Corpus Christi, the feast of the Body and Blood of our Lord!
It is such a great occasion to consider this fundamental truth the faith entrusted to us by Our Lord. St. Maxamillian Kolbe said, ” If Angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.” These beautiful, pure spirits gaze upon the face of God. And yet they can not receive Jesus in the manner that we do. Sometimes I ask my guardian angel to worship God on my behalf and to pray as he deserves.
How can I more worthily receive the Eucharist?
1. Remote Preparation – Spend time in adoration. To come to church and pray in the presence of the sacrament is to invest my time where my faith is. It is an act of faith to be willing to go sit and gaze upon this Sacrament. When we bask in the light of the Son, we are warmed and transformed. Will I spend more time this summer sun-bathing or Son-basking?
2. Immediate Preparation – Do I arrive at Mass early enough to pray, settle, and recollect? Also re-read last week’s bulletin note on dressing in our ‘Sunday Best.’
3. Reception – when I receive on the tongue or in the hand, am I focussed only on Jesus? Am I giving him my best and most reverent attention? Banish all thoughts of watching others receive, or checking out the fashion choices of others.
4. Thanksgiving – after receiving and returning to my spot, whisper to Jesus who now dwells within me like tabernacle. And this is the tabernacle that He prefers, a loving heart.
5. Discipleship – live in the manner worthy of the sacrament. Be His disciples to the world, making Him known in your love for the poor, in your concern for youth, in your charity to all. Reject Sin, Satan, and all His works. Live the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
Ok, that is quite a recipe, and one that is far from complete. I will leave you with a beautiful prayer from the Byzantine liturgy of the Mass. It is said this just before receiving Holy Communion. It is a lovely meditation on this great feast. Praying this prayer is bound to deepen your faith in this wonder-filled Sacrament.
O Lord, I believe and profess that You are truly Christ, the Son of the living God, Who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. Accept me as a partaker of Your mystical supper, O Son of God; for I will not reveal Your mystery to Your enemies, nor will I give You a kiss as did Judas, but like the thief I confess to You: Remember me, O Lord when You shall come into Your kingdom. Remember me O Master, when You shall come into Your kingdom. Remember me O Holy One, when you shall come into Your kingdom. May the partaking of Your Holy Mysteries, O Lord, be not for my judgment or condemnation, but for the healing of soul and body. O Lord, I believe and profess that this, which I am about to receive, is truly Your most precious Body and Your life- giving Blood, which, I pray, make me worthy to receive for the remission of all my sins and for life everlasting. Amen. O God, be merciful to me, a sinner. O God, cleanse me of my sins and have mercy on me. O Lord, forgive me, for I have sinned without number.
So what Mass are you going to for Christmas? Let me make a suggestion: ‘anything but the 4:00 pm.’ Yep, I typed that…. I personally don’t get the fascination with the earliest possible Mass. We have the overflow Mass at Holy Cross Academy and it is also packed. Why not try the 6:30 HCA or 8:30 pm Church if you have to go to Mass on Christmas Eve?? Getting a seat will not require arriving an hour early.
And seriously, last year someone called the fire marshal to complain about overcrowding. This resulted in a visit from the fire marshal Christmas eve and already this month warning us of over crowding. There is a very real possibility that the fire marshal will be watching us like a hawk this year.
Christmas Eve — Doors open @ 3pm!!
Oh, and yes, in order to try to minimize the frustration of folks saving entire pews, the doors to the Church will open at 3:00 pm for the 4pm Mass. I know that the ‘seat-savers’ will fill the church in minutes, but that is better than one person holding 2 pews by arriving 2 hours early…. which I have seen in parishes that don’t have a specific times the doors open. If you insist that ‘early is the only way,’ then in the words of the Christmas carol… “God Bless You.”
Or even better… As a Christmas gift to yourself, come on Christmas morning. The Masses on Christmas morning are far more prayerful than the ones on Christmas eve!
But, you ask, what about our family traditions? I get it. 2 years ago, my unmarried siblings and parents moved the gift exchange to the AM of Dec 26th! This was a traumatic change that took years of negotiations. Now on Christmas day, after all the Masses, I go to my parents home and we have a few calm minutes of rest, food, and conversation before my parents house is taken over by 23 Grandchildren. It worked! Christmas is now much more peaceful and prayerful!
This week we had the joyous arrival of Fr. Mick Kelly! And we sure are glad to have him here with us here at St. Mary’s! I know that you will welcome him with the same kindness and generosity that you have shown to me. A little bio of him and photo are on this page.
Also, as you read this, I am likely in a plane over the Atlantic or landing in Poland! We have a group of about 30 pilgrims walking in the steps of the life of Pope Saint John Paul the great! Keep us in your prayers, and I will have on the altar with me many intentions of yours that I have taken with me! Our first mass will be in the shrine of Divine Mercy, so I will be invoking the generous mercy of God on our parish family.
Pax et bonum!
Welcoming Fr. Mick Kelly
Father Michael J.R. Kelly, born in Berkeley, CA in 1977, Fr. Kelly grew up around Allentown, PA and attended Central Catholic High School. He enrolled at Franciscan University of Steubenville and graduated with a degree in Biology in 2000. After college, Father spent a year on the road with NET Ministries, St. Paul, MN. During that year, Father did 109 retreats over 19,000 miles for more than 6,000 high school and junior high youth. He reenrolled in Franciscan University after NET and obtained a Master of Arts in Philosophy in 2004.
Father Kelly entered seminary for the Diocese of Arlington and attended Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary. During seminary, Father was sent to the Spirituality Year at St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver, Colorado. Father graduated from Mt. St. Seminary in 2010 with a Master of Divinity. and Master of Arts in Systematic Theology. Fr. Kelly was ordained to the priesthood with Fr. Bresnahan on June 12, 2010 and was assigned as parochial vicar to St. Mary’s in Old Town Alexandria. In July, 2012, Father became the 4th diocesan chaplain to Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax. Father has traveled to many countries in Europe and has lived abroad in Mexico, England and Austria.