Next Sunday, June 14, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, also known as Corpus Christi. Our parishes have been reopening public Masses for the past several weeks and now we are blessed with a feast day that focuses our attention even more on the gift of the Eucharist.
Due to the coronavirus, many of us experienced an extended Eucharistic fast. This has truly been a sacrifice. At the same time, I pray that such a prolonged period of deprivation may result in a renewed appreciation of this great gift.
This time of absence has caused me to try to see how God might use this for his own purposes. Here are a few thoughts in that regard.
First, this extended “fast” should give us a sense of solidarity with many places in the world where the faithful are deprived of the Eucharist due to their remote location and mission status. I recently spoke with a priest who told me of his work with the Maryknoll missionaries several years ago.
He and some other missionaries would go to remote villages in Bolivia. He stated that these villages would often go a year between Masses. The work they offered in support of the catechists and faithful included showing them how to continue the faith even when no Mass was available.
I know of priests who have vacationed in parts of Alaska. The local community would be notified upon their arrival so they could come together for the Mass. They do not have Mass unless a priest is able to come. Obviously, with such small numbers and few priests – the Mass is only an occasional experience for these villages.
Secondly, we should grow in our solidarity for those who are unable to consume the host or the Precious Blood due to medical issues or conditions. These people regularly make a spiritual communion since their circumstances prevent them from receiving our Lord in the Eucharist.
Another thought is that this experience might motivate us to promote priestly vocations with more intensity. On Saturday, June 6, I was privileged to ordain our now Father Jacob McDaniel. What a blessing to have a newly ordained priest. We need more priests if we want to ensure that the Eucharist remains readily available. Priestly vocations come from those men who have a deep love for the Eucharist.
My appreciation for the gift of the Eucharist was established when I was a young adult. I began to attend Mass almost every day. This pattern of regularly receiving Jesus laid an important foundation. My love for Jesus continued to grow and at age 30 years old I entered the seminary.
Finally, I pray that this time of absence of receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist will result in a greater Eucharistic piety in other ways, through Eucharistic adoration, Holy Hours, and making a visit to the tabernacle outside of Mass. These devotions can help sustain the faithful during all challenges, rooting our prayer life in Jesus.
Let’s celebrate Corpus Christi with greater fervor this year. More than any other year, let this prolonged absence of receiving our Lord in the Eucharist result in greater joy, now that the public celebration of the Mass is occurring once again throughout the diocese.
My love for our Diocese of Gary has continued to grow during these days as I desire to be among the faithful to receive our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. May we be renewed in our love for Jesus in the Eucharist and share that love with others.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
Jesus, I Trust in You!
The Most Reverend Robert J. McClory
Diocese of Gary