Thursday, June 12, 2008

Nothing is more important than the Eucharist

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan in the "Herald of Hope" column in "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald, May 29, 2008, takes his theme from the previous Sunday's "feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Our Lord". He celebrated at rural St. Lawrence Church with a Mass and procession.
We processed through the parish cemetery, and even the cows in the adjacent pasture sensed something unique.

The uncaused cows, for you Thomists. Our Archbishop takes an apparent detour from his theme.
Last week, as you know, I was in Ethiopia with a delegation to celebrate 50 years of efforts by Catholic Relief Services in that aching country of East Africa.

I didn't know.
The highlight was a visit to the center in the poorest area of Addis Ababa served by the Missionaries of Charity of Blessed Mother Theresa. When Missionary of Charity Sr. Benedicta, called to invite us, I told her I was eager to visit their kitchen which served 6,000 hungry a day, their orphanage where they cared for babies with HIV/AIDS, their center for the dying, their nursery preparing abandoned infants for adoption, and their dispensary for the sick, one of the only ones in that teeming metropolis.

I say apparent detour because,
"Oh good," Sister replied. "But we are more eager to have you celebrate Mass with us."

Uncharacteristically, I was speechless.

Me too.
For all the astounding good these sisters were doing, nothing was more important for them than the Eucharist.

The 2005 parish mission trip to Guatemala included the feast of Corpus Christi. I left off following the local church's procession, and kneeling on the cobblestones at the shrines at which it stopped, to go to a human rights briefing.
The "real presence" of the Son of God: hidden under the very ordinary signs of bread and wine in the holy Eucharist, and in the broken bodies of the poor. We annually need the feast of Corpus Christi to remind us of this.

If I had it to do over, I'd stick with the procession.


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