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Corpus Christi Homily, 19.06.22

The Church would simply not exist without the Holy Eucharist, because the Church is first the Body of Christ into which we are then incorporated. Remember that the Eucharist is both the act of worship we call the Mass as well as the Sacrament we receive into our bodies and souls. Pope Francis reminded us not long ago that the Mass is not merely a commemoration of the offering Jesus made of himself on the Cross: it isthat self-same offering in sacramental form. The Mass actually places us at the Last Supper, on Calvary and in heaven itself where Jesus offers himself now to the Father in heaven on our behalf. By this inexpressible gift of the Mass, Jesus invites us to join ourselves with body, heart and mind to Him and to offer our entire selves with Him to the Father. As we receive Holy Communion, Jesus perfects our union in love with Him, with the Father and with one another. This is the life of the Church. This is the Church.


To receive Holy Communion is to believe all of this. When I say Amen as I receive it, I am saying that I want to sacrifice myself to God in obedient faith and love, as did Jesus. I am saying that I want to die to sin and live in holiness. I am saying that I want to become more and more united with the Church which is born and grows as Christ’s own body through the Eucharist. And because we are all doing this together as a community of faith, we ourselves grow as the Church in this place. The Church is not the fruit of our individual or collective will or ingenuity, but Christ’s gift of salvation which we receive in faith.


The renewal of the Church at every level, including parish level, begins and ends with the Eucharist. The plans and initiatives we might take to reinvigorate and enliven our parish won’t last unless they are the fruit of a deeper faith in, devotion to and adoration of the Eucharist. A parish first belongs to the Lord; we draw our energy and our wisdom from Him. We are all rightly demoralized by the absence of so many young, married and middle-aged people from Mass, a reality which is not limited to our own parish, sadly. The question as to how to draw them back is as painful as it is challenging. Only the Lord can do that, even if He usually only does so through our witness. But that means we must go to Him to empower us to become more attractive and credible witnesses. It means we are each and all called to a deeper spiritual union with Him primarily through the Eucharist.


As you know, I hope to move the tabernacle back to the centre of the sanctuary from the side aisle. I want to do this for no other reason than to raise the profile of the Eucharist in our eyes, our hearts and our minds. When Vatican II invited parishes to consider placing the tabernacle in a side chapel, it was intended to foster devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, especially in large basilicas where many tourists would noisily pass through. Apart from the fact that a side aisle is not a side chapel, the reality is that our tabernacle is currently right beside the thoroughfare of the sacristy door. Without any intention of disrespect, we can walk past the tabernacle without even a bow; it is so easy to linger there in conversation about the most varied of subjects. In 2019 the Pew Research Center showed that 69% of US Catholics did not believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but rather that it was only a symbol. It’s a sobering statistic, and one to make us wonder what the situation is in Scotland, and in our own parish. We don’t aid people’s faith in the Real Presence by not giving it whatever prominence we can externally in our church. as for the eucharist as a mere symbol, no Church or parish will be renewed by mere symbols. Only the grace and power of the True Vine, the Real Presence, can give life and make its branches bear fruit in abundance.


So, by moving the tabernacle back to the centre of the sanctuary, my hope is that it can again become the focus of prayer before and after Mass and for those who come to visit during the day. My yet greater hope is that it will contribute to a renewal of faith in the Real Presence and of devotion to and adoration of it. I would plead for a Eucharistic revival of our parish under the auspices of all the great Eucharistic saints, among them being the recently beatified 15-year-old Italian, Blessed Caro Acutis. I encourage everyone to renew our faith and understanding of the Mass itself, of the graces and effects of the Sacrament for us as individuals and as parish; to pick up again the good habit of spending time in silent prayer before the tabernacle at odd moments of the day and week; to beseech the Lord to deepen and strengthen our love for Him in His Real Presence; and to ask Him, through his Eucharist, to revive the faith and life of our parish in whatever ways may be pleasing to Him.


At the end of July, we will remove the wooden screen from behind the sanctuary to open it up to the light from the side windows, drawing our minds to the transcendent Light of Christ. Once things are tidied up, we will mount the crucifix on the wall beneath the drapery, to raise our awareness that the Mass is the Sacrifice of the Cross; and in time for the end of the Parish Festival in September, we will unveil the new tabernacle which will be set on a plinth where the crucifix currently stands, reminding us that Christ stands in the sanctuary of heaven before the Father to intercede for us. These few small measures have the sole purpose of refocussing us all on the immense gift which Christ left us on the night he was betrayed, His own most holy Body and Blood. May all our parish initiatives of whatever kind, all our joys and sufferings as believers, families and parish, be brought with humility and faith before Him, for all we are and have are His, and without Him we are and can do nothing. But with Him, everything is possible.