23 June 2011

'I am the living bread . . .' Sunday Reflections. Corpus Christi, 26 June 2011

El Greco, Altarpiece, 1597-99

Readings (New American Bible, used in the Philippines and the USA)

Gospel John 6:51-58 (Jerusalem Bible, used in Australia, England & Wales, Ireland, Scotland)

Jesus said to the Jews:

‘I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever;
and the bread that I shall give is my flesh,
for the life of the world.’
Then the Jews started arguing with one another: ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ they said. Jesus replied:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you will not have life in you.
Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood
has eternal life,
and I shall raise him up on the last day.
For my flesh is real food
and my blood is real drink.
He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood
lives in me
and I live in him.
As I, who am sent by the living Father,
myself draw life from the Father,
so whoever eats me will draw life from me.
This is the bread come down from heaven;
not like the bread our ancestors ate:
they are dead,
but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.’

Soiscéal Eoin 6:51-58 (Gaeilge, Irish)

San am sin dúirt Íosa leis na sluaite:

Is mise an t-arán beo
a tháinig anuas ó neamh.
Má itheann duine an t-arán seo
mairfidh sé go deo, agus an t-arán a thabharfaidh mé uaim
is é m’fheoil é [a thabharfar] ar son bheatha an domhain.”
Bhí na Giúdaigh ansin ag aighneas le chéile á rá: “Conas is féidir don duine seo a fheoil
a thabhairt dúinn le hithe?”

Dúirt Íosa leo:

“Amen, Amen, a deirim libh,
mura n-íosfaidh sibh feoil Mhac an Duine,
agus a chuid fola a ól,
ní bheidh beatha agaibh ionaibh.
An té a itheann m’fheoil
agus a olann m’fhuil,
tá an bheatha shíoraí aige,
agus tógfaidh mé suas é an lá deireanach.
Is bia go fíor mo chuid feola
agus is deoch go fíor mo chuid fola.
An té a itheann m’fheoil agus a ólann m’fhuil
cónaíonn sé ionamsa agus cónaímse ann.
Amhail mar a chuir an tAthair beo mise uaidh,
agus mar is beo mise tríd an Athair,
mar an gcéanna, an té a itheann mise,
mairfidh sé tríom.
Is é seo an t-arán a tháinig anuas ó neamh.
Ní ionann is an manna ar ith bhur n-aithreacha é
agus go bhfuil siad marbh;
an té a itheann an t-arán seo,
mairfidh sé go deo.”


May I ask your prayers for myself and the four Columban seminarians to whom I am giving a retreat in Manila at the moment, 22-27 June, Tavite and Pat from Fiji and Adonis and Reggie from the Philippines.

Early in 1994 when I was parish priest in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, on the east coast of Mindanao, one of the volunteer catechists came and told me that her father was asking for 'the Bread of Life'. I learned that he had three families - he had been widowed twice - and children of this three wives, along with some of his grandchildren were in the house when I went to bring him the last sacraments.

He was fully alert and after I heard his confession he participated joyfully in the celebration of the sacrament of the sick and when he received Holy Communion. At the end of the ceremony I asked the members of his family who were nearest to him to place their hands on him. My idea was that they would pray for him individually. However, the dying man did something far more beautiful. He took one of his grandchildren, a babe in arms, and embraced the child. He then embraced each member of the family in turn.

It is not the practice in the Philippines to offer the priest something to eat when he makes a sick call but on this occasion the family had prepared a snack. There was such a palpable joy in the house that I felt it right and proper to eat.

The following morning the catechist came to tell me that her father had died.

This man understood the meaning of today's gospel and of today's feast, called now in English the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, though Corpus Christi is still the most common name. I think that all predominantly English-speaking countries have now transferred the feast from Thursday to the following Sunday.

Pope Urban IV asked St Thomas Aquinas to compose the sequence sung at Mass today, Lauda Sion Salvatorem. The hymn gives very clearly the teaching of the Church on the Eucharist. Here is one example:

Dogma datur Christiánis,
Quod in carnem transit panis,
Et vinum in sánguinem.
Hear, what holy Church maintaineth,
That the bread its substance changeth
Into Flesh, the wine to Blood.

I shudder when I hear people tell me that they received 'the wine' when Holy Communion is given under both kinds. I shudder even more when I hear priests refer to the Precious Blood as 'the wine'. As often as I can I remind people at Mass what the Catechism of the Catholic Church, No 1333 teaches: At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ's Body and Blood.

The Body and Blood of Christ that we receive are the sustenance we need as individuals and as Church to follow Jesus faithfully and, if necessary, to shed our own blood so that others might know the Risen Lord. Fr Ragheed Ganni, martyred on 3 June 2007 just after he had celebrated Mass in Mosul, said not long before his death, Without Sunday, without the Eucharist the Christians in Iraq cannot survive.

Nor can Christians or the Church anywhere else.

Lauda Sion Salvatorem, St Thomas Aquinas, c1264 at the request of Pope Urban IV

Latin text English translation

Lauda Sion Salvatórem
Lauda ducem et pastórem
in hymnis et cánticis.
Sion, lift up thy voice and sing:
Praise thy Savior and thy King,
Praise with hymns thy shepherd true

Quantum potes, tantum aude:
Quia major omni laude,
Nec laudáre súfficis.
All thou canst, do thou endeavour:
Yet thy praise can equal never
Such as merits thy great King.

Laudis thema speciális,
Panis vivus et vitális,
Hódie propónitur.
See today before us laid
The living and life-giving Bread,
Theme for praise and joy profound.

Quem in sacræ mensa cœnæ,
Turbæ fratrum duodénæ
Datum non ambígitur.
The same which at the sacred board
Was, by our incarnate Lord,
Giv'n to His Apostles round.

Sit laus plena, sit sonóra,
Sit jucúnda, sit decóra
Mentis jubilátio.
Let the praise be loud and high:
Sweet and tranquil be the joy
Felt today in every breast.

Dies enim solémnis ágitur,
In qua mensæ prima recólitur
Hujus institútio.
On this festival divine
Which records the origin
Of the glorious Eucharist.

In hac mensa novi Regis,
Novum Pascha novæ legis,
Phase vetus términat.
On this table of the King,
Our new Paschal offering
Brings to end the olden rite.

Vetustátem nóvitas,
Umbram fugat véritas,
Noctem lux elíminat.
Here, for empty shadows fled,
Is reality instead,
Here, instead of darkness, light.

Quod in cœna Christus gessit,
Faciéndum hoc expréssit
In sui memóriam.
His own act, at supper seated
Christ ordain'd to be repeated
In His memory divine;

Docti sacris institútis,
Panem, vinum, in salútis
Consecrámus hóstiam.
Wherefore now, with adoration,
We, the host of our salvation,
Consecrate from bread and wine

Dogma datur Christiánis,
Quod in carnem transit panis,
Et vinum in sánguinem.
Hear, what holy Church maintaineth,
That the bread its substance changeth
Into Flesh, the wine to Blood

Quod non capis, quod non vides,
Animósa firmat fides,
Præter rerum ordinem.
Doth it pass thy comprehending?
Faith, the law of sight transcending
Leaps to things not understood.

Sub divérsis speciébus,
Signis tantum, et non rebus,
Latent res exímiæ.
Here beneath these signs are hidden
Priceless things, to sense forbidden,
Signs, not things, are all we see

Caro cibus, sanguis potus:
Manet tamen Christus totus,
Sub utráque spécie.
Flesh from bread, and Blood from wine,
Yet is Christ in either sign,
All entire, confessed to be.

A suménte non concísus,
Non confráctus, non divísus:
Integer accípitur.
They, who of Him here partake,
Sever not, nor rend, nor break:
But, entire, their Lord receive.

Sumit unus, sumunt mille:
Quantum isti, tantum ille:
Nec sumptus consúmitur.
Whether one or thousands eat:
All receive the self-same meat:
Nor the less for others leave.

Sumunt boni, sumunt mali:
Sorte tamen inæquáli,
Vitæ vel intéritus.
Both the wicked and the good
Eat of this celestial Food:
But with ends how opposite!

Mors est malis, vita bonis:
Vide paris sumptiónis
Quam sit dispar éxitus.
Here 't is life: and there 't is death:
The same, yet issuing to each
In a difference infinite

Fracto demum Sacraménto,
Ne vacílles, sed memento,
Tantum esse sub fragménto,
Nor a single doubt retain,
When they break the Host in twain,
But that in each part remains

Quantum toto tégitur.
Nulla rei fit scissúra:
Signi tantum fit fractúra:
What was in the whole before.
Since the simple sign alone
Suffers change in state or form:

Qua nec status nec statúra
Signáti minúitur.
Ecce panis Angelórum,
The signified remaining one
And the same for evermore.
Lo! bread of the Angels broken,

Factus cibus viatórum:
Vere panis fíliórum,
Non mittendus cánibus.
For us pilgrims food, and token
Of the promise by Christ spoken,
Children’s meat, to dogs denied.

In figúris præsignátur,
Cum Isaac immolátur:
Agnus paschæ deputátur
Shewn in Isaac's dedication,
In the manna's preparation:
In the Paschal immolation

Datur manna pátribus.
Bone pastor, panis vere,
Jesu, nostri miserére:
In old types pre-signified.
Jesu, shepherd of the sheep:
Thou thy flock in safety keep,

Tu nos pasce, nos tuére:
Tu nos bona fac vidére
In terra vivéntium.
Living bread, thy life supply:
Strengthen us, or else we die,
Fill us with celestial grace.

Tu, qui cuncta scis et vales:
Qui nos pascis hic mortales:
Tuos ibi commensáles,
Thou, who feedest us below:
Source of all we have or know:
Grant that with Thy Saints above,

Cohærédes et sodales,
Fac sanctórum cívium.
Amen. Allelúja.
Sitting at the feast of love,
We may see Thee face to face.
Amen. Alleluia.

Yo Soy el Pan de Vida, I am the Bread of Life Words: Suzanne Toolan, Music: John Michael Talbot
Most of us are familiar with this modern hymn, based on today's gospel. The video is of a Spanish version.

1 comment:

Crux Fidelis said...

I think it a great pity that this solemnity has been transferred to the Sunday. Same goes for the Epiphant. Fortunately, here in Scotland, Ascension is still celebrated on the Thursday.