Sunday June 6th, 2021
Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Year B
Dear Pastorate Family,
Ten years ago, on June 26th, 2011, the day after I was ordained a priest, I celebrated my Mass of Thanksgiving on the Solemnity that we celebrate this weekend. It was celebrated at 2 p.m. at the Church of the Resurrection in Dubuque, my home parish. I was nervous, but felt mostly ready. I practiced “Mass” while in seminary, but this was the first Mass at which I’d be presiding and it’d be an actual Mass, not just practice! It was a great day with a great reception afterward. At the reception, I presented my mom with the cloth used to wipe my hands after they were anointed at my ordination, and I gave my dad the stole with which I heard my first confession. I was happy to be ordained a priest 10 years ago, and I’m still happy to be a priest. There have been ups and downs in priesthood, blessings and challenges, joys and sorrows, but I can’t imagine being anything other than a priest. I’ll celebrate my 10th anniversary of ordination later this month on June 25th (with cupcakes after each Mass that weekend).
It’s a privilege to be a priest. It’s a privilege to hold a host and a chalice filled with wine and say the words which Jesus spoke at the Last Supper; it’s a privilege to know that, through the words I speak as a priest, God changes ordinary bread and wine into the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Even though there may be reasons to not be Catholic (i.e. scandals among clergy, occasionally unfriendly people, drama in parish life, etc.), I can’t imagine being anything else precisely because of the precious gift of the Eucharist. Jesus founded the Church on the “rock” of St. Peter and asked His disciples to celebrate the Eucharist as a memorial of His sacrifice. When we celebrate the Eucharist this weekend, we do so in thanksgiving for the sacrifice of Jesus to save us and draw us into communion with God.
In the Second Vatican Council, the Church declared that the Eucharist is the source and the summit of the Christian life. It is the source – the ground of our faith, the inspiration for our activity, and the foundation of our relationship with God. It is also the summit – the height to which we’re called, the goal toward which we’re climbing, and the pinnacle of our faith. We are privileged to receive the Real Presence of Jesus in Holy Communion whenever we’re at Mass and are properly disposed to receive the Lord. A proper spiritual disposition of our body, mind, and heart helps us experience a grace-filled reception. The more properly disposed we are to receive the Lord, the more our reception of Holy Communion will bear spiritual fruit in giving us a peaceful mind and heart. The Eucharist gives us strength to go forth from Mass fortified by divine grace, and calls to come back later in order to be renewed again. It’s a beautiful cycle of receiving, going forth, and coming back again. One way in which we can “come back” to the Lord even when not at Mass is to stop into church and pray before the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist reserved in the tabernacle. There’s a beautiful intimacy to being alone in an empty church with God. If you’ve never done it, give it a try. Jesus is really and truly present in each of our parishes in the Eucharist. The red candle light in every sanctuary calls us to stop and recognize the sacred reality of the Lord’s presence in the Eucharist. Let’s allow that red sanctuary light to call us to “stop” and just be with the Lord. Bring before him your worries and concerns. Thank Him for your blessings. Ask Him to help you in your needs. Praise Him for His goodness. Ask Him forgiveness for your sins. Make a visit to pray, and allow the Eucharistic Lord to be what He is – the source and summit of our faith.