Out here, (Portugal), it is Corpus Christi. It is a national holiday. What that means, I don’t know. The Feast is evocative. The past. The Procession. The dressed-up windows. The Monstrance. The Communion children. That big heavy cope. Relics of old decency. I wonder now what it all meant and means. We mustered up four of 36 for the Sunday Mass (after First Communion) – it is hardly likely we could manage a few more for a Procession! But then what version of Eucharist are we marketing?
Don’t make God small:
We celebrated Corpus Christi today, in keeping with the country we are in. Language (our efforts to express ourselves) has limited us in our description and celebration of this feast and of Eucharist. We have too often strangled Scripture and squeezed the goodness out of Mass. The static dominates. ‘Eat this bread. Drink this cup. ‘ Corpus Christi – what might it say?
Could it dare talk of the explosion of life around us? The history of people in us. The unlimited potential of each of us. Might it say – that The Body of Christ is a Gallery? An exhibition of Godliness in us and among us. Might it suggest the colour of life in us and around us? We are fed. We feed. We grow. We live. We are surprised. We surprise. The Exhibition goes on and on. Age – young and old doesn’t matter. We all have our juices of excitement and provocation. ‘Came that we might life and have it to the full.’ Real education would demand of us that we be full-time and life-time learners in the ways of God. Let the teasing provocative God, always be around us like the God of Jonah (castor oil plant)
The Biography of a faithful person:
In that Gallery – there is our personal history; our communal history; our environment. We are fed daily. We need healthy feasting. When bread is broken; we recall the brokenness of life. We also recognize the sharing of story; the sharing of helpfulness; the affection of friendship; the endless loving necessary for living. We note too the scars in life and the mess in living. So often we get lost in the past and blame everything and others, for how we are. But in a lovely way and in a difficult manner we are responsible for how we answer the call of life. The food we are given is enough. The call made to us. Get up and get on with it. The moaners and groaners and whingers in life are a blight on the great Artist’s gift.
The Face has to smile:
Our little minds aren’t capable of total alertness. There has to be a simplicity of stopping and listening and hearing and smiling and gratitude and giving and receiving and a sharpening sense of humility in the presence of God. The head has to be lifted. The eyes have to be opened. The heart has to be awake. The imagination has to be challenged. The face has to smile. The weather of every day is a given; we make the best of it. We say hello. We say thanks. We accept. We give.
An unfinished masterpiece:
The Exhibition goes on. The Gallery of life is stimulating. Not everything of beauty and wonder is obvious. Our sleeping minds miss so much. What is catching and stirring and celebratory is the place that each of us have in the universe of God. The Gallery is never complete until and unless we each respond and ‘show off.’
We may not Process, but we do toddle through every day and the Gallery of Godliness is always on the go, here and everywhere. Many nostalgically crave the former Benediction. But we have benediction. The uplifted Monstrance was a formal gesture. The Monstrance of our lives (showing off/demonstrating graciousness) is always uplifted. It has to be.
I am Blessed here. The swinging Thurible with the burning incense is caught in the perfume of the flowers and shrubs and in the sea smells. The Benediction of life is in the camaraderie around me. It is the graciousness of the extended family and the Community. It is in the sharing of experiences. It is in the generosity of life. It is the challenge of always learning more and hearing more and seeing more and knowing that life is an unfinished masterpiece. (I found a little note here from a dear friend of mine who died four years ago. We are here in this place due to the goodness of this man and his wife. The note was one of praise and encouragement. I read it two days ago and I was really moved). I am still blessed by him.
Sin and Confession:
I end as I began – the artist and the poet and the musician is the one who is faithful. We are forever dredging our hearts, minds and imaginations to express the inexpressible. Kevin Doran appears to hint at sin caught by those voting YES at the Referendum and the need for Confession. He may be right in this sense. Sin happens for all of us who limit God; who belittle Eucharist; who are stuck in formality; who are too clear in the formulaic sense of faith; who are slaves to certainty. The real Confession occurs when we stop and say ‘Thanks to God’ for the Benediction of life in all those around us and in all those places we are and all those people who drag the best out of us. That is Confession. The real need of the other version of Confession is when a Gallery of formality is shown off and is detached from the mess, wonder, failure and fun of life and faith.
A little girl called Faith:
A little girl called Faith (First Communion child) linked the ‘Holy, Holy’ with what the Eucharist was about and her Holy Communion: ‘Heaven and Earth are full of your glory.’ The feast of Corpus Christi screams at us: Don’t be minimalist in what is celebrated at The Table of Life. It is dangerous, provocative, explosive and too big for little tidy minds and hearts. ‘A little Breton Bistro’ might not be a bad outline for a new way of embracing life and Eucharist and Corpus Christi.
Seamus Ahearne OSA