Passion is renewed in a pledge of future glory
On Saturday, 13 June
, Cardinal John Patrick Foley, Grand Master, Order of the Holy
Sepulchre of Jerusalem, gave the following homily during a Mass
celebrated at the Archdiocese of Atlanta's annual Eucharistic Congress,
in which approximately 30,000 Catholics participated this year.
My brothers and sisters in Christ,
Just two days ago in Rome,
Pope Benedict XVI, continuing the tradition restored by his Predecessor,
Pope John Paul II, celebrated Mass in the square in front of his
Cathedral Basilica of St John Lateran in Rome and went in Eucharistic
procession from there to the Basilica of St Mary Major to mark the
Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ.
This beautiful feast, which
we celebrate today in thanksgiving for the Eucharist, a word which
itself means thanksgiving, had its origins in the Middle Ages.
A priest from Bohemia, in
the modern-day Czech Republic, was having doubts about the presence of
Christ in the Eucharist. He came to Rome on pilgrimage to pray that his
doubts might be dispelled
and apparently had no answer to his prayers. On the way back to Bohemia,
he stopped to offer Mass in the town of Bolsena and during that Mass, at
the breaking of the sacred host, blood poured from the broken host and
stained the corporal and the altar itself. Needless to say, the priest's
doubts were dispelled.
As a result of that miracle
of Bolsena, the corporal on which the Precious Blood has flowed was
brought to the Holy Father, who was at that time in residence in the
city of Orvieto. He summoned two great theologians, St Bonaventure and
St Thomas Aquinas, to prepare texts for a special Mass and divine office
for a feast he instituted, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of
Christ, which became popularly known as Corpus Christi. The
corporal with the stains of the Precious Blood was placed in a special
monstrance which can still be seen and venerated in a side chapel of the
Cathedral of Orvieto, and the purple stains still remain in the marble
of the church in Bolsena where the doubting priest celebrated his most
By the way, when the two
theologians brought their proposed texts to the Holy Father, St
Bonaventure told the Pope that the hymns written by St Thomas Aquinas
were so superior to his own efforts that they should be adopted in full
which the Pope proceeded to do.
Many of you are, I am sure,
familiar with the hymns written by St Thomas: the Pange Lingua,
which contains the Tantum Ergo; the O Salutaris Hostia:
and the Lauda Sion Salvatorem. These hymns are regularly sung,
either in their original Latin or in English translation, on Holy
Thursday, on this feast day, and at Benediction of the Blessed
St Thomas also wrote
another hymn, O Sacrum Convivium, which I personally recite every
day as part of my thanksgiving after Mass.
In English, that hymn
reads, "O Sacred Banquet, in which Christ is received, the memory of his
Passion is renewed, the soul is filled with grace and there is given to
us a pledge of future glory".
I would ask you to meditate
on these beautiful words which encapsulate what we believe about the
"O Sacred Banquet, in which
Christ is received"
the Eucharist is a meal, a sacred meal in which, by Christ's invitation,
we receive his Body and Blood for our spiritual nourishment.
"The memory of his Passion
Jesus, at the Last Supper, said "This is my Body, this is the cup of my
Blood, which will be given up for you. Do this in memory if me".
Referring to what would happen to himself on the next day, the first
Good Friday, Jesus gave to us on the first Holy Thursday a memorial of
his sacrifice, a vivid way of remembering what he was going to do for
us, giving his life on the Cross in reparation for our sins and for our
growth in intimacy with him, for our holiness.
"The soul is filled with
an exact translation would be, "The mind is filled with grace", which
really recalls two types of grace, sanctifying grace, which is a created
share in the inner life of love of God himself; and actual grace, the
continual promptings to do good and the helps to avoid evil which we are
fortunate to receive in our lives.
"There is given to us a
pledge of future glory"
in a very real sense, grace is the heaven we carry within us. Obviously,
when we receive Jesus in Holy Communion, we carry within ourselves the
Body and Blood of the God-man, our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ
whose very name means, "Anointed Savior". Since heaven is defined as
eternal life with God, our worthy reception of Holy Communion is, in a
very real sense, an anticipation of heaven, a pledge of our future
Another prayer which I
recite every day as part of my preparation for Communion is one which
recalls many truths about the Eucharist:
"O Jesus, I want you for my
sake, because I am nothing, because I am weak, because I am a sinner;
for your sake, that I may know you, love you and grow to be like you;
for the sake of others, that I may never do them harm, always do them
good and give you to them"
"Since you want me, dear
Jesus, take me: all that I have, all that I am and all that I can be".
In thanksgiving to God for
the magnificent gift of the Eucharist, may each of us offer to Jesus
each day all that we have, all that we are and all that we can be. In
this way, by God's grace, we can change the world.