Thursday, June 9, 2016

Coming in Contact With the Risen Lord

Christians are blessed with being able to come into contact with the Risen Christ, most especially through the Sacraments and the Church's liturgy. As the Venerable Pope Pius XII wrote in Mystici Corporis Christi, “[T]he Savior of mankind out of His infinite goodness has provided in a wonderful way for His Mystical Body, endowing it with the Sacraments, so that, as though by an uninterrupted series of graces, its members should be sustained from birth to death, and that generous provision might be made for the social needs of the Church” (MC, 18). Vowing to never leave us as orphans (Jn 14:18), Jesus Christ is present to us in a most profound way through the Church's liturgical actions, such as in the person of His ministers, through the reading of Sacred Scripture, the Sacraments, and in the singing and prayers of the gathered People of God (SC, 7).

St. Augustine of Hippo wrote, “What the soul is for the body of man, that the Holy Spirit is for the body of Christ, that is, the Church” (Sermones, 267.4). The Sacraments are the actions of the Holy Spirit at work in his Body. “When the Sacraments of the Church are administered by external rite, it is [Christ] who produces their effect in souls” (MC, 51). Being justified through the Holy Spirit by baptism, we participate in Christ's passion, death, resurrection, and ascension (CCC, 1987-1988), becoming temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19) for the building up of the Body of Christ (Eph 4:11-12).

From the very beginning, God has longed to communicate with us, to be in a relationship with us, revealing himself over the centuries and guiding us through the Spirit. In our love and hunger for him, we are drawn to God through the sacred mysteries of the Church, participating in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which is the public worship of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ (SC, 7), “the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed [and] the font from which all her power flows” (SC, 10). Our earthly liturgy is an anticipation of eternal life, “when God will be all in all” (CCC, 1326); it is a foretaste of the heavenly liturgy (SC, 8), where as our High Priest, Jesus offers our worship to the Father, at the altar on high (Rev 8:3).

Christ, our Pasch, gives himself to us in a most profound and mysterious way through the gift of his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. “Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love...Let our adoration never cease” (CCC, 1380). This Bread come down from Heaven (Jn 6:51) always makes himself available to us. “The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it” (CCC, 1324). Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life (Jn 6:35), unites us with himself in Holy Communion, “that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us” (DW, Prayer of Humble Access). When we draw closer to God, he draws closer to us (Jas 4:8) “so that we become conformed to Jesus Christ, a member of his Body, one with him” (Benedict XVI, Homily of Corpus Christi), which not only unites us with our Lord, but also with one another:

Those who recognize Jesus in the sacred Host, recognize him in their suffering brother or sister, in those who hunger and thirst, who are strangers, naked, sick or in prison; and they are attentive to every person, they work in practice for all who are in need (ibid).

God is love (1 Jn 4:8) and he so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but may have eternal life (Jn 3:16). Through the Pascal Mystery of Jesus Christ, we are blessed with his presence in our lives, for our deification and salvation, that through his power we may be strengthened on our pilgrimage through this vale of tears. In the Sacraments of initiation – baptism, confirmation, and the Eucharist – we are fully incorporated into the holy priesthood of God's People. “Those who have been raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by Baptism and configured more deeply to Christ by Confirmation participate with the whole community in the Lord's own sacrifice by means of the Eucharist” (CCC, 1322). The Sacraments of healing – Confession and the Anointing of the Sick – bless us with further reconciliation with God when we are weakened due to the effects of our Original Fall. Through the Sacraments of Service – Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders – we are given grace to faithfully live out the Gospel in our particular state in life. We are hopeless and helpless without God, but through the Sacraments and liturgy, he has made himself always available to us, so that we may have life and have it abundantly (Jn 10:10).

References

Benedict XVI. (2011). Solemnity of Corpus Christ. Retrieved from https://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/homilies/2011/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20110623_corpus-domini.html

Catechism of the Catholic Church (2011). Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/ccc_toc.htm

Finigan, T. (2012). The Holy Spirit, the soul of the Church. Retrieved from http://the-hermeneutic-of-continuity.blogspot.com/2012/02/holy-spirit-soul-of-church.html

Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition. (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1966).

Paul VI. (1963). Sacrosanctum concilium. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19631204_sacrosanctum-concilium_en.html

Pius XII. (1943). Mystici Corporis Christi. Retrieved from http://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_29061943_mystici-corporis-christi.html

USCCB (2015). Holy See Confirms Divine Worship: The Missal For Ordinariates. Retrieved from http://www.usccb.org/about/divine-worship/newsletter/upload/newsletter-2015-10.pdf