"O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine!"
What is the one thing most necessary in life? What is the one thing for which you spend the most time, money and effort?
Authentic Christianity brings unity and integrity to living. Profession of faith in Christ requires integrity between one's words and actions. Idolatry brings conflict into the life of man, such that he is divided between God, the one thing necessary, and false gods which are all those things which replace God in his day to day life.
In order to survive with faith intact and to live the truths of faith, Christian men and women today must fight against the idolatries of career, money, materialism; in short, "having it all." Of all the things we "have" do we place first that which alone will last?
Persons beyond counting have chased after fame, only to have it elude their grasp. Others have given all in search of wealth only to find they were dissatisfied without the "pearl of great price". Some have burned themselves out pursuing pleasure divorced from authentic love and then fallen into the despair brought by emptiness and loneliness.
Some have triumphed over the world by giving body and soul for the one thing necessary: the Lord Jesus Christ. The martyrs are signs to the world of the madness of laying down one's life, the supreme offering of love, in order to take it up again in heavenly glory. There are more martyrs for the faith in our own century than any preceding it. Most recent among these are 17 Catholic schoolchildren with their teaching sister in Zaire who, as witnesses to Christ's love, refused to reveal their tribal identities to murderous agents of genocide and as a result offered their lives for Christ.
All martyrdom comes from a heroic faith whereby man professes Christ as the one thing necessary. By the virtues of hope and charity the Christian imitates the Lord, even unto laying down his life if called by God. The martyrs of today take a glorious place among the great host of witnesses beginning with St. Stephen and the Roman Martyrs. How did these men and women find the power and the strength to choose God's will as Christ did and to lay down their lives? A little child leads us. The young boy St.Tarcisius was bearing the Eucharist to the sick in ancient Rome and chose to die rather than surrender the Body of the Lord to his ancient pagan persecutors. He is one of the many patrons of the Eucharist who witness to us of its inexhaustible treasures of grace which serve to strengthen us when called to witness to God's sovereignty.
It is in the death of the Lord himself that all the martyrs have found their greatest source of strength. The Eucharist is the great memorial of the Lord's passion and death. Much more, the risen Easter Christ is present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity therein. The Blessed Sacrament is the most effective source of God's grace by which we live as witnesses for generosity among the selfish, for reverence among the irreverent, for faith among the doubting, for hope among the despairing and for heroic love among the murderous and hateful.
"In an ancient prayer the Church acclaims the mystery of the Eucharist: 'O sacred banquet in which Christ is received as food, the memory of his Passion is renewed, the soul is filled with grace and a pledge of the life to come is given to us.' If the Eucharist is the memorial of the Passover of the Lord Jesus, if by our communion at the altar we are filled "with every heavenly blessing and grace,' (Roman Canon: supplices te rogamus) then the Eucharist is also an anticipation of heavenly glory." (CCC 1402)
Today after Mass we will adore our Lord, in union with the universal Church, with the customary procession and benediction for the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, or, in Latin, "Corpus Christi". By this public act of praise and adoration we call the whole world to fall down in homage before the Savior, most humbly and sacrificially present in the sacred host.
What is the one thing most necessary? Jesus Christ truly present in the Eucharist. Will you spend one hour with him this week?
I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick
Meeting Christ in the Liturgy (Publish with permission.)
(For further reading on the Eucharist in the Catechism of the Catholic Church see paragraphs 1322 and following.)