In John’s gospel Jesus says: “[T]he bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (John 6:51) Those who heard this asked, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (John 6:52) The answer to that question would come on the night before he died, when Jesus took bread and said: “Take it; this is my body”; and he took a cup of wine and said: “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.” (Today’s Gospel) His flesh and blood become true food and drink for us by retaining the palatable appearances of ordinary bread and wine.
This is the mystery and article of faith we celebrate today. It is a sad fact that some surveys say that as many as 80% of Catholics do not believe that the eucharist is really the Body and Blood of Christ. Yet this is one of the most ancient of Catholic doctrines based upon the words of the Lord himself. Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, who died in 386, said in his Jerusalem Catecheses: “Since Christ himself has declared the bread to be his body, who can have any further doubt? Since he himself has said quite categorically, ‘This is my blood,’ who would dare to question it and say that it is not his blood?” He goes on to say: “Do not then regard the eucharistic elements as ordinary bread and wine: they are in fact the body and blood of the Lord, as he himself has declared. Whatever your senses may tell you, be strong in faith.” One translation of the hymn Tantum Ergo of Saint Thomas Aquinas says: “Senses cannot grasp this marvel; faith alone must compensate.”
This Sunday we have an opportunity to honor the Lord’s presence in the Blessed Sacrament by taking part in a procession from Saint Charles Church to Holy Ghost, which will begin with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at 12:30 PM. This eucharistic procession gives us a chance to give public witness to our belief in the real and abiding presence of Christ in the eucharist. It is a marvelous experience for all who participate in the procession and for those who witness it along the way. It is also a great opportunity for families, especially for children, to experience together this extraordinary event and to experience in a different way our Catholic faith and tradition.
In a few weeks our diocese will celebrate the ordination of three new priests—one of whom, Timothy Reither, is from St. Charles. While attendance at the ordination on June 26 is limited, all are welcome to his First Mass of Thanksgiving to be celebrated at St. Charles on Sunday, June 27, at 3:30 PM. A reception will follow at Lilydale Event Venue. For planning purposes, please notify the rectory as soon as possible if you plan to attend the reception and dinner.
Please remember that our parishes’ fiscal year ends on June 30. It is important that we reach our targets for the Diocesan Annual Appeal by then. St. Charles has $5,959 to go and St. Peter has $3,475 to go to reach their targets. Both parishes have about 20 less donors than last year. While I anticipate ending the fiscal year with all other parish bills paid, I hope these targets can be reached in time. This is a responsibility we should all share. If you have not yet given to the Appeal, please consider doing so now. There are forms in the entryways of both churches and gifts can also be made online at <www.stcharles-cf.com>.
Please pray the rosary this week for the safety of children on summer vacation and for families who are traveling. Pray for people who are unemployed, that they may find jobs. Pray for our seminarians and the men soon to be ordained priests; and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.