May 27, 2005

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Families loving the Eucharist and learning about it

This weekend, the Church will celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, traditionally known as Corpus Christi Sunday.

It is a feast where the faithful give thanks in a special way for the abiding presence of Christ in our lives in the Eucharist. This has been embodied in part in the past by eucharistic processions in the streets around a parish.

At 3 p.m. on June 12, this kind of Corpus Christi eucharistic procession will happen at Victory Field in Indianapolis as part of “The Year of the Eucharist: Celebrating the Body of Christ.” It is an event where the faithful from across the archdiocese are invited to celebrate during the Year of the Eucharist this greatest of gifts that God gave to the Church.

A special part of the procession at Victory Field will be the participation of boys and girls from across the archdiocese who have celebrated their first Com-munion this year.

Our late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, announced the Year of the Eucharist in part to rekindle in us a love for the Body and Blood of Christ that we receive in Communion and before which we pray in adoration.

That love can be seen in a beautiful innocence in the children who will be in that procession on June 12.

The wide-eyed wonder of boys and girls celebrating their first Communion can be a great gift to parents for whom reception of the Blessed Sacrament is often taken for granted.

My oldest son, Michael, who just had his third birthday, is still several years away from his first Communion. But his own observation of what happens at Mass and his reaction to it has been a blessing to my wife and me.

He knows what his mommy and daddy are receiving is special and has asked us several times, “When can I have the Body of Christ?”

At home, he has a gold plastic cylinder with a top that has holes of different shapes through which he can place blocks that match those shapes.

From time to time, he’ll take the top off of it and carry it around. Coming up to his mother and me, he will take blocks out, hand them to us and say “the Body of Christ.”

And just a few months ago, in the middle of a Saturday afternoon lunch, he just blurted out, to the wonder of his parents, the mystery of faith, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”

Now clearly at his age, Michael does not understand the nature of the Eucharist in the way that it is explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. But he knows that it is special.

Many (but sadly not all) adult Catholics have an adequate knowledge of the Eucharist, but sometimes do not experience Holy Communion when they receive it as something to be revered.

The two are not mutually exclusive. We are invited both to learn more about this great gift and to foster the love for it that was planted in us when we were young.

Both of these aspects of our relationship to Jesus in the Eucharist can be nurtured in the life of faith lived in our homes.

And so on this year’s Corpus Christi Sunday in the Year of the Eucharist, I encourage all families to grab the opportunities that come to them each day in their life together (but especially this Sunday and on June 12 at Victory Field) to learn more about the Eucharist and to grow in our love for it. †


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