The Church of Saint Agnes

1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

The Church of Saint Agnes
1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

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Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Date: 
Sun, 06/07/2015
Author: 
Rev. Msgr. Donald Enzweiler

Today, we focus our attention
on the most precious possession of our Catholic faith: the Eucharist.
The sacred action of our gathering for Mass
contains the Church’s source of spiritual wealth.
It is fitting for us
to take the time for introspection--
to re-collect our thoughts, our beliefs, our desires, our intentions--
concerning this Sacrament;
to consider what it means
in the midst of a world of personal and global wars,
relentless demands, impossible moral dilemmas;
to weigh once again its value for our lives;
to consider its place in our individual and communal quest
for fulfillment, satisfaction, order, peace, and unity.
 
To say that Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist,
that unleavened bread and the fermented juice of the grape
become the body and blood of Jesus Christ
flies in the face of science and logic.
Chemical analysis of the consecrated species
cannot support the conclusion that a change has taken place.
Visual inspection, likewise,
cannot detect what the theology of transubstantiation describes.
Those who embrace the conviction that says
“..If I can’t personally understand it, it must not be true…”
will not be convinced.
And I know, even among Catholics
there is confusion, doubt, and bewilderment
when it comes to believing in the real presence of Christ.
Many Catholics resign themselves to the statement: “I don’t know what to believe any more.”
 
Being the cautious person that I am,
I suggest that it is better to say “I don’t understand”
instead of saying “I don’t believe.”
Even as a priest, there are facets of Catholic theology I don’t understand.
It’s hard to wrap my mind around
what has taken 2000 years to develop,
with contributions made by minds far more brilliant than mine,
with lives far more holy than I will ever be.
 
 
 
There is some we may not understand but there is much that we do understand.
We know that some disciples left Jesus when he said: “you must eat my flesh and drink my blood to have eternal life.”
We know that at the Last Supper Jesus took bread and wine, said the blessing,
and giving it to his disciples said:  take and eat.  This is my body.  This is my blood.
Do this in memory of me.
We know that 2 disciples recognized the risen Lord in the breaking of the bread.
We have a letter from a governor during the first years of the Christian community
expressing concern about this new group in his territory who eat flesh and drink blood.
We have accounts of numerous miracles concerning and involving the Eucharist.
And as I already said, we have 2000 years of history supporting belief
that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
Some of that history involves fragmentation, groups of people leaving,
separating themselves from the Catholic Church because they could not accept
this teaching.
There are countless people who have suffered and died protecting the sacred species
from desecration.
 
When it comes to the Eucharist, any quest for understanding
must be tempered with a realization:
the mystery of the presence of Christ is inexhaustible.
It will never be totally known to us while we are bound
by the limitations of our humanity.
 
According to Catholic tradition and teaching
the Eucharist is more than receiving transformed bread and wine:
it is a celebration, a gathering of God’s people,
a coming together prompted by Jesus Christ himself.
Our obligation is more than one of physical presence and/or mechanical participation:
it is an obligation of moral presence to be aware of,
available and accessible to other members of the parish.
It is in and through this great act of prayer
that invisible divine realities
are made visible in signs and symbols:
extending peace to others as God extends it to us;
unifying ourselves to one another in love as God exists in a unified loving relationship;
re-living the events of Scripture,
contemplating God’s design of salvation
contemplating the mystery of the life of Christ…..
so that our eyes will be opened and we will recognize Him…..
so that our hunger and thirst for God will be satisfied.
 
In a world where human dignity is dismissed
and concern for the sacred is devalued
the Church seeks to re-establish that link,
that connection with the divine.  What we do here is nothing less than supernatural.
Jesus Christ is present:  within us, among us, around us.
By becoming aware, by allowing ourselves to be embraced by this presence
by celebrating and receiving this gift from God
we join ourselves to everyone through time  
whose faith brought them to the altar.
 
I am here today because I want something.
There’s more to life than being a spectator
sitting on the sidelines
watching the parade of life go by.
I want to participate in something
much bigger than I are.
And I believe this involves standing together with others, not apart.
I want a loving heart, not one filled with hatred.
I want what our faith promises in Jesus Christ.
 
We gather this today
to reground ourselves in the greatest tradition of our church,
the supreme expression of our faith:   the Eucharist.
It is an anchor holding us fast
against the swift current of meaningless living.
It is a light guiding us through the darkness of hopelessness and despair.
It is a beacon of truth
redirecting the human heart away from selfish wants
to God’s life-giving wants.
 
What does God want?
God wants to provide:
freedom from bondage and slavery
guidance and direction, to show us the way
spiritual sustenance: food for the journey.
 
God wants us to trust;
trust in the memories of people
who walked in unforgiving wilderness;
who walked the road to Jerusalem
following the Word of God.
They saw what they saw
They heard what they heard.
 
God wants us to believe the words spoken by His son,
the words recorded, written to testify to the power of faith
“Eat and never be hungry.  Eat and live forever.”
 
“This is my body.  This is my blood.”   Amen.  I believe.