08 June 2012

'This is my body . . .' Sunday Reflections, Corpus Christi

La Disputà (Disputation of the Holy Sacrament), Raffaello Sanzio, painted 1510-11

You will find a description of this magnificent fresco here and a video on its restoration here.

The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA) 

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) 

Gospel Mark 14:12-16, 22-26 (Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition)

On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the passover lamb, his disciples said to him, "Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the passover?" And he sent two of his disciples, and said to them, "Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the householder, 'The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I am to eat the passover with my disciples?' And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us." And the disciples set out and went to the city, and found it as he had told them; and they prepared the passover. And as they were eating, he took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them, and said, "Take; this is my body." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it.  And he said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God." And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Pope Benedict leads Corpus Christi procession in Rome

‘As a primary school student, each Saturday I would play with my friends in our village but also made time for one hour’s adoration before the Blessed Sacrament in the local church. It was the custom in our village to have exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on Saturday afternoon and the Catholics would spend some time in prayer in the church.  I feel that my personal relationship with God has its origin in those hours before the Blessed Sacrament.’  [Emphasis added].

John Wang Zongshe is one of two young Chinese men who came to Manila a year ago to prepare to be Columban priests, the first candidates from that country. The original mission of the Columbans was China. John tells his vocation story, Life-giving Connections, in the current issue of Misyononline, the online magazine I edit for the Columbans here in the Philippines.

John is from a village that is one-third Catholic. but his companion Joseph Li Jiangang is from a village where all 800 inhabitants are Catholic.  Joseph, like John became involved actively in the life of the Church when he was young, as he writes in his vocation story, A Church with Room for All: The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary worked in our village and ran a medical clinic. In junior high school, one Sister got us together for religious education during our summer holidays, and at the age of eleven I began to know more about God.  I was born after the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) when so much religious practice had ceased. I used to sit at the back of the church when I went alone, but when I joined the youth group we would sit at the front. As a youth I went of my own free will to church.

At that time, I was timid and afraid to read in public. I became an altar server and at twelve I was leading the congregation in half an hour of prayers before Mass. I liked that and on returning from school I’d drop my bag and head for the church. [Emphasis added].

Joseph, John and Emmannuel Trocino, a Columban seminarian from Negros Occidental, on a recent visit to Australian Columban Fr Brian Gore at San Columbano Mission Center, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, under the watchful eye of St Columban.

The first Columbans went to China in 1920 to bring the Gospel to the millions there who had never heard of Jesus Christ. Fr Paddy O'Connor, one of the first students to join the Columbans and who was ordained in 1923, wrote a poem called The Splendid Cause, which became the Columban anthem for many years, in which he used the line To bring to the nations the sweet, white Host. For Father O'Connor the Eucharist was at the heart of mission. 

The Splendid Cause is also the title of a history of the Columbans from 1916 to 1954 by Columban Fr Neil Collins, who will be one of the speakers at the 50th International Eucharistic Congress being held in Dublin from 10 to 17 June. St Columbanus (Columban), the patron saint of the Society of St Columban,  is one of the patron saints of the Congress.

Recent polls and studies in Ireland indicate a great loss of faith, even though 84 percent in last year's census in the Republic of Ireland identified themselves as Catholics. (About 75 percent in the whole of Ireland would call themselves Catholics). Only about one third attend Mass every Sunday and a large percentage, especially of those who don't go to Mass regularly, don't believe that the bread and wine brought up at the offertory of the Mass become the Body and Blood of Christ at the Consecration. If they receive Holy Communion they believe they are receiving only a symbol.

It was a great love for the Mass and a desire to bring the Catholic Christian faith to the people of China that led two young Irish diocesan priests nearly 100 years ago, Fr Edward J. Galvin, later first Bishop of Hanyang, China, and Fr John Blowick to start what initially was 'The Maynooth Mission to China' and later became the Society of St Columban.

No Irish Columban has been ordained in the Third Millenium of Christianity nor are there any candidates at present. But the first two  seminarians from China, a country where the Church is still being harassed, a country from which Bishop Galvin and all other Columbans were expelled 60 years ago, some after having spent time in prison, have now joined us.

We just don't know God's plans. But absolutely central to the spirituality of Bishop Galvin was doing God's will. He cared little for the trappings of the office of bishop but insisted on his episcopal motto being Fiat voluntas tua, 'Your will be done'. He would surely be delighted that the call of John and John was awakened in communities focuses on the Eucharist.

The Columbans came to Manila in 1929 at the request of Archbishop Michael O'Doherty, an Irishman. One of the speakers at the Eucharistic Congress is his current successor, Manila-born Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle. He also spoke at the 49th International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City, Canada, in 2008.

Please pray that as the Church celebrates the Feast of Corpus Christ, the Body of Christ, which it has done already on Thursday in countries where it is still a holyday of obligation, and as the Archdiocese of Dublin hosts the Eucharistic Congress that there will be a renewal and deepening of faith in Ireland, a faith centred on the Eucharist, and that the Catholics of China, the Philippines and other countries where Irish missionaries have preached and lived the Gospel, may help re-evangelise the country that produced such missionary giants as St Columban 1,500 years ago and Edward Galvin and John Blowick a 100 years ago.

Lauda Sion Salvatorem
Sequence for Mass on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi

English Version

Sion, lift up thy voice and sing:
Praise thy Savior and thy King,
Praise with hymns thy shepherd true.
All thou canst, do thou endeavour:
Yet thy praise can equal never
Such as merits thy great King.
See today before us laid
The living and life-giving Bread,
Theme for praise and joy profound.
The same which at the sacred board
Was, by our incarnate Lord,
Giv'n to His Apostles round.
Let the praise be loud and high:
Sweet and tranquil be the joy
Felt today in every breast.
On this festival divine
Which records the origin
Of the glorious Eucharist.
On this table of the King,
Our new Paschal offering
Brings to end the olden rite.
Here, for empty shadows fled,
Is reality instead,
Here, instead of darkness, light.
His own act, at supper seated
Christ ordain'd to be repeated
In His memory divine;
Wherefore now, with adoration,
We, the host of our salvation,
Consecrate from bread and wine.
Hear, what holy Church maintaineth,
That the bread its substance changeth
Into Flesh, the wine to Blood.
Doth it pass thy comprehending?
Faith, the law of sight transcending
Leaps to things not understood.
Here beneath these signs are hidden
Priceless things, to sense forbidden,
Signs, not things, are all we see.
Flesh from bread, and Blood from wine,
Yet is Christ in either sign,
All entire, confessed to be.
They, who of Him here partake,
Sever not, nor rend, nor break:
But, entire, their Lord receive.
Whether one or thousands eat:
All receive the self-same meat:
Nor the less for others leave.
Both the wicked and the good
Eat of this celestial Food:
But with ends how opposite!
Here 't is life: and there 't is death:
The same, yet issuing to each
In a difference infinite.
Nor a single doubt retain,
When they break the Host in twain,
But that in each part remains
What was in the whole before.
Since the simple sign alone
Suffers change in state or form:
The signified remaining one
And the same for evermore.
Lo! bread of the Angels broken,
For us pilgrims food, and token
Of the promise by Christ spoken,
Children’s meat, to dogs denied.
Shewn in Isaac's dedication,
In the manna's preparation:
In the Paschal immolation,
In old types pre-signified.
Jesu, shepherd of the sheep:
Thou thy flock in safety keep,
Living bread, thy life supply:
Strengthen us, or else we die,
Fill us with celestial grace.
Thou, who feedest us below:
Source of all we have or know:
Grant that with Thy Saints above,
Sitting at the feast of love,
We may see Thee face to face.
Amen. Alleluia.

1 comment:

Ruth Ann Pilney said...

I'm very impressed with the stories of the two Chinese candidates. I never see young people at our parish Eucharistic adoration.

I enjoyed seeing the Corpus Christi procession. In '06 I was living in Rome for a few weeks and I participated in the outdoor Mass at St. John Lateran followed by the procession to St. Mary Major. It was altogether very moving, a highlight of my stay in Rome.

I will pray for Ireland's faith today.