Corpus Christi – Fathers’ Day – 20222 2022
This is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. There is a line from the Sequence from the Feast that refers to the living and life-giving Bread. It calls to mind the words from Jesus about giving bread for the life of the world. Jesus says, in the Gospel that his blood is poured out for many. In other words, the Eucharist has to make a difference in our lives.
Our participation in the celebration is not passive. We don’t just sit in the pews and be disengaged from the Word of God or from the actions taking place. We bring our real lives to the Mass. And, we are blessed and dismissed (missioned) to live the Gospel with our lives.
I have shared before an excerpt from the writings of Cardinal Francis Xavier Van Thuan. Reading his words never fails to increase my gratitude for easy access to the Eucharist. He lived from 1928-2002 and spent thirteen years in prison in Communist Vietnam, nine of them in solitary confinement. I
n his 2007 encyclical, Spe Salvi, Benedict XVI referred to Thuan’s writings from prison: “During thirteen years in jail, in a situation of seemingly utter hopelessness, the fact that he could listen and speak to God became for him an increasing power of hope, which enabled him, after his release, to become for people all over the world a witness to hope – to that great hope which does not wane even in the nights of solitude.” His cause for beatification and canonization has started and he is called Servant of God. Here are his words:
“When I was arrested, I had to leave immediately with empty hands. The faithful sent me a small bottle of wine for Mass with a label that read, ‘medicine for stomach-aches.’ They also sent some hosts, which they hid in a flashlight for protection against the humidity. The police asked me, ‘You have stomach-aches?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Here’s some medicine for you.’
I will never be able to express my great joy! Every day, with three drops of wine and a drop of water in the palm of my hand, I would celebrate Mass. This was my altar, and this was my cathedral! It was true medicine for soul and body. Each time I celebrated the Mass, I had the opportunity to extend my hands and nail myself to the cross with Jesus, to drink with him the bitter chalice. Each day in reciting the words of consecration, I confirmed with all my heart and soul a new pact, an eternal pact between Jesus and me through his blood mixed with mine. Those were the most beautiful Masses of my life!”
This is also Father’s Day, a day for us to consider the impact of a Father. For good or for ill, fathers have a lasting impact on us. I’m very grateful for my late father as we celebrate. I’ve dealt with enough people to realize that I’m in a privileged position of having had a father whose effect on me is positive.
Let’s be mindful of our fathers, whether living or deceased. It is helpful to call to mind St. Joseph and his role in the life of Jesus. It was Joseph who taught him so much in a direct and tangible way by his silent and obedient contemplation. By his honest labour. By
his fidelity to Mary. By his respect for women. By helping Jesus to understand and use everyday images in his parables. By helping Jesus to show to others that love is ultimately about serving our neighbour with justice. As we celebrate Father’s Day, let’s be grateful for all of our fathers and for those who’ve filled in for them.