Today we as a church celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi, also known as the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. Throughout my life I can remember the long processions winding through the streets of my parish, stopping at set altars in front of parishioner’s homes. I can also remember the 40 hours of Devotion that took place in preparing for this great feast. As a young altar server, I would watch our pastor gently, and reverently place the consecrated host into the monstrance with great reverence as he incensed and knelt in front, inviting us all to pray.
By the time I was in my early teens, I was asked if I would be one of the people to sign up to be in the Church for an hour with Jesus. Over the years as I reflected on those moments, I wondered whether I had been present at all, since) most often I was looking at my watch checking to see when the hour was over. It was not till later in my twenties that I received an awakening into the meaning into the real presence of Jesus. The parish where I was working, a decision was made to “exchange pulpits” with a neighboring Anglican Parish during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. My role was to greet the Anglican minister when he arrived and walk him through the Church and our “routine” for Sunday Mass. As we were walking into the church, I thought the Anglican minister would not genuflect to the Tabernacle. I continued to walk up on the Altar telling him, “when we come to the Altar we bow before we go to the chair.” Much to my surprise, as I approached the Altar, I realized that he had stopped at the foot of the altar and knelt to pray in front of the tabernacle. “If only we Anglicans understood the real presence of Christ like you Catholics do, we would much appreciate the gift you have!” exclaimed the Anglican minister.
It was from this moment that I began my pilgrimage to unpack this awesome gift that we have. After I went to mass I kept hearing “Take and eat, this is my body, Take and drink this is my blood…. Do this in memory of me.” I took this to heart and committed to living out these words in everyday life. Being nourished by the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ I now would accept the invitation to go out and share the same with everyone.
In celebrating todays solemnity, I feel called to a deeper relationship with Jesus, and to allow myself to be fully led by him. To deepen my relationship with Christ, I spend a portion of each day just sitting in front of the tabernacle, listening to him and learning from him.
I was recently comforted by the words of Pope Francis in his book Church of Mercy, I offer you his words; How do you abide in the presence of the Lord? When you visit the Lord, when you look at the tabernacle, what do you do? Without speaking…. “But I speak, I talk, I think, I meditate, I listen” … Very good! But do you let yourself be looked at by the Lord? (may we let) ourselves be gazed upon by the Lord. He looks at us, and this is itself a way of praying. -Do you allow yourselves to be gazed upon by the Lord? But how do you do this? You look at the tabernacle and you let yourselves be looked at….it is simple! It is a bit boring; I fall asleep.” Fall asleep then, sleep, He is still looking at you. But know for sure that he is looking at you. This warms the heart, igniting the fire of friendship with the Lord making you feel that he truly sees you, that he is close to you and loves you.
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