The first written teaching we possess regarding the Eucharist, the Holy Mass, comes to us from St. Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, written from Ephesus to the Church in Corinth around the year 56, some 23 years after Jesus’ crucifixion.
I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over,
took bread, and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
By this we see that the Church had the custom of the Holy Mass very early after the Resurrection and Pentecost of Jesus.
Paul stresses in the same letter the importance of being prepared to eat the Body and Blood of Christ worthily.
Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.
Even today, we stress the importance of being in a “State of Grace”, and understanding that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Jesus, and directly related to his Crucifixion and Resurrection.
From time to time we still get questions about whether Catholics can share communion with Protestants. We can be in communion with Protestants with the “Word of God”. However, since they do not believe that our Eucharist is actually the Body and Blood of Christ, there is nothing there to share. Our Holy Eucharist is not a “party favor” or a “door prize”. If we are not in a state of Grace it is spiritually destructive to us to receive His Body and Blood, unworthily.
You have often heard me say, “If you are Baptized and want to go to heaven, there are only three things remaining to do. First, do not miss Mass. (Third Commandment of the Ten Commandments, “Keep Holy the Sabath”). Second, receive Holy Communion every chance you get. Jesus said,
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.
That is a promise. And, Third, “If you fall off the bicycle, and everyone falls off the bicycle”, get up and go to Confession. This is how we maintain ourselves ready to receive the Body and Blood worthily.
Just a word about how to receive Holy Communion: Everyone has a right to receive the Body of Christ in the mouth or in the hand. However, you receive Holy Communion at the Altar. We have the privilege to receive Holy Communion in the hand or the mouth. However, it must be consumed at the Altar. We may not carry the Lord away in our hands. Please do not turn away and walk with the Lord in your hands.
The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the Feast Day of our parish, and it occurs next Friday. When Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and revealed his Sacred Heart to her, it was while she was in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on the Feast of Corpus Christi. He asked her to establish a feast day dedicated to his Sacred Heart, on the Friday within the Octave of the Feast to His Body and Blood. Next Friday is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. And, he told her that all should receive Holy Communion on the feast of Corpus Christi, and the Feast of His Sacred Heart.
It just so happened that France and much of Europe was in the grip of a Protestant-inspired heresy in the Church, that the Sacraments, the Eucharist could not save a person. This was the Jansenist heresy, and it took generations to stamp it out. The solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, connected to Corpus Christi, was one of God’s tools to help us return to the Sacramental Life. Within generations, the Jansenist heresy was crippled. The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus exploded throughout the Church over the next centuries. Today there are parishes, schools, seminaries, hospitals and orphanages all over the world dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the Diocese of Austin alone, we have six parishes dedicated to the Sacred Heart.
Over one hundred and fifty years ago, a new devotion to the Sacred Heart arose in France, called the “Guard of Honor”. Once again it was born in a convent of the Visitation Nuns. This devotion offered a new way to pray and be consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Five years ago we received permission to launch this devotion here in our parish. It took a lot of homework and preparation, and permission from our Bishop and from the Visitation nuns in France to launch this devotion here in our parish. Fr. Leo has spent long hours over the past few months preparing for the launch of the Guard of Honor devotion here. It has not been offered in other parishes in the Diocese, as official certification is required. If you come to the Mass of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus this coming Friday, you will see about 200 persons make their consecration to the Guard of Honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. They have been preparing for several weeks, including some ten families. We thank God for this blessing to our community, and to those who have responded to the announcements we have made at all Masses. My thanks to Fr. Leo for his dedication in preparation for this event.
Also, those who come to the Mass of the Sacred Heart on the Feast Day next Friday will be eligible for a plenary indulgence, complete remission of temporal punishment for all sins confessed. They must have confessed recently, receive Holy Communion and pray for the intentions of the Holy Father, including the Creed, “Our Father”, “Ave Maria” and “Glory be to the Father”. As announced previously, we will continue with evening Novena to the Sacred Heart every evening after Mass, including Holy Hour and Adoration after the weekday Masses.