Corpus Christi Procession - Wikimedia Commons

Archbishop Follo: Bread of pilgrims

With the invitation to adore and eat the Body of Christ in order to have His life in us and share it with our neighbor.

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Corpus Christi – Year B – June 3, 2018
Roman Rite
Ex 24: 3-8; Ps 116; Heb 9, 11-15; Mk 14: 12-16. 22-26.
Corpus Christi
Ambrosian Rite
Sir 16.24 to 30; Ps 148; Rm 1.16 to 21; Lk 12.22 to 31
Second Sunday of Pentecost
1) Presence in the world, to save
On this Sunday in which we celebrate Corpus Christi[1], the feast of praise and thanksgiving, the Church not only celebrates the Eucharist but solemnly takes it in procession proclaiming publicly that the sacrifice of Christ is for the salvation of the whole world. We must bring Christ on the roads of the world, because He whom the fragile veil of the Host species hides came to earth just to be “the life of the world” (Jn 6: 51).
With this procession we become announcers therefore “missionaries”, and people with a holy goal, namely “pilgrims”.
We are missionaries because walking together united around the body of the One who is the Lord of the universe and of history, we bring Christ to the world and with him the announcement of the peace he has left to us and that the world cannot give. Our Eucharistic procession allows us to witness with humble joy that in the little white Host, which the priest leads devoutly, is the answer to the most pressing questions. There is the comfort for every most excruciating pain. There is the pledge for the fulfillment of that burning thirst for happiness and love that everyone carries inside, in this secret heart.
We are pilgrims because we go toward the eternal heavenly home. We are pilgrims, not only for the restlessness of the eternal that we possess together with every human being, but by vocation.   Christ calls us to share his friendship and his mission. We are not alone on our pilgrimage: we walk with Christ, the Pilgrim that renews God’s presence on the roads of the world, the Pilgrim with pilgrims on the road to Emmaus. Emmaus means the place where Christ broke himself as the Bread of life, the bread of angels, the bread of pilgrims, “panis angelorum, factus cibus viatorum ” (Sequence of today’s Mass), that gives us the strength to continue the journey with Him, for Him and in Him.
To be able to make the journey of life, represented by today procession, we must feed on the Eucharist, this bread of the angels who became food for men hungry for truth, love and freedom.
Amazed at the great closeness of Christ who dwells in our Churches, is in our hands and is longing to dwell in us, we just have to take as food Him, who “took our flesh and our blood so that His flesh and His blood could be our life “(Card. John Henri Newman).
Let us have the same amazement of the Virgin Mary who contemplated with an ecstatic look the face of Christ in Bethlehem as well as in Jerusalem. From the Cradle to the Cross, Our Lady did not stop looking with loving faith at the face of the Son and holding it with pity in her arms at birth and at his death. May our heavenly Mother be the model of love which should inspire our worship of the Eucharist. In this way we will experience that the Eucharist is not a simple devotional gesture, but a gesture of life and that affects the life.
 2) Present in the PRESENCE.
The mystery[2] of the Eucharist has three aspects: sacrifice, communion and presence. The Feast of the Body of the Lord celebrates a particular aspect, that of the real presence. We cannot and we should not separate the three aspects peculiar to this mystery. However that does not prevent us today to reflect primarily on the mystery of the real presence so that we can be present in this Presence who gives himself completely to us.
“Every time we make an act of faith in the Real Presence of Christ we make a gesture that is superior to the one of the people of Israel that has walked across the Red Sea. There, Israel ran from the land of exile to a land of freedom. Thus, we go from this world to the Father’s world thanks to the Eucharist”. (Brother Divo Barsotti).
On 15 October 2013, in a meeting of Pope Benedict XVI with some children making their First Communion, one of them, Andrea, asked the question “My catechist, preparing me for the day of my First Communion, told me that Jesus is present in the Eucharist. I do not see him. “Benedict XVI replied: “Yes, we do not see, but there are many things we do not see that exist and are essential. For example, we do not see our reason, yet we have reason. We do not see our intelligence and we have it. We don’t see our soul and yet it exists and we see its effects, because we can speak, think, decide … Nor do we see, for example, electricity and yet we see that it exists. We see how this microphone works, we see lights. In a word the very deepest things, that really things that sustain life and the world, we do not see, but we can see and feel their effects. Electricity we do not see, but we see light. And so on. And so even the risen Lord we do not see with our eyes, but we see that wherever Jesus is, people change, improve. It creates a greater capacity for peace, reconciliation … We do not see the Lord himself but we see the effects and in this way we can understand that Jesus is present. Let us go to meet this invisible but strong God that helps us to live well “.
The core of Benedict XVI’s answer really hits the mark “Indeed the things invisible are the most profound and important.” Ultimately, it is the secret the fox reveals to the Little Prince of the beautiful story of Antoine de Saint-Exupery “Here is my secret. It is very simple: one sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye “[3].
A few lines above I’ve proposed the Virgin Mary as a model of a person adoring the Present, the Son of God who had taken her flesh. Now I propose another example: Mary Magdalene.  Let’s be present to Christ in the tabernacle in the same way this woman showed up at the feet of the Lord and listened to his teaching (Lk 10, 39). She certainly was glad to see Jesus more than to listen to his words. His holy face, his eyes, his smile, his forgiveness touched the heart of Mary Magdalene. Jesus is the same in the Most Holy Sacrament. Just let us be at his feet like Mary in the joy of being with Him.
There is also the example of the farmer, a parishioner of the Curé of Ars. This simple and humble worker of the earth after a day in the fields was in the church looking at the tabernacle without opening his mouth. When asked by his Holy priest “What do you say at this time of worship?” the farmer answered “I look at Him and He looks at me.” When Jesus looks at a soul, He gives to it his likeness – said St. Teresa of Avila – but this soul must not stop to fix his gaze on Him. When St. Peter, walking on the water, took off his eyes from Christ to watch the storm, he began to sink. Peter learned the lesson and teaches us today to keep our eyes on the face of the Lord “as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Pet 1: 19). If we give time to Christ in prayer and, in particular, in worship we will receive as a gift Christ himself who reaches out and pulls us out of the water in which we are drowning.
“The adoration is essentially an embrace with Jesus in which I say ‘I am yours and I beg you also to be with me'” (Benedict XVI). The adoration of the Sacrament is always the preparation and the thanksgiving of Mass. It is the moment par excellence in which we develop and we make grow in us the complete donation of ourselves. In fact, the significance of the Eucharistic adoration is not just to kneel in front of the presence of Christ in the sacrament, but also to unite us to the offering pure and perfect of our Savior. The adoration of the Eucharist gives us the desire and the strength to put ourselves without hesitation in the hands of God, in total and happy abandonment in Him.
An example of this offering of self comes from the consecrated Virgins in the world. These women experience with their life what their heart believes and loves. They show that it is possible to live in a Eucharistic way through their total offering to Christ – Eucharistic Spouse. These women testify that every consecration to the Lord must always express themselves by the full offering of self.  the Eucharistic mystery also has an intrinsic relationship to consecrated virginity, in as much as the latter is an expression of the Church’s exclusive devotion to Christ, whom she accepts as her Bridegroom with a radical and fruitful fidelity.(227 In the Eucharist, consecrated virginity finds inspiration and nourishment for its complete dedication to Christ. “(Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, 81).
With a life that is nourished by the Body of Christ, the consecrated women show that virginity is not only the ability to offer themselves completely as a gift to God, but to accept the gift of God, the choice of God.
With their life nourished by the Eucharist, they are visible witnesses of the love of the invisible God in the simplicity of everyday life showing that human life can become Eucharist. They show that prayer becomes life and life becomes prayer
Spiritual Reading
Saint Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church
(Opusculum 57, in festo Corporis Christi, lect. 1-4) 

O precious and wonderful banquet!
Since it was the will of God’s only-begotten Son that men should share in his divinity, he assumed our nature in order that by becoming man he might make men gods. Moreover, when he took our flesh he dedicated the whole of its substance to our salvation. He offered his body to God the Father on the altar of the cross as a sacrifice for our reconciliation. He shed his blood for our ransom and purification, so that we might be redeemed from our wretched state of bondage and cleansed from all sin. But to ensure that the memory of so great a gift would abide with us forever, he left his body as food and his blood as drink for the faithful to consume in the form of bread and wine.
O precious and wonderful banquet that brings us salvation and contains all sweetness! Could anything be of more intrinsic value? Under the old law it was the flesh of calves and goats that was offered, but here Christ himself, the true God, is set before us as our food. What could be more wonderful than this? No other sacrament has greater healing power; through it sins are purged away, virtues are increased, and the soul is enriched with an abundance of every spiritual gift. It is offered in the Church for the living and the dead, so that what was instituted for the salvation of all may be for the benefit of all. Yet, in the end, no one can fully express the sweetness of this sacrament, in which spiritual delight is tasted at its very source, and in which we renew the memory of that surpassing love for us which Christ revealed in his passion.
It was to impress the vastness of this love more firmly upon the hearts of the faithful that our Lord instituted this sacrament at the Last Supper. As he was on the point of leaving the world to go to the Father, after celebrating the Passover with his disciples, he left it as a perpetual memorial of his passion. It was the fulfillment of ancient figures and the greatest of all his miracles, while for those who were to experience the sorrow of his departure, it was destined to be a unique and abiding consolation.
[1] This festivity, in its historical form, was founded in the 13th century and has developed widely in the Catholic communities around the world. However, the beginning of this fest can be seen already in the first “procession” made of the apostles, who surrounded Christ and, taking him in their hearts as the Eucharist, exited the Upper Room to go to the Mount of Olives. It was Holy Thursday.
[2] For those who believe, “mystery” is not something dark, where there is nothing to understand. On the contrary, it is something very deep, where there is always something new to discover, and of which we can never say to have reached the bottom.
[3] Antoine de Saint-Exupery, “The little Prince”

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Archbishop Francesco Follo

Monsignor Francesco Follo è osservatore permanente della Santa Sede presso l'UNESCO a Parigi.

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