From My Archives: The Food of All Saints

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I preached this homily two years ago in 2004 for All Saints Day during the Year of the Eucharist. I would want to say the very same things again this year, so I thought of sharing the text with the readers of Vultus Christi.

We celebrate today the memory of all who, by the power of the Holy Ghost at work in their lives and in their deaths, have passed over with Christ to the Father. In a word, we celebrate the memory of those who have accomplished the mystery begun in them at Baptism, the mystery nourished in them with every participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We celebrate today the memory of men and women and children fully transformed by partaking of the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ.

Communion with the saints is the grace we ask for in every Holy Mass. Our partaking of the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ can change us as it changed them, heal us as it healed them, purify us as it purified them, refresh us as it refreshed them. It is so moving to pray in the Canon of the Mass, striking the breast as the rubrics prescribe, “To us sinners also, Thy servants who hope in the abundance of your mercies, deign to grant some share and fellowship with Thy holy Apostles and Martyrs . . . and all Thy saints, into whose company we beg Thee admit us, not weighing our merits but granting us pardon.”

Communion with the saints in this life means being poor in spirit, it means living with outstretched hands, confident that He who promises the kingdom of heaven will give it according to the measure of our emptiness, and of our desire. The Most Holy Eucharist is the sacrament of the hospitality of God offered freely and without measure to the poor in spirit.

Communion with the saints means weeping as the saints wept, knowing that every tear of ours is counted in heaven, and seeking, even in the midst of tears, the face of Christ the Comforter. The Most Holy Eucharist is the sacrament of our comfort, the unfailing consolation of the saints.

Communion with the saints means going gently through this life, trusting that more is gained through meekness than through might. The Most Holy Eucharist is the power of those without power; it is the strength of the gentle, the triumph of the meek, the inheritance of the humble.

Communion with the saints means suffering in one’s soul hunger and thirst for the true, the beautiful, and the good, hunger and thirst for the pure joy of a right relationship with God and with others. The Most Holy Eucharist is the sacrament of justice, bringing justice to every place and to every heart. It is the wellspring of righteousness, the communication of all that is true, all that is beautiful, and all that is good to those who approach it hungering and thirsting for God alone.

Communion with the saints means looking at others through eyes of mercy; it means practicing attitudes, words, and deeds of mercy, never despairing of the mercy of God for oneself. The Most Holy Eucharist is the sacrament of mercy given, mercy received, and mercy exchanged.

Communion with the saints means desiring that purity of heart by which one comes to see God, and believing that a clean heart is something that God alone can give and wants to give to all his children. The Most Holy Eucharist is the sacrament of purity making clean those who receive it; it is the fulfillment of what Isaiah saw in the temple of the Thrice-Holy God: the burning coal taken from the altar to cleanse his heart and lips.

Communion with the saints means making peace in oneself and around oneself, even at a great cost to oneself; the household of God is the dwelling of peace. The Most Holy Eucharist is the sacrament of peace, the seal of peace, and the bond of peace.

Finally, communion with the saints means meeting insults with silence, persecutions with meekness, and evil utterances with words of blessing. It means rejoicing, already here and now, in the foretaste of heaven given us in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Most Holy Eucharist is the sacrament of blessing undoing every curse.

All the saints are saints of the Most Holy Eucharist. Frequent the saints and you will, little by little, enter into their experience of the transforming power of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Enter into the adorable mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist and you will, little by little, come to know the faithful companionship of the saints. All the saints are present to us today. Listen to their voices with the ear of the heart. You will a mighty chorus saying:

Come to the Sacrament of the hospitality of God. Come to the Sacrament of our comfort. Come to the Sacrament of the meek and humble Christ. Come to the Sacrament that satisfies every hunger and quenches every thirst. Come to the Sacrament of mercy. Come to the Sacrament of purity. Come to the Sacrament of peace. Come to the Sacrament of the Kingdom. Come when you are insulted; come when you are persecuted; come when evil is uttered against you falsely because of Christ. Come when you are burdened with labor, and be refreshed. We are, all of us, saints of the Most Holy Eucharist. Come to the Sacrament of all saints.