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!

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Grateful for my dear local church…

Another Gratituesday rolls around, and this week I have so many things that I’ve been grateful for, that I’ll just focus on the Easter-related ones! 😀

  • I’m grateful for the beautiful Easter vigil service, and for the opportunity to be confirmed in the Catholic church, and for the others who also were baptized and confirmed last Saturday.
  • I’m grateful that I stuck with it all the way through the RCIA program, even though at times I wondered what on earth I was doing, why this was such a long, involved process (I’d truly expected that at most there’d be a couple weeks of study and then I’d be welcomed into the church) and considering my ADD whether I’d lose interest over the months of study! (I didn’t.)
  • I’m grateful for how lovely our little church is, with its many stained glass windows, and especially adorned with Easter flowers.
  • I’m grateful that our church celebrates mass every day, so there are many opportunities for me to attend.

One of the sweetest parts of Saturday’s service was during the Gloria, when the children ran up to the front of the church carrying the donated flowers, and handed them to a couple of adults who placed them around the altar, and then the children hurried to the back again to pick up more bouquets and carry them up front. It lasted a good 10 minutes at least, with so many flowers! It was so delightful!

Child with basket of flowers

I’m still contemplating Saturday’s vigil, it so impressed me and was so lovely…

The Cross of Christ

This evening in RCIA class we toured the Church sanctuary, and Father spoke of the meaning behind all the ritual items the Catholic church uses during Mass and displays in the church. I’d not visited the church yet (our RCIA classes had been held in a separate building up till now) and I must say I was a little disappointed. The church was so bare! I’ve visited many small Catholic churches as well as large cathedrals, and both types can be beautiful, but our local Catholic church is not very beautiful at all — so plain. *sigh* The only thing that distinguishes it from a plain, bare Protestant church is the Stations of the Cross along the side walls.

And the large crucifix in the front of the church. That struck me very powerfully. One of the questions handed out tonight, after the tour, was “Does the difference between the cross and the crucifix say anything to me?” It’s late at night, so I’ll only put down my first impressions. The cross is the symbol of Christianity and of Christ’s sacrifice for us sinners, and we can in turn use it as a personal symbol of our identity as Christians (in the same way that the Arabic nun is being used today in Iraq to identify Christians). It’s the means by which Christ’s sacrifice was accomplished — on a cross.

A crucifix is an actual depiction of Christ’s sacrifice, of what he actually did for us, and serves as a compelling reminder of that truth. A crucifix is a worthy object of contemplation and veneration, because it depicts Christ crucified, whereas the cross was the Roman method of torture and execution, and although now a symbol of Christianity, in itself shouldn’t be an object of adoration.

Alonso Cano's La Crucifixión at El Museo Nacional del Prado

Alonso Cano’s La Crucifixión at El Museo Nacional del Prado

“The cross did not of itself redeem us. Scripture tells us that the person, Jesus Christ redeemed us on the cross. This act of our redemption was intensely personal on the part of the Redeemer and on the part of the redeemed. The crucifix conveys this in a way that the cross alone simply does not. We do not dare to ignore what He endured. We do not dare to tidy up His passion. We worship Him in precisely the unsightly, bloody appearance of His self gift.” Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

I believe I will be spending a lot of time meditating and worshiping before that crucifix…