Sunday, June 6, 2010


Today’s Solemnity (in most of the world moved from its traditional date of the Thursday after Trinity Sunday to this, the following Sunday) is a celebration of what we as Catholics hold most central and dear to our liturgical spirituality: the Eucharist.

The readings for Cycles A, B and C offer special Scriptural launching pads for our prayer on this day:

From Cycle A, we are reminded that we do not live on bread alone; that God feeds us with the finest wheat; that the blessing cup and the loaf are not only a participation in the Blood and Body of Christ but are intended to bring us into unity; that Jesus is the Bread of Life.

Cycle B teaches us about the blood of the original covenant at Sinai; it celebrates the ‘cup of salvation’ offered at the Passover commemoration of Exodus and Covenant; it reminds us of the high priesthood of Jesus; it makes explicit the connection of the Last Supper with the Passover.

Cycle C (this year’s readings) present us with the bread and wine of Melchizedek’s thank-offering to Abram; the tie-in with Melchizedek’s eternal priesthood; the institution of the Eucharist as St Paul presents it; and the foreshadowing of it through the multiplication of loaves for the thousands gathered to feast also on the Word.

Any one of these readings, much less all of them, could be the stuff of a good, sustained prayer of thankfulness for this Sacrament (which after all is named from the Greek word which gives us ‘thanksgiving’).

As a priest I must honestly admit that sometimes distractions afflict me in the course of the celebration of the Eucharist. I must also admit that there, at the altars of Word and Sacrament, I feel most ‘at home’ in my ordained ministry. Distractions, yes; boredom, no; not in 20 years of priestly life. I have only gratitude to God for so many gifts, including the gift of peace in my heart for my vocation (even when challenged and stressed out by daily circumstances).

It needs to be stated, too, that the Body to be “discerned” (I Corinthians 11:29—just past the excerpt selected for today’s 2nd reading) is not only the sacramental Body of Christ but also the Mystical Body, of which we are the members under His Headship. How do we live the Eucharist, beyond attending (hopefully, truly celebrating) church on Sunday?

If Jesus promises to be with us always (Matthew 28:16-20), He also says He will be found in the least of our brothers and sisters (Matthew 25:31-46). Are we ready to “worship” inside and outside the church?

As a prayerful bonus, I am adding below a setting of Panis Angelicus, and a less familiar setting of Ave, Verum Corpus, by Gabriel Faure, to celebrate the day. Enjoy, and blessed discerning of the Body to us all!


  1. Panis Angelicus - a beautiful favorite of ours. Jack loves to sing this one.