This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ -traditionally known by the Latin name Corpus Christi. Bishop Matano is announcing today the Year of the Eucharist which will run from today to the same feast day in June 2018.The Year of the Eucharist is the centerpiece of the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Rochester on March 3, 1868. The Bishop invites us to reflect deeply upon the meaning of the Eucharist in our lives as Roman Catholics. Here is a basic framework from which to begin understanding the Eucharist inour lives:
The historical and scriptural source of the Eucharist is Jesus’ last meal with his disciples before his arrest and execution. In The Acts of the Apostles we read that the first Christians “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). From the beginning, Christians put this ritual with bread and wine at the center of their communal life.
There are two themes or images running through the Eucharist and the Mass. The Mass is a sacred meal. This theme arises from the Last Supper (which was itself a religious meal of the Jewish Passover), particularly the bread and wine at the center of Mass. The other theme is sacrifice. This theme arises from the words Jesus said over the bread and wine at the Last Supper, which words are repeated by the priest at Mass. Jesus himself associated the Last Supper with his impending death in atonement for the sins of others. In some eras of Church history one of these themes or the other has been emphasized.
We need to hold onto both equally. As with all the sacraments, the Eucharist is fundamentally relational. St. Augustine expressed this in the metaphor of making
bread and wine. As the grains of wheat are gathered, ground and baked into a loaf of bread, or as the grapes are harvested, crushed and fermented into wine, so we Christians are to be gathered together in community to be formed by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ. Concerning Mass, Augustine said, “You receive the Body of Christ, become the Body of Christ. Become what you receive.” (See also I Corinthians 12:431). So the Eucharist or celebration of Mass brings us into communion with God and communion with one another.
Please mark your calendars for the St. Anne Novena (July 17 25) and the Feast of St. Anne (July 26). Our theme will be the Eucharist. Each evening Fr. George Heyman, President of St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry, will help us reflect more deeply on the meanings of the Eucharist in our lives.
Grace and peace,
Fr. Gary Tyman