Living Bread

06-14-2020Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Most of us are fascinated by the beauty of the classic Latin hymn “Panis Angelicus”. Although there are many Latin hymns in our tradition, only a few are really “great”. This hymn “the Bread of Angels” is certainly one. Folks of all ages are drawn to it because of its interior melodic beauty. What is most interesting is that this “bread of angels” is really the holy bread for humans. It is Jesus who gives us his Body under the appearance of bread, not the angels.

We are all aware that on Holy Thursday at Services we memorialize and celebrate the Institution, the beginning, of the Holy Eucharist. This event marks the beginning of the three most solemn and holy days of our church calendar. It is the beginning of the religious celebration of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus. Our Sunday Feast Day of the Body and Blood of Christ brings us back to reflect upon the meaning of the Eucharist, the Mass in our lives. As we now start the process back from the Pandemic and Quarantine, most of us have had a great deal of time to ponder the meaning of Mass and the Divine Presence of Jesus in our lives. There is a special graced irony that Cardinal Sean had announced a “Year of the Eucharist” a while back. We actually begin this “Year” now because the Pandemic has started to lessen. What was originally to be a Year of special events and teachings, has now for almost all of us become a time of re-establishing Sunday Mass. This Year of the Eucharist is now focused on the most essential: the Celebration of our Sunday Mass. Many of you feel and often speak about how you miss Mass and hope to return at the safe and proper time. In many ways, it is a graced and poignant moment when we speak about how much we miss Mass and the Reception of the Lord Jesus in Holy Communion. The effort, time, and expense of re-establishing Mass with all the requirements of the State and Archdiocesan Directives are proof of how this truly is the Year of the Eucharist. Over the summer, people will start to return to Mass as the various Phases of the State Directives indicate that gatherings are now safer etc. We are blessed that we have many volunteers who are acting as “Ambassadors” at Mass each weekend to welcome and assist people at they come into the church. Our two Deacons, Deacon Guy and Deacon Ron are now going to be “Missionaries” for our Parish and organize and direct programs concerning the Mass and the Eucharist in this Year of the Eucharist.  

We can never overestimate the importance of the Holy Eucharist in the life of our Church. Bear in mind the Gospels tell the story of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes no fewer than six times. The Gospel writer John devotes the whole of his long Chapter Six to a special and wonderful reflection on the meaning of the words, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven”. John makes clear to everyone that a strong faith in Jesus is nourishment for the human spirit as ordinary bread is for the body. Our experience of the last few months also tells us that we need the grace of the Lord’s Body in Communion for our lives to have depth, meaning, and purpose.

Overtime our church will refill with so many of you who have missed the celebration of Mass and the Reception of Communion. This Feast Day of today is a good reminder of how our hearts do indeed yearn for the Lord in Holy Communion.

Father Brian