Friday, we will travel to Washington to try to talk with the pope’s ambassador in the USA. That same day, we keep the 464th anniversary of the holy death of St. Ignatius Loyola, his feast day. [Spanish]
St. Ignatius encouraged frequent Holy Communion. He wrote:
One of the most admirable effects of Holy Communion is to preserve the soul from sin, and to help those who fall through weakness to rise again. It is much more profitable, then, to approach this divine sacrament with love, respect, and confidence, than to remain away.
We will read in Sunday’s gospel that the Lord Jesus felt pity for us in our hunger. He knows that we human beings have appetites that don’t quit. He formed us from dust, and we tend toward dust. We starve to death without regular feeding.
So the Lord gives us food. If anyone starves in this fertile world, it is not because Almighty God has failed to provide. Rather, the malice, selfishness, or stupidity of man is to blame.
So we thank God for feeding us. At the same time, we listen to His solemn warnings about lowering our horizons to belly level. As a sequel to His feeding of the 5,000, the Lord gave a strict speech. He spoke about our having no life in us if we do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood.
A lot of people think Catholics are weird, if not crazy, for believing in the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.
Let’s grant this much: Our worship of the Blessed Sacrament constitutes an act of pure faith. We do not claim that our senses can perceive the Real Presence. We believe Christ abides with us in the Blessed Sacrament.
So our faith in the Real Presence might look crazy to an un-believer. But we also insist: There is only one thing crazier than believing in the Body and Blood of Christ.
Not believing in it.
How did it all begin? Who instituted the Holy Eucharist? Some calm, rational person—some great philosopher, or man of science, or soft-spoken sage? Some paragon of respectability? The whole business—getting together on Sunday morning, reading the gospel, praying together to the Father—did a committee of sober, civic-minded officials come up with this routine?
No. The Holy Mass was invented by Jesus Christ. And we well know: a lot of people thought that He was insane.
We don’t believe that just any old Nazarene carpenter worked miracles in the hills around the Sea of Galilee. We believe that God, when He became man, did this. He revealed the truth about Himself by working miracles. Like feeding 5,000 hungry people with five loaves and two fish.
It would be irrational to think that anyone other than Jesus Christ could feed us with His own Body and Blood. And manage to do it, worldwide, for two millennia and counting. But when you consider that He is the Son of God, you recognize: He can and will do everything He said He intended to do.
We feed on Christ by believing in Him. Maybe it is crazy to believe that Christ is God. But it is much crazier not to believe that He is. And considering that the man Who said, “This is my Body,” and “This is my Blood,” is God—why would we doubt His words?
We don’t claim to understand the Real Presence. We don’t claim to control it. We don’t claim to have produced it. We are every bit as mystified by this whole thing as anyone else.
It is just that we are hungry. We need food for body and for soul. And we believe in the words of Christ.
Since the bishop unjustly suspended my ministry as a priest, I can only say Mass by myself. I miss celebrating regular parish Masses. A lot.
It’s a hard, lonely road, celebrating Holy Mass by yourself, day in and day out, for months. Just like it’s a hard, lonely road for many parishioners, with the virus still threatening our health, keeping people at home on Sundays.
But the same analysis applies, when it comes to what’s crazy. Maybe it seems crazy for me to keep celebrating the ceremony, by myself, all these long, hard weeks. But I would be crazier not to do it.
The Holy Mass is how He feeds us, with Himself. He offered His Body and Blood on the cross for us, and conquered death. At the altar, we have communion in His risen, living flesh, our pledge of eternal life.
Let’s do everything we can to remain crazy enough to live for heaven. Communion with the Blessed Sacrament gives us the way there.