Corpus Christi: John Gallagher SJ explains the meaning behind the words
A WIT said he hoped that the Holy Spirit would be as Muccessful with the new church 4s the Holy Ghost was with the old one!
' The function of the Spirit is the same today, to develop within us the very life and reality of Christ himself. It is only tlirough the Holy Spirit that we can say, "It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me." In the Mass we ask that God will sanctify by his Holy Spirit the gifts so that they may become the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Eucharist is the outstanding gift of Christ, the offering of himself to us. It was at his last supper with his friends that Christ took bread and gave it to them saying, "Take, this is my body." Then taking the cup he gave it to them saying, "This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many."
The Eucharist is the mysterious means by which the atoning work of Christ is made present to us and effective for us. When we eat ordinary food it is taken into our bodies and becomes part of us. Similarly in the Eucharist we are nourished by the body and blood of Christ, we are taken into the very life of Christ, we become more completely members of his body the Church.
The heavenly food satisfied or craving, for our hearts are restless until they rest in Christ. We become more conscious of His presence. Christ is always present in his Church especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the Mass not only in the person of His minister but especially under the Eucharistic appearance.
He is present in the word since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures and read in the church.
CHe is present when the church prays or sings for He promised, ',`When two or three are gathered together for my sake there am I in the midst of them. 'The bread and wine become Site sacred body and blood of ur self-sacrificed and glorious hrist.
Cana was a prefiguring of this. There, water was changed into wine. In the Mass wine is changed into blood.
When the Blessed Sacrament i's reserved in our churches it is still the adorable living Christ. Devotion to Christ in the tabernacle is based on true doctrine and can be spiritually very helpful.
It is an extension of the Mass, thanksgiving for past communions and preparation for future ones. In the Eucharistic sacrifice, the priest is our minister and spokesman, but we all play an active part. And the essence of it all is the love of God in Christ and the love of God's people.
Christ is hidden in the Eucharist as totally as he was in his mother's womb. It is noticeable that all the shrines of Mary throughout the world have become centres of Eucharistic life. At each spot Mary requested that a church be built. here, hearts broken in despair discover a new world. As at Emmaus Christ draws us forward through the breaking of break to a new life, creating within us desire for eternal joy in the heavenly kingdom.
We should not distract ourselves from the reality of God's presence by worrying about explanations. There are no explanations. We are face to face with a supremely mysterious happening, not with some process that we can investigate and solve.
The Body we adore, the Body we receive in Holy Communion is the Risen Body of Christ. Because He has risen from the dead Christ is no longer subject to the limitations of space and time.
Christ's present way of existing is totally different from ours. When He came on earth He limited himself, as we are limited, to being in only one place at a time. The Real Presence means the effective, total, powerful presence of Christ.
He comes to us in the fulness of his divine power and of His human sympathy. What that means we can, albeit dimly, understand. That is all the matters. The divine love and power are put at our disposal.
We have, however, to respond to Christ's presence. We have to assimilate the divine food and use the spiritual energy it creates.
If a friend of mine is present in the room and I totally ignore him not looking at him, not speaking to him, not listening to him, then he might just as well be outside the door.
I can make Christ more really present, that is more effectively present, the more I respond to his appeal, the more I lay myself open to His influence.
The Eucharist prepares us for the consummation of human history when Christ will make manifest all that He has already given us, though at the moment we apprehend it only by faith. In the inspiring words of St Thomas Aquinas, "0 holy banquet in which Christ is received, the memory of his Passion is recalled, our hearts are filled with grace, and we are given a pledge of our fugure glory."