I desire to receive you into my soul - Corpus Christi Sunday (A)

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > I desire to receive you into my soul - Corpus Christi Sunday (A)

It has been over three months since restrictions were placed on attending Mass. While many Catholics have been able to access Mass online, faithful parishioners have been denied access to receiving Holy Communion. We have turned to a prayer from our tradition – the Prayer of Spiritual Communion. Each Sunday at this Mass I have said the Prayer of Spiritual Communion at this Mass for those participating online. And will do so again today.

Hearing the prayer regularly, as has been the case over the past months, we have become familiar with its sentiments. At the heart of the prayer is the expression of spiritual desire. The prayer says: “I desire to receive you into my soul.” A beautiful sentiment, and one keenly felt by so many in this lockdown experience.

St Thomas Aquinas described Spiritual Communion as “an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament”. This is what many Catholics have experienced over the past months. It is an ardent desire, isn’t it? There is a longing in the soul for communion with the Lord.

Being deprived of the opportunity to receive Holy Communion sacramentally has stirred up and strengthened in us our desire for union with the Lord. We have sensed a Eucharistic hunger. We have come to realise that our faith is lived on the foundation of a deep interior union, or communion, with the Lord.

What the Lord spoke of at the Last Supper is very real for us. “I am the vine, you are the branches… Abide in me and I abide in you”. We also know only too well the Lord’s teaching: “Cut off from me you can do nothing.” The Gospel today says what we deeply know: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood, lives in me and I live in him.”

If it is not possible to receive Holy Communion our hearts reach out for a spiritual communion. St John Vianney commented, “When we feel the love of God growing cold, let us instantly make a Spiritual Communion. When we cannot go to the church, let us turn towards the tabernacle; no wall can shut us out from the good God.”

What he said is something we have no doubt done. When we feel distant from Christ we have invited Him to come afresh into our hearts. We know that we cannot live without Him.

In his final encyclical, entitled Ecclesia de Eucharistia, (2003) Pope St John Paul II taught that in the Eucharist,

Unlike any other sacrament, the mystery [of communion] is so perfect that it brings us to the heights of every good thing: Here is the ultimate goal of every human desire, because here we attain God and God joins himself to us in the most perfect union.

This is what we experience each time we receive Holy Communion. We have found “the ultimate goal of every human desire”.

In the year 2004/5 Pope St John Paul II declared a Year of the Eucharist and entitled his Apostolic Letter, Mane Nobiscum Domini, “Stay with us Lord”. The title makes reference to the account of the journey to Emmaus (Lk 24:13-35) where the two disciples upon reaching the destination invite their companion on the road to stay with them. Their words express the prayer of the Christian, "Stay with us, Lord, for it is almost evening." (cf. Lk 24:29)
This is our desire. The Lord accompanies us and our hearts, longing for deeper union with the Lord, invite him to stay with us, especially when evening comes. The Pope comments,

Amid the shadows of the passing day and the darkness that clouded their spirit, the Wayfarer brought a ray of light which rekindled their hope and led their hearts to yearn for the fullness of light. "Stay with us", they pleaded. And he agreed. Soon afterwards, Jesus' face would disappear, yet the Master would "stay" with them, hidden in the "breaking of the bread" which had opened their eyes to recognize him.

It is in the consecrated host that we know the Lord is with us. We long for a deep communion with him.

St John Vianney said, “Communion is to the soul like blowing a fire that is beginning to go out, but that has still plenty of hot embers; we blow, and the fire burns again.”

These words capture our experience at Mass – our fire of faith and love within our soul is re-enkindled.

On this great feast of Corpus Christi let us contemplate the wonder of the gift that the Lord has given to us and know afresh the desire that burns in our souls.

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Sunday, June 14, 2020