I remember Corpus Christi Sunday when I was growing up. I would go with my dad to downtown Houston, where men from the Holy Name society from all the different parishes in the area would gather. We would march behind the Blessed Sacrament, carried in procession by a priest or the bishop. Many parishes still celebrate it, some by processing through the neighbourhood. It is a venerable tradition that focuses on our enduring belief that in the consecrated host is the actual, living Body of Christ. We celebrate the fact that our very God desires to be with us, present to us in a tangible manner, and nourish our souls. And I think this is a very appropriate time to celebrate those of us from the former Blessed Sacrament parish, who are now part of Assumption. Thank you for your steadfastness and your witness to the Body of Christ present among us.
Although this solemnity highlights the presence of Christ in the Eucharistic species, this weekend’s Gospel takes it further: Jesus feeds the crowd of 5000 men (plus women and children?) with only five loaves and two fish. Jesus feeds the body as well as the soul. And that is the perennial call of the Christian: to unite the spiritual and the physical, to care for the soul and the body—both others’ and our own. It is so much easier to worry only about my spiritual health. On another level, so much of society today worries about physical health, without being concerned with the spiritual. The challenge is to do both.
The Catholic Church has a long tradition of this. Here we have two conferences of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, one originally from Holy Name of Mary and the other from Blessed Sacrament (where the thrift store is now). A large group of dedicated volunteers ensure that SSVP helps many families each week with food (most of which you have given) and other items. This ministry is indeed an essential part of building up the Body of Christ, which is the Church.
And in an effort to care for my physical and emotional needs, I will be gone until mid-June, to help build up body and spirit. I will attend a conference in New Jersey, followed by vacation in Texas… where at the same time I’ve been invited to preside at a wedding of former parishioners, and then to be at the sad event of the Basilian “going away” Mass at Most Holy Trinity in Angleton, where I was pastor. Please pray for the people there as they transition from over 50 years of Basilian presence, to a diocesan pastor. And, I ask for your prayer for me during this time of rest; I assure you of your presence in my thought and prayer.