Present before the Real Presence, part 2 of 2
June 14, 2020 COVID-19 Faith Reflection—Present before the Real Presence, part 2 of 2
This Sunday is the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. Formerly known by its Latin name
, the solemnity commemorates the truth that God gives us his very self, Body and Blood, soul and divinity, through Communion.
As I mentioned in my Thursday faith reflection, viewing the Mass online and making a prayer of spiritual communion is like a Zoom view of a Thanksgiving Day dinner where you watch everyone around the table dig into the sweet potatoes, pecan pie, green beans, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and roast turkey while you can only salivate. Even if your brain does not register the difference, the stomach does. It is still hungry. Through the Mass and only the Mass, we receive the Body and Blood of Christ.
Catholics take Jesus at his word
when he took bread at the Last Supper and said, “This is my body. Take and eat.” Catholics take Jesus at his word when he took the chalice of wine and said, “This is my blood. Take and drink.” During the Mass, Catholics take part in Communion that nourishes our soul with true food and true drink.
Very likely, some within your family and Catholic friends do not value the Mass or communion as much as you do. Attendance at Sunday Mass admittedly takes effort. It might not fit in their plans for the day. Viewing the Mass virtually can seem to them as the same as being in the church physically.
Arguments from Scripture (“It’s in the Bible!”) and statements from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (“The Pope said so!”) that dent their doubt would be a first-class miracle. Don’t hold your breath. Eucharistic miracles such as the eighth century miracle at the Church of San Francesco in Lanciano, Italy, bounces off skeptical ears
What people believe these days is a credible witness. The from-the-heart experience of someone they trust gets attention. It raises a question in their mind. “That might be true for you. I don’t see it for me. But I can’t deny your experience. There might be something to this after all.”
Our witness starts with an invitation. “I’m going to the 9:30 a.m. Mass at Nativity this Sunday.” But instead of saying the expected, “Would you come with me?” and getting the polite, “Thanks, maybe some other time,” maybe ask them a question,
“Can I tell you why I go to Mass?”
My answer to the question, “Why I go to Mass?” is, “I receive the Body and Blood of Christ.” Yes, it’s unbelievable that Christ fully gives himself to us sinners, but he does. His sacrifice makes us one body, one spirit, in him. I love it.
Silence about the Eucharist is not going to help anyone make the leap of faith. Our answer to the question, “Can I tell you why I go to Mass?” is a powerful and needed witness in word.
Our reverence towards the Mass gives additional witness in action. Setting aside two hours on Sunday says that Mass is worth your time. Dressing up in a button-down shirt and slacks and hard shoes, or a blouse and skirt, says louder than words, “Special clothes for a special occasion.” Genuflecting towards the tabernacle when we enter and leave the church shows reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament.
Jesus said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you” (John 6:51-58). He is the way of eternal life. He gives us the gift of himself, body and blood, soul and divinity, so that we become one with him. That’s what lovers do.
HOLY HOUR FOR HEALING & RACIAL JUSTICE
During my holy hour on Friday morning while reading the US bishops’ pastoral letter against racism,
Open Wide Our Hearts
, I asked what we might do as a parish about racism. It came to me that next Friday happens to be June 19th, also known as Juneteenth, the day that slaves in Texas were belatedly told that the civil war had ended and they were no longer enslaved. Wonderful timing! So we’re holding a
Holy Hour for Healing and Racial Justice this Friday, June 19th, from 7-8 pm at Nativity
. Please join me for prayer and reflection that our hearts open wide.
At the end of my Thursday faith reflection, I gave the good news that we have surpassed our goal for
Our Catholic Appeal
, the annual pledge drive to support Bishop Noonan. We went $64,368 over our goal of $161,997 for a total pledge of $226,365. Out of 1288 donor families for Church of the Nativity, 408 families made a pledge in 2020, for a participation rate of 31%. Thank you to the 408 families for your support of Bishop Noonan and the Diocese of Orlando!
Some of the parish finance news is not so good. Our May 2020 offertory collection of $35,300 was half of the May 2019 collection of $70,800. What’s more, May 2020 had five Sundays and five collections while May 2019 had only four Sunday and four collections. For the three months of March, April and May when the economy was shut down, the Sunday collection was down 28% or $59,000 compared to the same three months in 2019.
Nativity has been prudently saving for just such a rainy day. But going forward, we ought to live within our means both personally and as a parish. Please take to prayer
three ways to support the parish:
Resume your Sunday offertory at the same amount you had given in the past
Switch to online giving. It is secure, convenient, reliable, and easy to adjust
Donate stock and IRA distributions directly to the parish. You may receive an income tax deduction and avoid taxes that makes your gift to the parish that much greater.
Some good news is that online giving has more than doubled in the past three months. About one-third of the current collection amount is through online giving. Thank you for taking the leap of faith to give online!
"As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God's varied grace" (1 Peter 4:10).
Returning to Church
Nativity Longwood .
on Sunday, June 14 at 9:30AM