Life can seem so uncertain at times. The future is not completely ours to control. We do have the power of choice within reach, but there are always other factors outside of our control-health, politics, weather, finances, other people's decisions-that come into play. And so, it is normal to experience fear and anxiety. Jesus tells us, however, in this Sunday's gospel (Matthew 10:24-39), that we need not fear.
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
"Easier said than done!" you may respond. In telling us this, it is important to know that Jesus makes a promise. He is not simply wishing us well. He is not simply reminding that God, from on high, is thinking kind thoughts about us. He promises faithful presence. He promises us that we are held in God's embrace, that Providence precedes us on the journey. Let us also not forget that Providence involves us in one another's lives. The Christian life, although eminently personal, is also communal. We form the Body of Christ. We are not alone. God cares for us through one another. The packaging of the care may not correspond to what we had imagined! C'est la vie divine. God's mysterious ways... Let us be grateful for the gift of sisters and brothers with whom we are Church.
Yours in Christ,
Corpus Christi (Body of Christ) Sunday
This Sunday, in certain parts of the Universal Church, there is special celebration of the gift of the Eucharist, the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of our Lord. There has, of course, been celebration since the early Church. How could there not be? Jesus tells us in today’s gospel (John 6), “The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world”, and a few verses later, “The one who eats this bread will live forever.” If this is not reason to celebrate, I don’t know what is!
A more formal universal Feast of Corpus Christi was instituted by Pope Urban IV in 1264, partly at the insistence of a young Belgian nun, Saint Juliana of Lieges, whom he knew when he was archdeacon in her diocese. He declared, “Although the Eucharist is celebrated solemnly every day, we deem it fitting that at least once per year it be celebrated with greater honor and a solemn commemoration.”
St. Thomas Aquinas (+1274) wrote several hymns for this feast. He also composed a beautiful prayer for use before receiving Communion, which I share with you.
Almighty and Eternal God, behold I come to the sacrament of Your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. As one sick I come to the Physician of life; unclean, to the Fountain of mercy; blind, to the Light of eternal splendor; poor and needy to the Lord of heaven and earth. Therefore, I beg of You, through Your infinite mercy and generosity, heal my weakness, wash my uncleanness, give light to my blindness, enrich my poverty, and clothe my nakedness. May I thus receive the Bread of Angels, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, with such reverence and humility, contrition and devotion, purity and faith, purpose and intention, as shall aid my soul’s salvation.
Grant, I beg of You, that I may receive not only the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of our Lord, but also its full grace and power. Give me the grace, most merciful God, to receive the Body of your only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, in such a manner that I may deserve to be intimately united with His mystical Body and to be numbered among His members. Most loving Father, grant that I may behold for all eternity face to face Your beloved Son, whom now, on my pilgrimage, I am about to receive under the sacramental veil, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end.
Yours in Christ,
Elizabeth Catez was born in France in 1880, and grew up in Dijon. She entered the Carmelite monastery in Dijon in 1901. Her fascination with the Trinity led her to take the name Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity. She died in 1906 in her convent-at the age of 26-from Addison's disease. She composed a beautiful prayer to the Most Holy Trinity, a prayer full of humility and hope and awe and, above all, love. I share it with you for "Trinity Sunday".
O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me to become utterly forgetful of myself so that I may establish myself in you, as changeless and calm as though my soul were already in eternity. Let nothing disturb my peace nor draw me forth from you, O my unchanging God, but at every moment may I penetrate more deeply into the depths of your mystery. Give peace to my soul; make it your heaven, your cherished dwelling-place and the place of your repose. Let me never leave you there alone, but keep me there, wholly attentive, wholly alert in my faith, wholly adoring and fully given up to your creative action.
O my beloved Christ, crucified for love, I long to be the bride of your heart. I long to cover you with glory, to love you even unto death! Yet I sense my powerlessness and beg you to clothe me with yourself. Identify my soul with all the movements of your soul, submerge me, overwhelm me, substitute yourself for me, so that my life may become a reflection of your life. Come into me as Adorer, as Redeemer and as Savior.
O Eternal Word, utterance of my God, I want to spend my life listening to you, to become totally teachable so that I might learn all from you. Through all darkness, all emptiness, all powerlessness, I want to keep my eyes fixed on you and to remain under your great light. O my Beloved Star, so fascinate me that I may never be able to leave your radiance.
O Consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, overshadow me so that the Word may be, as it were incarnate again in my soul. May I be for him a new humanity in which he can renew all his mystery.
And you, O Father, stoop towards your poor little creature. Cover her with your shadow, see in her only your beloved son in who you are well pleased.
O my `Three', my All, my Beatitude, infinite Solitude, Immensity in which I lose myself, I surrender myself to you as your prey. Immerse yourself in me so that I may be immersed in you until I go to contemplate in your light the abyss of your splendor!
Yours in Christ,
This Sunday, we celebrate Pentecost. The term "pentecost" was adopted from Greek-speaking Jews, a term which means "fiftieth"-understood day. In Jewish territory, it designates the closing of harvest, the fiftieth day after Passover. In Christian territory, it designates the descent of the Holy Spirit in manifest fashion, which occurred on the Jewish feast of Pentecost, interestingly, fifty days after the Resurrection.
On Pentecost, however, we do not simply commemorate that unusual day when "the disciples were all together in one place" and heard and experienced a driving wind, followed by tongues of fire alighting on each of them (without a single hair catching fire!) We are, of course, thankful for that blessed day, for, because of it, we, Church, are here. This event is often considered to be the birth of the Church, for the Holy Spirit makes us church. We gather to experience the Holy Spirit, the Divine Fire, Third Person of the Trinity. Indeed, St. Paul reminds us (second reading, I Corinthians 12:13) that "we are all made to drink of the same Spirit." And, in the Gospel, Jesus says, "Receive the Holy Spirit." (John 20:22). The gift that Jesus communicates to all disciples is the Holy Spirit.
Oh, as will the clergy (visually to call upon the Holy Spirit) why not wear red this Sunday?
"Come Holy Spirit"...
From the desk of the Rector