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!

Advertisements

Pondering Faith

“[Faith is] the act of the intellect assenting to a Divine truth owing to the movement of the will, which is itself moved by the grace of God.”

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Faith is one of the topics for this week’s RCIA meeting (Faith/Prayer and Journaling). Once again, I turned to Fr. Robert Barron for insight. I find his easygoing, “just sitting around chatting” videos quite approachable, and at the same time challenging and, for a newbie like me, packed with information.

In the above linked video, he compares the Catholic idea of faith in God (i.e. employing one’s reason and then taking the step of faith) to how people normally interact with others. If we find someone interesting, we may decide to study him, observe him from afar, ask mutual friends about him, do a little research into who he is… but all that will only take us so far. To really get to know him, we must finally actually approach the person, let him speak, and learn from the person himself who he is, his thoughts and feelings, his wishes. Only then can we really know the person, can that person reveal things that we never could have learned from an objective, analytical inquiry.

Then you have to decide if you’re going to believe what the person has revealed to you once you’ve let him speak. Do you trust that person? And that final step is the step of faith.

This analogy is apt because, as Fr. Barron points out, the claim of the Bible is that God is a Person (the supreme Person) who has chosen to speak, to reveal himself to mankind.

We can’t know the heart of God until God decides to speak. At which point I have to say, ‘Okay, do I trust Him or not?’ What’s faith? Faith, for us, is that moment of trust, when I say, ‘Yes. I accept the truth of the God who speaks.’

Fr. Barron

So, this is the “intellect assenting to a Divine truth” in the Aquinas quote above. And this assent is “owing to the movement of the will”, a decision to trust and accept God’s Word, his voice speaking to us.

But what about that last bit, “which is itself moved by the grace of God”? To further Fr. Barron’s analogy a bit, this grace would be God moving first. In the analogy above, the person makes the first move by becoming interested in the other party, and doing some research on him, before finally approaching him and letting him speak. But in our relationship with God, we show interest in learning about God and approaching him due to his grace moving in us, prompting us, kind of nudging us.

Does that negate our free will? I don’t think so, because certainly a person can ignore the prompting and nudging, and I guess eventually (sadly) it’ll stop…

We can choose to respond as if our free will is a seed or a stone. We can allow God’s grace to open us to his call, to nourish us like water and sunlight and fertile soil, or we can harden ourselves so that nothing he says or does can entire in.

Faith

But what astonishes me is that God would choose to speak to mankind at all, reveal himself at all. Why? Amazing. That something so huge, beyond comprehension, as the Creator would also choose to be personal, to actually speak to each one of us, to love us. And yet still remain so completely Other, beyond everything we know. So very strange and beautiful…