. I picked up an 8x10 image of the Divine Mercy. The priest gave a lovely homily on the real presence of Christ and used the example of kissing between lovers or the nibbling of baby toes to express what this love is. God offers Himself to us and we eat Him up. Oh, I'm not doing justice ...
The folks at Highlights are wonderful. I had requested a ride and they arranged one. However, three of the four ladies pictured below also wanted to go, one with a car, so we went on our own. Kristi was on a roll, talking about self-care, but she took a break so that we could attend Mass. This is the atmosphere at a Highlights Foundation workshop. Relaxed. Flexible. Gracious. I know Paula would've liked to come, but she was busy doing critiques.
My husband had taken the children downtown for Corpus Christi and told me of the wonderful procession from the Cathedral to the oldest Catholic Church, St. Mary of the Annunciation, in Charleston. How beautiful it is to confess Christ as King in public and adore Him in His humble form -- that of a wafer. I know that for many, it is just a symbol, and indeed, Mass is full of symbolism, but Catholics believe that through the action of the priest, the Holy Spirit transforms the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. It's not magic or hocus-pocus, which is a parody of "hoc est corpus meum" (this is my body), the words spoken during consecration. Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ are in consecrated Bread and Wine.
|Photo swiped from Paula Morrow|
I do have a few more thoughts on this. Years ago, when I was a neophyte Catholic, we had a Presbyterian couple who wanted to come to Mass with us. And they wanted to receive Holy Communion. They didn't want to be left out. My first question was: then why aren't you Catholic? But my second question was full of doubt. Who am I to deny Jesus to anybody? And so I didn't press the issue, given that the man was actually a minister.
I do not understand a great many things, but I do believe that in everything the Catholic Church teaches. It is what I professed four years ago and I am happy to tell you that obedience does lead to understanding. I always tell the children that Mary is our model. She didn't argue with the angel Gabriel or ask for complete understanding. No. She obeyed. Fiat!
Now I realize that it is a grave sin to receive Christ unworthily. Now, if we have not fasted or not had a chance to go to confession, we abstain. We still receive the graces from going to Mass and being in the presence of Christ, but we do not receive His Body. I am acutely aware of this deprivation, but this knowledge orders our lives. It makes me want to be good and pleasing to God so that I may receive Him.
So non-Catholics. Do not be offended if a Catholic asks you not to partake in Holy Communion. You can make a spiritual communion. I do invite you to study what Catholics believe. I didn't realize how many misconceptions there are about Catholics. On the trip up to Honesdale I met a lovely young woman with a zeal to evangelize. She was saddened that Catholics were praying to statues, that they had forgotten about Jesus and were too focused on Mary and the saints. I had to let her know that we do ask for the saints in heaven to pray for us, just as I would a friend here on earth. And there is also that hocus pocus I spoke of before.
There is a term that is bandied about: Cafeteria Catholic. It is an oxymoron. You are either Catholic or not. You cannot pick and choose the teachings you do not like and still call yourself Catholic. Of course, we have free will, so we may doubt or disagree, but in the end, to be Catholic, one must have total belief in all the Church teaches. And I can tell you that many times it is not easy to be so terribly counter-cultural. But it is the best thing that happened to us.
Kristi made an interesting observation. When she realized that Jesus died for her and saved her, she wondered why everybody isn't a Christian. I wonder this too. When you come to know Christ through the Word and the sacraments, it is so powerful, you cannot help but fall in love. In a gathering of Christians, His presence is palpable.