Monday, June 27, 2011

Corpus Christi and St. Josemaria

Each year, Catholics from the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph join together for a Corpus Christi Procession. Pictures here are from the procession which took place yesterday afternoon in Lenexa, Kansas. As in years past, KCK Archbishop Joseph Naumann and KCSJ Bishop Robert Finn took turns carrying the monstrance.

Earlier in the day, Bishop Finn celebrated Mass in Kansas City and his homily touched both upon the Feast and the saint whose commemoration also falls on June 26:

Homily for Mass of St. Josemaria Escriva
Corpus Christi Sunday – June 26, 2011 – Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish
Most Reverend Robert W. Finn
Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph

Dear Friends,

DSC_0239 Adoration is the first and most important prayer of the human heart. In the adoration of God we orient all our being: mind, heart, soul and strength toward the One God, Who alone has the right to our complete obedience and devotion.

This is what the Catechism teaches: “Adoration is the first act of the virtue of religion. To adore God is to acknowledge Him as Creator and Savior, the Lord and Master of everything that exists, as infinite and merciful love.” (CCC #2096)

Today we celebrate the Solemn Feast of Jesus’ Body and Blood, Corpus Christi. Here at Mass – and later in procession with the Eucharistic Lord, we raise Him on high in an act of adoration and love. It is only when we place God first and above all else that we begin to experience the right orientation of our life. There are so many things in our life and in our world that vie for “first place,” which seek and absorb so much of our energy and attention. Over and over we must decide what is first? – Who is first? – And when we give God this spot which is His in the perfection of justice, only then do all these other things – many which are of high importance – only then can each find its rightful place. This is the first commandment of the law: Love God above all; worship Him alone.

The sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ contains this fullness of all spiritual treasure. The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life (CCC # 1324). The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of the communion in the divine life. (#1325) The other sacraments and all works of the apostolate are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. (#1324) The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice. (#1367) Here is a very important reality that helps us see the meaning of the Eucharistic sacrifice. Jesus is not only present in His Body and Blood – as a kind of object of our adoration. But He is a living God who draws us to Himself such that our adoration now becomes a Communion in the Body and Blood of Christ. This deep truth is, of course, not just for today, Corpus Christi. Rather Jesus has given Himself and He is with us always until the consummation of the world.

DSC_0252 One of the particular reasons for my participation with you today, dear friends, is because June 26 is commemorated as the Feast of a modern day saint, St. Josemaria Escriva. Clearly the Sunday celebration, and even more, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi takes precedence over the saint day. St. Josemaria would loudly insist on this as would any saint who lived their life for God. But nonetheless I thought it would still be a suitable moment to mention and seek the intercession of the Spanish priest who loved so much the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrifice of the Mass, and who many years before the Second Vatican Council saw so clearly this right proportion of adoration and the whole of the Christian life.

St. Josemaria, in a way that seems to have anticipated the Council, taught simply and beautifully about the universal call to holiness for every faithful man, woman, and child. He knew all were called to be saints, and that the laity in particular were called to find and live holiness in all the most ordinary and everyday paths of the world. Through our daily work, whatever it happens to be, we offer God a gift of ourselves. As we realize we are offering ourselves, we strive to carry out all we do, from the most sublime duty to the most mundane daily tasks, with great love precisely because they are given to God.

In a homily he gave on Corpus Christi, St. Josemaria called us to contemplate the depth of our Lord’s love for us that causes Him to want to stay with us. And He not only wants to be with us. He desires to share life with us. He even chooses to use us as instruments for the divine work of God. (See Homily in Christ is Passing By)

When St. Josemaria spoke of our time before the Blessed Sacrament he said that this time passes quickly, because this is what it is like to spend time with those we love. “Love,” he says, “has been waiting for us for 2000 years.” He concludes that this is not such a long time because Christ loves us. We have a constant need of His friendship. Christ doesn’t only wish to see us occasionally. He wants us fully. Jesus gave Himself to us as food. He wants to nourish us so that we can become one thing with Him. He wants to be that close with us.

DSC_0224 St. Josemaria would always seek out churches in his travels around. He would look for the tabernacle. The tabernacle, he said is like Bethany, like the house of Martha and Mary and Lazarus. There is a place where we can rest and visit with our Lord.

Speaking of the Corpus Christi procession, St. Josemaria compared this with the Gospel when in His life on earth Jesus walked through the towns and villages. People saw Him, and they were not always expecting Him. He came among us – True God and True Man. He comes into the everyday procession of our lives. But the Saint cautions us: the procession cannot just be a passing noise – seen and then forgotten.

We might say something similarly of Mass: It cannot be a passing moment, an obligation fulfilled. It is a moment, rather, of communion with a friend Who wishes to walk with us everyday. He joins Himself to us and His presence endures – but we must live in Him. He does challenge us. There is much work to be done. There is no harvest unless we are ready to sow; unless we are ready for the hard work. Jesus wants to give us Himself as the food for our hungers; human hungers of Truth, Peace, Unity, Justice. We must be ready, if we accept His Food, to carry forward the work. We come to the Eucharist and He nourishes and strengthens us, but then we are sent out to carry Christ and the work which is His love to the world.

Dear friends, I am happy this morning to be able to share this Corpus Christi with you. I am strengthened by your faith, and we know that what we do here, this morning is at the same time part of the worship of the Universal Church. We are united at this altar with St. Josemaria and a whole cloud of witnesses, a living Communion of Saints. At the heart of those who urge us to approach the Eucharistic Lord Jesus, is the very one who in accord with God’s saving power and plan brought Him flesh and blood into the world. Mary Mother of the Eucharist accompanies us in our walk with Christ. She adored Him within her womb. She showed us how to make Him first in our lives. She shared – as no other human person – in His saving sacrifice at Calvary. I ask her to watch over each of you. May Mary, St Josemaria and all the Saints join us in all the prayers and intentions we bring to the Lord Jesus: for our families, our parishes, our communities, our diocese.

We adore you O Eucharistic Lord. Give us all we need to carry you to the world!