Thursday, June 07, 2007

Feast of Corpus Christi

Daily food of the soul.

Christ by instituting the Blessed Eucharist gave the culminating proof of his love for God, His Father, and for men, his brethren. In that upper room in which the last Feast of the Old Law was celebrated, the God-made-man fulfilled, not only the first commandment, but also the second which is like to it. He gave endless honour to his Father, and to man the Food which is eternal life. Sacrifice and Communion make one in the Heart of Christ, of the Incarnate Word, whose love embraces his Father in heaven and his children on earth. The Christ of the Eucharist invites us to the table: "Take and eat: take and drink."
If he makes himself present under the species of bread, it is that we may feed upon Him. His will is to be our daily nourishment, our subsistence. St John declares that "the Word was made flesh"; was united, by His Incarnation, to the flesh that is an essential portion of our humanity, in a union so actual that it glorified the very depth of our nature. In Communion, he goes yet farther; as food, He unites himself to the flesh of each one of us, personally. "The Word was made flesh, and come to dwell among us". I can add, "and to be the Food which sustains the life of my soul." An old ecclesiatical decree declares: This Sacrament is for life of the soul what food is for the life of the body. It is our subsistence, the cause of growth, the joy of life. On the other hand, because the life of the soul consists in union with Christ, the effects of the divine Food are different from those of unconsecrated bread. Natural food becomes part of ourselves, and ceases to exist as and when we do, but by the divine Bread of the Eucharist our life is absorbed in His, so that we can say with St Paul, "I am alive; or rather, not I; it is Christ that lives in me." (Gal. 2:20). The branch lives by the sap of the Vine; it is Communion that the true Vine pours its sap into each one of its branches. "He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, lives continually in me, and I in him" (John 6:56). To live in Christ is to identify thought and will with His in a word, to become one Spirit with Him. When he enters the soul, h becomes the soul of all it says or does. He gives His Flesh to each one individually, that all may form but one Body. Not content with keeping life in us, he makes it sanctifies and supernaturalizes out human faculties by claiming them for his own. As we grow in grace, our lips will speak Christ's words, our affection bear the mark of his loving-kindness. the heart that loves God in man will become yet more loving, since it will be the love of the Heart of Jesus. Full-grown, we shall become other Christs. The fire of divine love which the Son of God brought upon earth will not only burn in our hearts but will warm and enlighten others, that his wish may be accomplished. "It is fire that I have come to spread over the earth, and what better wish can I have that it should be kindled?" (Luke 12:49).
Thus, in Communion heavenly joys and blessings are poured into our hearts without stint or measure. "God, who in this wonderful sacrament hast left us a memorial of thy passion, enable us, we pray thee, so to venerate the mysteries of thy Body and Blood that we may constantly feel in our lives the effects of thy redemption!"(Collect for Corpus Christi.)

The picture is "Eucharist in the fruit wreath" by Jan van de Heem