The Church observes the Solemnity of Corpus Christi  Domini this week. In some places throughout the world the Solemnity was observed on Thursday. Benedict XVI participated in the annual celebration of the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ in Rome’s San Giovanni Laterno Cathedral, which is by the way the “cathedra” for the Bishop of Rome. After the liturgy there is a procession with the Eucharistic species that proceeds to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major and concludes with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The Solemnity of Corpus Christi Domini has been universally celebrated by the Church since 1624. This year the event was marked by the usual celebrations in the Diocese of Rome. The most significant point of the homily from Benedict XVI was the statement that, “Eucharist is essential nourishment for Catholics in an often-hostile world.”

  That is the point in this authors sentiments that most frequently eludes us as followers that are focused on the Real Presence of Jesus in our Eucharist. Not only is Eucharist nourishment for the pilgrim believer, it is a fortifying factor in our daily struggles to live the truly moral life to which we are called through Baptism. That is why the issue of reception of the Eucharist is and should be such a great concern to those that are entrusted with its care and distribution. We have heard a lot recently about politicians that are Catholic that maintain views contrary to Catholic moral and social teaching. A few weeks ago, the often misunderstood and confused ecclesiastical censure of “excommunication” was tossed around during the Papal trip to Brazil. A lot of Vatican resources were used in providing triage to the Pope’s interview with journalists. Quite a bit of band aides were needed on the flight from the Holy City to Brazil. But Benedict is correct. Politicians and other individuals that advocate beliefs contrary to the Church’s teachings on the dignity of human life should not approach let alone receive Holy Communion. It is not a matter of discussion. Eucharistic reception is for those in communion with all of their brothers and sisters in faith. That implies individual assent to all of our Catholic teachings. Frequently we hear about the reception of Eucharist and the question of restricting its reception focus around political leaders and their pseudo-Catholic views. There is more to this than just the rituals of political bantering. Proper disposition towards reception of the Eucharist is an essential core of our Catholic faith identity.

With that said, in addition to our Eucharistic prominence, we are also a community of faithful believers that are not perfect. We suffer from the results of original sin and we are imperfectly human. That is why the Church and Her Sacraments offer such a magnificent source of forgiveness and renewal to all of the faithful. Eucharist and Reconciliation are uniquely bound together for Catholics. Frequently we partake of Eucharist with less consideration to the Sacrament of Reconciliation…but that is erroneous.

Both Sacraments bring about spiritual nourishment and renewal, each in their unique Sacramental identity. Both Sacraments also remember that we are flawed individuals striving towards the goal of Divine perfection. We are on our way…we just need to take advantage of our Catholic Sacramental resources and realize that the Sacraments are not for perfect people, but instead for flawed and imperfect people searching for their experience of God.

The Feast of Corpus Christi is a great recollection of the love and devotion the Church associates to this Sacrament. It is also an opportunity to reaffirm our universal need for conversion. Yes, we do have a lot to say about the proper disposition of individuals for the reception of Communion, but that is because the awesome Gift of Eucharist is central to our life and existence in faith. One of the topics that should be more clearly discussed for all Catholics is not that we should pick and choose individuals that are worthy to receive Eucharist; rather we should internally question our disposition to receive Eucharist. We all need to ask, “…am I worthy to receive Eucharist?” That question should be asked on a more regular basis. If it were, we would make more time in our parish schedules for the reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and the lines for Eucharistic reception would be noticeably shorter.

As we continue to celebrate the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ lets try to recognize as a faithful community that we all need its spiritual nourishment and sacramental renewal. When we look around our parish church instead of worrying about all of the individuals receiving Communion, we should worry about what we can do to make the lines longer for all of us to be considered properly disposed for the reception of this great Sacrament.


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