Thursday, June 2, 2016

Bishop’s Note: June 02, 2016 – Corpus Christi

 Bishop Eric Menees

This past weekend I had the pleasure of making my pastoral visit to Our Lady of Guadalupe, where on Saturday I had the honor of confirming 36 men and women. On Sunday, we celebrated the ancient feast of Corpus Christi, also known as the Most Blessed Body and Blood of Jesus Christ - in other words, a celebration of the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist.

Corpus Christi reminds us of Christ’s real presence in the Holy Eucharist. How he is present remains a mystery, save by the power of the Holy Spirit working through the instrument of the priest and the gathering of the faithful people. This is not a new teaching, but rather comes from the earliest days of the Church. St. Paul addressed the people of the church in Corinth saying:

“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-25 ESV)

It is precisely because of Jesus’ presence in the sacrament that St. Paul gives this warning to those who would receive Holy Eucharist in an unworthy manner:

“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.” (1 Corinthians 11:27-29 ESV)

For this reason, only those disciples of Jesus who are baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity, who have examined their lives, and who have repented of their sins are invited to receive Holy Eucharist. 

This does not mean that all are not welcome at the altar of the Lord. Just the opposite: we are all sinners in need of salvation, and so we invite all people to the altar for a blessing, whether or not they are not baptized believing Christians. 

In the second century, St. Justin Martyr wrote of Christ’s presence in the sacrament:

"This food we call the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us. For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God's Word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the Word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus." (First Apology of Justin Martyr, Ch. 66)

Catechism Questions: 292-294

292. What does it mean that a Sabbath rest remains for the people of God?
When the Church is perfected in Christ, all believers will be completely free from sin and its curse, and established in an eternity of love, adoration, and joy. This will be our unending Sabbath rest. (Isaiah 66: 22-23; Romans 8:18-30; 1 Corinthians 15; Hebrews 4)

293. How do you celebrate this Sabbath rest with the Church now?
I join in the Church’s weekly worship and participation in God’s heavenly rest, which brings order, meaning, and holiness to the other six days of the week. (Hebrews 4:9-10; Colossians 2:16-19)

294. Why does the Church worship on the first day of the week rather than the seventh? 
The Church worships on the first day of the week in remembrance of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ on the first day of the week. (Matthew 28:1

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