Monday, May 30, 2005

Corpus Christi

In this year of the Eucharist, on the feast day of Corpus Christi, I found myself reflecting once again on the Body and Blood of Christ. This subject never ceases to amaze me, so great a mystery, yet so central to our Christian faith.

I was enrolled at a convent school until the 7th grade. Catholic Religious Education was enforced strongly, and I marveled (and still do!) at the overflowing grace that has been given to my family—my sisters and I in particular—that beckons us to embrace the Catholic faith long after we left the school, despite the heavily theoretical catechical lessons and corrupt nepotist practices abound.

It is in a crowded classroom of forty, under the guidance of an eccentric religious education teacher, that I first was taught what the Eucharist is: that it is Christ's own body and blood visible to the mortal eyes as bread and wine. We learned the facts of the Catholic teachings by rote, often not understanding the meaning of this doctrine, frustrated at this teacher's peculiar answer, and finally, resigning to the fact that either we must think with two minds—one for faith and one for the world, or to the conclusion that this is a mystery that my huble mind cannot fathom. Many many years later, upon hindsight, it was an occasion of grace. It marked the beginning of cultivation of my eyes of faith.

Year after year, in my journey the meaning of Eucharist was revealed to me bit by bit, splendor by splendor. I recall listening to a homily some years back, about the Mother Church knowing what is best for her children—that despite not understanding how the Eucharist truly came to be—it is necessary to attend Mass. There was a time when I went to Mass out of obedience, trusting that the Eucharist, born out of a sheer act of total love, feeds us during our spiritual journey, and that without this supernatural nourishment we can never hope to reach home safely.

Eyes of faith led me to 'discover' adoration; only eyes of faith could assert that truly, contemplating the Eucharist is the closest we could get to contemplating His Face while still one earth. Eyes of faith led me to seek what it means to be in Communion with the Body of Christ: (and I quote St. Thomas Aquinas the Poet)

A sumente non concisus,
Non confractus, non divisus
Integer accipitur.
Sumit unus, sumunt mille;
Quantum isti, tantum ille:
Nec sumptus consumitur.

They too who of Him partake
Sever not, nor rend, nor break,
But entire their Lord receive.
Whether one or thousands eat,
All receive the selfsame meat,
Nor the less for others leave.
Lauda, Sion

The Eucharist led me to re-discover Sacrament of Penance:

Sorte tamen inaequali,
Vitae vel interitus.
Mors est malis, vita bonis:
Vide, paris sumptionis
Quam sit dispar exitus.

Both the wicked and the good
Eat of this celestial Food;
But with ends how opposite!
Here 'tis life; and there 'tis death;
The same, yet issuing to each
In a difference infinite.
Lauda, Sion

And finally, when everything has been said,

Credo quidquid dixit Dei Filius:
Nil hoc verbo Veritatis verius.
In cruce latebat sola Deitas,
At hic latet simul et humanitas;
Ambo tamen credens atque confitens,
Peto quod petivit latro paenitens.

What God's Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there's nothing true.
On the cross thy godhead made no sign to men,
Here thy very manhood steals from human ken:
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.
Adoro Te Devote

Deus, qui nobis sub Sacraménto mirábili passiónis tuae memóriam reliquísti:
tríbue, quaésumus, ita nos Córporis et Sánguinis tui sacra mystéria venerári,
ut redémptionis tuae fructum in nobis iúgiter sentiámus
Qui vivis et regnas cum Deo Patre, in unitáte Spíritus Sancti, Deus per ómnia saécula saeculórum. Amen.

O God, who in this wonderful sacrament hast left us a memorial of Thy passion, grant us, we beseech Thee, so to venerate the sacred mysteries of Thy Body and Blood, that we may ever perceive within us the fruit of Thy redemption. Who livest and reignest with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost. World without end.

Truly, it is the Source and the Summit of our life!

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