This weekend we celebrate the feast formally titled the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, but popularly known as Corpus Christi. Every time the Church gathers to celebrate the Mass, the Eucharist, which is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord, is at the center of our worship. We must avoid the danger of growing lax in our reverence and awe due to our familiarity with this great and wonderful sacrament, which is one reason why the Church dedicates a particular day of solemnity to focus solely on this mystery. The Eucharist is the life source of the Church, the ultimate manifestation of Christ’s presence among us, and it has been the strength of the faithful for the Church’s entire history. It is not a sign or symbol, because a sign or symbol points to another reality. It is itself a reality because the Holy Spirit changes the humble gifts of bread and wine that we offer into the real presence of Jesus.
Two years ago at Father Braden’s first Mass, the rector of Saint Meinrad Seminary preached and in his homily he recounted a wonderful story told by the 20th century American Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor. In a letter, Flannery recounted that she was invited to a dinner party and how she felt out of place in a group of “intellectuals.” She goes on to say that she said nothing all night until the conversation turned to the Church and the Eucharist and that her hostess talked about that, even though she had left the practice of the faith, she still thought that the Eucharist was a wonderful “symbol.” Having heard enough, Flannery stated: I then said, in a very shaky voice, ‘Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.’ That was all the defense I was capable of but I realize now that this is all I will ever be able to say about it, outside of a story, except that it is the center of existence for me; all the rest of life is expendable.
May we have the same grace that Flannery O’Connor did to recognize just how vital the Eucharist is for us. The Eucharist has been the strength of martyrs, it has comforted the faithful over the centuries in the face of adversity, it is the source and summit of our life of faith, and the remedy for our mortality that will lead us to everlasting life.
Father Christopher House is the Rector-Pastor of the Cathedral and serves in various leadership roles within the diocesan curia, specifically Chancellor and Vicar Judicial.