My Greatest Liturgical Faux Pas: A Corpus Christi Homily

First Mass - five weeks from start Pictures, Images and Photos

Being an early riser, I usually went to daily Mass
with my Dad from the time I was in kindergarten.
Therefore, the greatest day of my life was
when I celebrated and received my first communion.
So caught up in the joyous wonder of being able to receive communion,
I began to count the number of people receiving communion at daily Mass.
We knelt at a communion rail; the priest would walk by and give communion.
One day, much to my embarrassment, when the priest said, “The Body of Christ,”
I replied, “Fourteen.”  Much to my relief, Father Scheurmann never heard.
Although he was hard of hearing; he may have not been paying attention.

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ
to remind us that Jesus Christ is truly present when we celebrate the Eucharist.
We celebrate the four-fold presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
–Here (pew) in the congregation.  “Where two or three are gathered…”
–Here (ambo) where the word is proclaimed and preached   That is why we show reverence for the gospel by standing, making the three fold sign of the cross, why the priest or deacon kisses the book and why incense is sometimes used.
–Here (presidentail chair) in a way we priests find mysterious and humbling in the person of the priest.  A priest is called to represent Christ — to help make him present.
–Here (the altar) in a most special way, Jesus is present in the Body and Blood of Christ: the blessed bread and wine that is broken, poured and shared in memory of Jesus.  When we receive communion, it is Jesus whom we receive: body, blood soul, and divinity.

However, sometimes I wonder whether or not or how well
we are present when we come to Church for Sunday Mass.
Many times we are like my younger self
who was paying more attention to the communion count
than to who it was I was receiving – Jesus Christ.
Perhaps you can remember a time when you sat down
for the readings and the next thing you knew it was the sign of peace!
What follows are some of the things we can do to help insure
that we are present on Saturday nights or Sunday mornings.

PREPARE. Pray every day and let the Lord be part of our daily life
so that when we gather we celebrate our relationship with God.
Read the Sunday readings before you come to church,
so that the tilled soil of your mind might better receive God’s word.

GATHER. Greet people on the street, in the parking lot,
or in the gathering area.   Be hospitable to strangers.
Greet Christ who is present in all believers.

PARTICIPATE. The Eucharist is not something we watch.
It’s not a spectator sport ; its something we do.
Sing along.  My Dad who sang dreadfully once said,
“God gave me this voice, and I am giving it back to God.”

PAY ATTENTION. Put down those infernal missalettes and listen.
I once heard a deacon tell of the three gifts of the magi —
gold, frankenSTEIN, and myrrh.  There were 350 or more people.
Almost no one heard the mistake because they were reading along.

PRAY THE WORDS. All too often we mumble and don’t speak the words.
We sometimes say the words without thinking about what they mean.
Some of us (including long-winded preachers) have apparently decided
that the idea is to see how fast we can say the words.

GET INVOLVED.   Be a server, reader, greeter, usher,  musician
cantor, choir member, extraordinary minister of the eucharist,
or gift bearer.  If you have never been asked, volunteer.

EXPECT SOMETHING TO HAPPEN.  In all the sacraments
God tries to touch our lives, but can do so only if we are open.
James reminds in the New Testament,
“Draw close to the Lord and the Lord will draw close to you.”  (4::8)

If we prepare, gather, participate, and truly expect something to happen,
Jesus Christ will not only be present in the eucharist, but we will be present, too.

[PHOTO by Imvolk on photobucket]


About Paul Wharton

I am a cradle Catholic, a native West Virginian, and a priest since April 24, 1982. Spiritual Direction has made a tremendous difference in my life and I encourage people to try it out. My motto is "Progress not perfection." I am grateful that God has done for me what I could not do for myself.
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7 Responses to My Greatest Liturgical Faux Pas: A Corpus Christi Homily

  1. If the soil of our minds is properly tilled with all these wonderful suggestions, Father Paul, the Body and Blood will be flourishing us, and we will never sing off key. Thanks for sharing your childhood memories with us. Often, I believe, God re-plants those memories in our consciousness to remind us of the fruits of our spiritual journey, even from the moments of our First Communion, and God validates the realness of what we eat and drink each time we receive Communion. We do get distracted with the count sometimes Even that is part of our realness.

  2. Father Paul, God bless you in your retreat!

  3. Anne Comeaux says:

    Wish I had had this as a resource last week when I did a presentation for RCIA on Eucharist. Thanks. I’m going to forward to the liturgist in my parish; maybe she’ll run part of it in the bulletin. For this most special feast, blessings on you as priest, person and friend.

  4. Denise says:

    This is wonderful advice. I’ve been practicing the discipline of preparing for Mass for several months now, and it has been very enriching. It was so hard to focus on “anything” while I was grieving, but nearly everything is easier now. During Lent, we focused on the readings in faith formation, and I was touched by the joy, and enthusiasm I saw in the children as the Scriptures were read, and discussed in your homily. I will continue to encourage others to prepare for Mass. It truly makes a difference! Thank you Fr. Paul. I pray your retreat will be an eternal blessing for you.

  5. This is a great sermon Father. Thanx.

    You may be interested in my post on this subject in my Blog.

    God bless.

  6. kathy says:

    Well said. Love the thoughts and suggestions. I believe.

  7. Buz says:

    The sanctuary looks like they renovated Father Scheurmann’s. It looks beautiful. Thanks for the old memory. I didn’t think you are old enough to have knelt at an altar rail. Buz

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