Pastoral Message – June 6, 2021

Pastoral Message – June 6, 2021

Have you ever asked why we have the special feast of the Body and Blood of Christ although we have the Eucharist every day?

As I looked up the history of the feast, I discovered an interesting story of how the feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus came into being. In 1263, there was a priest named Peter of Prague who was having doubts of faith about the real presence of the Holy Eucharist. He couldn’t believe that the bread and the wine actually became the body and the blood of Jesus. He experienced doubts and struggled with this teaching of faith. Then one day while he was celebrating Mass and at the time of consecration,

still struggling with this teaching, he received a sign from God to help his unbelief. When he held up the Host, he saw the Host start to drip blood and stain the corporal. He was very shaken by this incident and went to the Pope, who was Pope Urban IV at that time. He told the Pope about his doubts and what happened at the church. The Pope then sent some of his cardinals to the church to get the blood-stained corporal to be examined. After some investigations, in 1264, Pope Urban IV declared the feast The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. The popular name for this feast is the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, which translates from Latin to “Body of Christ” for remembering that the Eucharist is the real presence of the Body and the Blood of Christ. Today, if you have a chance to go to Italy and visit the Cathedral of Orvieto, the corporal bearing the spots of blood of Christ is still displayed inside this Cathedral.

Nowadays, living in the world of technology and science, many of us have difficulties understanding and believing in the real presence of the Holy Eucharist. Allow me to share a simple comparison to help us understand the real presence of the Body and the Blood of Christ is absolutely possible. When we eat and drink, the food and the liquids are transformed to nutrition and energy to help our body grow and be nourished. If our body, as a wonderful machine, can transform food and drinks to different substances to nourish the body, why would it not possible for God to transform bread and wine into the real Body and Blood of Christ?

Today we celebrate the feast of the Body and the Blood of Christ; it is the opportunity to reflect on the great gift of the Eucharist. In the early Church, there was a man named Saint Justin Martyr who described how the early Christians received the Holy Eucharist. He said, “they put their hands together and made a throne as if they were to receive a king.” And guess what? We still do that till these days when receiving the Body of Christ. St. Augustine also said that it will be appropriate for the minister to say, “Receive what you are, and become what you receive.” By this, Augustine teaches that the one who receives the Eucharist is, in a sense, already the Body of Christ and, by receiving, will be more Christ-like.

Blessings and peace be with you!
Fr. Thanh-Tai


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