All posts tagged: Eucharist

The Politics of the Saints

Next week, the endless campaign will finally be over. At some point on Tuesday, November 8 (or early on November 9th), it’s likely that the United States will have a new President. While many will celebrate the election of whichever candidate becomes President, many Americans (especially during this polarizing election) will walk away dispirited. They will wonder to themselves: is this the best that our body politic can offer? Is this campaign the denouement of our Republic or at least of my particular political party? Will the unity that I desire, the domestic peace that I hope for, ever come? Such questions are not simply representative of the naive hopes of those who long for some political utopia. This desire for true peace, true righteousness, true justice, is written upon the human heart. Our disappointment in politics as normal is not evidence that we are inadequate realists; that we have fallen prey to Angelism, seeing the human being existing outside of the realm of sin and death. It’s that we are made for something more than …

What You Should Say to Parents at First Communion

Recently, a former student of mine contacted me for a couple of words that I would want to share with parents of children who are about to receive their First Communion. I thought that I might share these words with all those directors of religious education and sacramental preparation as they begin to hold First Communion sessions in their parishes and dioceses:  Dear parents, What a joy to be with you here this evening. We at the parish are supremely happy to have your child with us this year as he or she prepares to receive their first Communion. Of course, we don’t have to point out to you that your child is a gift. You know this most of all. You have held your newborn son or daughter in your arms. You have laughed at their earliest attempts to dance in the living room, bouncing up and down with joy. You have delighted in their developing sense of humor. You love them. And they serve for you as a daily reminder of the joyful gift of …

The Hospitality of God

Jesus has come into the world to throw a party. It’s a party unlike any other that’s been held. See, when I throw a party, I want to have the right people present. I want the key friends, who need to be impressed by my keen aesthetic sense. I want important people, who should be overwhelmed by my hospitality because then I’ll be invited to their house where I can meet other important people. Jesus’ party is different, because it embodies the hospitality of God: “‘When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor . . . when you are invited, go and take the lowest place’” (Lk 14:8, 10). Jesus notes that if indeed the bridegroom seeks to have you at the first place at the table, you’ll be invited. But don’t presume it. Be happy to be present at all. If the parable simply ended there, then it would be very good advice for attending a party; a way to avoid appearing …

Confessions of a Post-‘Rad Trad’ Millennial: The Perfect Sacrifice

I grew up in a parish that was very much steeped in the “Spirit of Vatican II”: our priests used glass chalices, wore their stoles over their chasubles, and there wasn’t a Sunday in Ordinary Time when we didn’t sway to the beat of a rousing song. For the most part, I had good liturgical formation growing up. While many abuses perdured, my pastor had a keen penchant for “good liturgy.” When I started working at Holy Name Cathedral as a high school seminarian, I knew much of the hardware of liturgy. It should be no surprise then, that when I was introduced to what the Church now calls the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, I was enamored by its beauty and elaborate ritual. As the self-appointed liturgical constable for the high school seminary, I came close to putting myself in schism, seeing the “new Mass” of Vatican II as a radical departure from what preceded it. This mindset followed me throughout college when I was part of the Latin Mass Society of Quincy, …

The Pedagogy of Faith

Blessed be God! During my Dad’s final years of life, he was unable to communicate through the gift of voice.[1] A victim of Alzheimer’s disease, Dad’s voice suddenly departed a few years before he died. Other family members, already Dad’s advocates, became Dad’s voice in new and distinctive ways. His own vocal expressions were gone but Dad, child of God, was not. I am convinced that Dad communicated during his last years through the gift of sight. On the day he died, his eyes scanned the room where he lay, focusing intently on each of the family members gathered around his bed. Dad, even in the moments leading up to physical death, continued to “speak” to us. He continued to proclaim the goodness of God. In today’s language, we might identify him as an emissary of the New Evangelization. Faith in God, the one true God of all who reveals himself to us, is faith that enables us to proclaim in word and action, in thought and look, in Gospel and glance, the goodness and …

The Carnival of Corpus Christi

In late medieval culture, the feast of Corpus Christi was an occasion for a carnival-esque celebration. Plays were performed throughout the city, remembering the entirety of salvation history. Processions unfolded upon beds of roses, as prince and pauper alike praised the sacrament of the Eucharist. Why was this feast so important that it merited this degree of festivity? After all, in some ways, it’s strange to celebrate a feast for the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Isn’t every Sunday a celebration of Christ’s Body and Blood? Can we not feast upon God’s flesh and blood every day in our parish? Yet setting aside a feast for Corpus Christi enables us to meditate upon the sublime gift of the Eucharist. Already in the Old Testament, we see this sacrament prefigured in Melchizedek’s offering of bread and wine: “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, the creator of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who delivered your foes into your hand” (Gen 14:19–20). A sacrifice of thanksgiving for God’s victory over his enemies is offered …

Attaining the Love that Goes Beyond Feelings

Francis, in his first major interview as Pope, spoke of his admiration for the early Jesuit Peter Faber, whom he would soon declare a saint. Since you can tell a lot about a man by his friends—including his friends in heaven—I began to read Faber’s spiritual diary, the Memoriale, to see what it might tell me about Francis’ spirituality. It was a revelation. I found in Faber a man who had many of the same vulnerabilities as me. He battled anxiety, depression, and temptations to sin. Learning how he conquered those weaknesses helped me to better fight my own spiritual battles. In the Memoriale entry for December 25, 1542, as Faber writes about celebrating midnight Mass, we see that he began Christmas Day in a state of sadness. He had hoped to receive Jesus in the Eucharist with feelings of Christmas joy. Instead, he writes, “I was feeling cold before Communion and was grieved that my dwelling was not better prepared.” Just as he was thinking those thoughts, a feeling of consolation came to him with such suddenness that he knew it could only be a gift from above. “I received this answer accompanied by …

The Mass for Millennials: Prayers After Communion

“Stick-to-itiveness is one of the more inelegant words in the English language, but I have a special fondness for it. … I have also found that it is one of the marks of Christian discipleship and have learned to admire those who exemplify it.” Eugene H. Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society There are at least three streams of cultural influence working against young Christians who desire stick-to-itiveness—who want their faith to have true staying power. The first stream is the cultural influence of the status-quo, which insists that a life of faith is mostly confined to young students and parents of children. If you have spent any time leading or participating in youth ministry in the past few decades, you know the statistics. After high school, church attendance drops significantly. And it tends to stay there for a while, at least until you get married and have kids and want to raise them “properly.” The second stream is our general hurried pace, and our celebration of this …

King of the Cosmos

The feast of the Ascension is puzzling. The full presence of the risen Lord made available during the season of Easter is now interrupted by Christ ascending. The bodily presence of Jesus is no longer immediately available to the disciples. Yet, in both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles (describing the exact same event), the Apostles are not sorrowful about this absence. In Acts, they are told by the angels, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven” (Acts 1:11). They are experiencing a hopeful bewilderment, waiting with wonder for what will happen next. In the Gospel of Luke, we hear what they do during this in-between time. They do not just sit around but as Christ ascends they worshipped him and “then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God” (Lk 24:52–53). Why do …

The Mass for Millennials: “Lord, I am not worthy. . .”

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed. Several months ago, I had the opportunity to travel to a far-off land, a land I had read about and imagined my whole life. “To Hogwarts you went?” some might ask. While Hogwarts would have been a magical experience, I went to a land that was home to a figure infinitely more awe-inspiring than that of Harry Potter. To the Holy Land I traveled, with my family and 40 parishioners from my hometown. I ventured on a pilgrimage through the cities where Jesus was born, grew up, ministered publicly, and died on the Cross. Through our visits to some of the holiest sites in the world, group reflections, and personal prayer, I grew closer to the Jesus who walked this Earth. As I journeyed from Jerusalem to Nazareth and from the Jordan River to the Sea of Galilee, I felt a consistent sense of unworthiness and gratitude for the blessing of this …