Corpus Christi

The Eucharist is not a prize for the strong, but a source of strength for the weak, for sinners. It is forgiveness, it is the Viaticum that allows us to go forward and move along.” — Pope Francis

Corpus Christi Adoration

How fortunate I feel to be able to participate in this celebration! Every first Friday of the month, my church has Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, beginning after 8 a.m. Mass and continuing for 24 hours through Saturday morning Mass. Last month on the first Friday, I went to weekday Mass for the first time, and have been going to every weekday Mass (except for Wednesdays) ever since. Perhaps I’m hoping to make up for lost time? 🙂 Since weekday Masses begin at 8 a.m. (and on Tuesdays, at 7!) I had to turn myself from a “night owl” into a morning person to manage it, and that took a couple of weeks!

When I think of all the times I went to Mass as a child and teenager (as an Episcopalian, not Catholic) I shake my head at how mindless I was to its significance. And as an adult I left the church, and have only now returned and can begin to appreciate this beautiful (breathtaking) offering of Our Lord on behalf of us sinners.

Here is an excerpt of Pope Francis’ homily for Corpus Christi:

 

We separate when we don’t follow the Word of God. When we do not embrace fraternity among ourselves. When we compete for the top spots. When we become climbers.

…Pretending, consuming, putting oneself at the center. But also being competitive, arrogant, unwilling to accept mistakes or seek help. All these points divide us.

I am also very grateful that our priest is such a humble, kind and sweet person, not at all “putting oneself at the center…being competitive, arrogant…” It would have been so off-putting if the priest of our local church (which is the only one I’m able to attend, as I live in a sparsely populated area) were arrogant, pompous! Especially after having a Buddhist teacher who was also humble and kind…

So, remembering Father’s kindness, I took courage and went to my second confession right before the Saturday evening Mass of Pentecost. This time I wasn’t the “deer in the headlights”, as I was at my first confession! Father again kindly helped me through it, as I had questions about what are considered sins that I should be confessing. I’d gotten the impression that he had been a little startled at my asking him a question at my first confession, but he assured me that, yes, I could ask him questions. So I asked him all about “what constitutes sin” and “what if one disagrees with some of the Church’s teachings, is that a sin?”

He told me, delighted, that it is a good thing to go to confession before Pentecost, so that made me very happy! I think I’ll go to confession approximately every two months. Not every week, as that seems a bit much at this point, but not “twice a year”, as the lady from RCIA told me she does, when I asked her how often one should go to confession. That seems a bit too infrequent!

However, I also don’t want to become complacent, or take Mass, and receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, for granted, as might result from going so frequently to weekday Mass. I have been reading Meditations before Mass by Romano Guardini, a little bit at a time before each weekday Mass. Very helpful to prepare one’s mind and heart for receiving Christ. Also, I reflect on Saint Thomas Aquinas’ beautiful Four Points of Meditation before Receiving the Eucharist, which are really four points of prayer, but are good to meditate upon as well.

So, now that I’m a morning person, I got up early today and spent some time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, attended Mass, and then joined my son at the farmers market to shop for our Sabbath meal. Such a beautiful way to spend the weekend!

The Liturgical Calendar

Last night at RCIA class we all received a copy of this beautiful Liturgical Calendar. The artist is Laura James, in “a vibrant style inspired by the art of ancient Christian Ethiopia” (quoting the text accompanying the calendar). The pictures are all of strong, faithful Biblical women. The one in the center is an illustration of the Visitation, and surrounding the calendar wheel are (clockwise from the lower left): Miriam dancing and praising God after the crossing of the Red Sea; Ruth gleaning in the barley field (with Naomi and Boaz in the background); Mary, Martha and Lazarus entertaining Jesus in Bethany (Mary anointing Jesus’ feet and Martha serving the guests); and in the lower right, Mary Magdalene telling the disciples of Jesus’ resurrection.

2015 Year of Grace

We discussed the seasons of the church year, going through each one, beginning with Advent, and mentioning the colors and activities associated with each season. Then we went through some general questions that people had.

Not exactly a thrilling evening, but they can’t all be, eh? 🙂

The RCIA questions were: What season are you drawn to and why? Was there anything discussed tonight that you would like to know more about?

I’m drawn to Lent, and always was as a child as well. Perhaps it’s due to the possibility of change and self-renewal that Lent offers. A challenge to improve oneself! I’ve always loved that. And that’s the same reason I’m going through all of this right now, learning about and converting to Catholicism. Hoping to keep on keeping on… 🙂

And when I was a child, I was drawn to Advent as well. It was such a mystical time to my childlike mind: winter nights, candles and incense and the dark church, and the Advent hymns (which are not the same as the Christmas hymns), many of them a cappella. So beautiful and mysterious to me as a child.

As for anything I would like to know more about, I still don’t have any pressing questions. I don’t know why. I guess because the church I was raised in (Anglican) was so similar to Catholicism, so there’s nothing very unfamiliar to me. Even one of the questions last night, about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist was familiar, because I think our particular Anglican church, that I attended as a child, believed in that. I know it varies from one Anglican church to another, if it’s “high church” or “low church”, whether they believe in the Real Presence, but ours was fairly “high church” (which explains all the candles and incense and a cappella hymns!)

I’m definitely looking forward to next week’s RCIA class, which is to be about Sin, Salvation and Morality. Engaging topics!