A WORD FROM THE PASTOR
Feast of Corpus Christi
Today, we celebrate the solemn feast of Corpus Christi. It is three feasts in one: the Feast of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the Feast of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and the Feast of the Real Presence of Jesus in this Sacrament.
Corpus Christi is a doctrinal feast established for three purposes:
- to give God collective thanks for Christ's abiding presence with us in the Eucharist and to honor him there
- to instruct the people in the Mystery, faith and devotion surrounding the Eucharist
- to teach us to appreciate and make use of the great gift of the Holy Eucharist, both as a Sacrament and as a sacrifice.
The following two stories are from the life of Mother Teresa. They tell us very powerfully how the Eucharist fulfills all three purposes of the Feast of Corpus Christi.
Most Rev John Quinn, archbishop of San Francisco from 1977 to 1995, asked the Missionaries of Charity to open a house in his diocese. They made sure that their convent was as simple as possible, but quite comfortable. When Mother Teresa arrived, she ordered the removal of all carpets, all telephones disconnected, with the exception of one for emergencies, mattresses on the beds taken away, and elimination of other items of comfort. Mother Teresa explained to the baffled archbishop, "All we really need in our convent is the tabernacle."
The cruel communist dictator, Enver Hoxha, who ruled Albania for 40 years from 1945 to 1985, imposed atheism as the official religion in 1967. The possession of a Bible or cross often meant a ten-year prison term. At a reception to welcome Mother Teresa to her native country, he expressed his appreciation of her world-wide works of charity, then added, "But I will not permit Christ to return to Albania as long as I am in charge."
In her reply after thanking the president for the reception Mother said, "Mr. President, you are wrong. I have brought not only the love of Christ into my native land but also the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist right into your presidential palace. I am allowed to carry Jesus in a Pyx during my visit to this communist country where public worship is a crime. I keep Jesus in the consecrated host in my pocket. Jesus will surely return to this country very soon."
Just six years later, Communist rule collapsed in Albania in 1992. Christians and Muslims reopened their churches and mosques for worship. The non-communist president of Albania, Mr. Ramiz Alia, awarded Albanian citizenship to Mother Teresa during her visit to her liberated home country in 1992. Mr. Alia also created a "Mother Teresa Prize" to be awarded to those who distinguished themselves in the field of humanitarian and charitable work.