Corpus Christie-June 3rd, 2018

Deacon Blaine Barclay


Today is the feast of the Eucharist, the great thanksgiving, Corpus Christi, the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. Introduced as a universal feast by Pope Urban IV in the thirteenth century.  In the same century, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote the famous hymn for this festival that we sing to this day, ’Pange Lingua’.  The fourth verse of this hymn says,

’By his word of the Word almighty

Makes of bread his flesh indeed;

Wine becomes his very life blood;

Faith Gods living

word must heed!

Faith alone may safely guide us

Where the senses cannot lead’.

Such a beautiful hymn to the Word made flesh.

But the roots of this feast, the Eucharist itself, go back much further than the 13th century.  The meaning of the Eucharist is firmly rooted in our Jewish past.  It was in the middle of a Passover meal that Jesus took bread and broke it, gave it to his disciples to eat, and said, ’This is my Body’; took the cup of wine, give it to his disciples to drink, and said, ’This is my Blood’.

The Passover meal itself is rooted in the experience of the Jewish people being set free from slavery in Egypt.  For us, Jesus is identified was the sacrificed Passover lamb, both slain and eaten, and the unleavened Passover bread that was made in haste because they were fleeing the bitterness of slavery. To this day the heart of the Eucharistic prayer is rooted in the Jewish prayer of blessing, ‘Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu’, ‘Blessed are you O Lord our G_d’.

In our first reading we see that, ’’Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord’.  It is their response to this Word that is decisive for us, they say, ’’All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do’.  This is repeated twice by way of emphasis. To this same end, the letter of James reminds us, ’Be doers of the Word and not hearers only’.  Moses, who for us represents Christ in our midst, feeds us with the Bread of God’s Word’.  Our response is to be doers of this word, a word that becomes flesh, then and now.  It is in this readiness for obedience to the word of God that the people of God are sprinkled with the Blood of the Covenant.  For us this also represents the Blood of Christ ’poured out for the many’, for the forgiveness of sins.

The Jewish scriptures, the Old Testament are filled with Eucharistic undertows.  From the Manna in the desert, the bread from heaven that sustained the freed slaves in their 40 year journey to the promised land.  To the bread and oil that fed the Prophet Elijah for 40 days.  To the bread of the presence In the Ark of the Covenant, in the Holy of Holies.  All these events point forward to their fulfillment in the person of Jesus and his great gift to us, the Eucharist

And finally, we come to the Last Supper itself, a Passover meal, but more than a Passover meal.  An act of re-membrance that makes present in the here and now, the saving deeds of the past, but more than this, the definitive passing over from life, through death, to life again.  The death and resurrection of Christ, ’Body broken’, ’Blood poured out’. ‘Do this in memory of me’. A memory that reaches not just into the past but into an anticipated future, a promise fulfilled, a sustained presence. ’I will be with you until the end of the age’.

The real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is a dynamic personal presence, the original saving events of Jesus’ Paschal mystery, namely his Death, Resurrection, and Ascension, are alive and made present in the here and now whenever the Eucharist is celebrated.  Whereas all the other sacraments are about Jesus, point to Jesus, and make sense only in relationship to Jesus.  The Eucharist is Jesus.  As one author puts it. ’’This sacrament contains in itself all the graces and effects of the other sacraments, and is indeed, the cause of all the other sacraments’’.  The Eucharist is our Manna in the desert, our Bread in the wilderness, our paschal sacrifice that sets us free and makes us whole.

The Eucharist is the Body of Christ that transforms us into the Body of Christ, a broken body, the brokenness of Jesus, broken for us and for the world, joined forever to our brokenness, turning us into the Bread of God, food for the world, a broken world hungry for the Word made Flesh. His flesh, your flesh. Eucharist!

The Chief medical Health Officer of Kingston has ordered that Masks must be worn at all places we gather indoors. That includes us here at the cathedral. We can’t supply everyone with a mask so please come with one. We would have a limited supply available for a loonie at the entrance of the cathedral.
Please read and observe the six key principles outlined below.

1) The key principle is that we come to Mass to worship God. Out of justice and exercising the virtue of religion we must give God what is God’s due. That quite simply is worship, adoration and praise. Thus, the absolute essentials of Mass will be included so that the Sacramental praise of God will take place and we will be exposed to one another for as brief a time as possible.

2) The second key principle is that the health and safety of parishioners, staff and clergy here at St. Mary’s are essential and require our utmost concern and attention. Therefore, the dispensation from the obligation to come to Sunday Mass by Archbishop Mulhall continues to be in effect. Those who are sick, elderly or have other critical health concerns should not come at this time. However, that is left to your discretion. Should you make the choice to come, knowing the risks, you are most welcome.

3) The underlying principle of all of our restrictions in isolating, physically distancing, wearing masks etc. is the common good as we live out the Lord’s commission to “love one another.” We are to care for each other and at this time we are called to be as prudent and careful as we can to protect the health of everyone else and ourselves.
4) The principle for the next few weeks will be brevity. The received scientific wisdom is that the virus spreads within groups who spend a prolonged period of time together. Therefore, we will be reducing the Mass to the bare essentials.
5) Singing is considered more dangerous than speaking so you are asked to please not sing at all throughout the Mass. I will not be singing either.
6) If you have any sickness, are elderly or have a critical illness you should remain at home. The dispensation from the obligation to come to Mass continues through this time of 30% capacity. Of course, if you choose to come you will not be turned away. We will continue to live- stream the Masses until we are back to a more normal arrangement.

The Chief medical Health Officer has ordered that Masks must be worn at all places we gather indoors. That includes us here at the cathedral. We can’t supply everyone with a mask so please come with one. We would have a limited supply available for a loonie at the entrance of the cathedral.
We will pray a shorter Penitential Rite.
The Gloria will be said not sung. There is to be no singing by the congregation during the Mass. Only by a cantor or as we have today a physically distanced choir in the choir loft…3 metres apart.
We will only have one reading followed by the Psalm
The second reading will be omitted.
The choir will sing the Alleluia on Sundays. During the week it will be omitted. Please do not join in.
The Gospel.
A very brief (3-4 minute) homily will follow.
The Creed will not be prayed.
There will be no petitions. Please prepare your own petitions and offer them in your heart during the Mass.
There will be no procession of the gifts.
There will be no regular collections at this time in the Masses. It will happen later. Ushers will be at the doors to receive your offering as you leave.
The Eucharistic Prayer will be prayed. This is the Most Important Part of the Mass.
The Our Father
Sign of Peace. This is a time when we won’t shake hands. Please do not wave to each other or give the two finger sign of peace. Neither of these reflect what is the intention here…You are recognizing the presence of God in the other person and praying they know God’s peace. The most appropriate gesture is a slight bow or nod of the head to the other person. You have seen me do this at the sign of peace to all of you at every Sunday Liturgy.
Please be seated.
Then the ushers will direct you to the place where you will receive Holy Communion. Please do not leave your pew until an usher has indicated you should do so.
Another usher will be close to the Communion Station to receive your Sunday Offering.
When it is your turn to receive Holy Communion. You will stand 6 feet away on the red line. The person distributing Holy Communion will say “The Body of Christ”. You will say “Amen”. Then move forward within arms length and receive the Host. Once you have received go straight out the nearest exit and make your Thanksgiving on your way home.
Aisles 1 & 5 will come forward to receive Holy Communion and leave by the side doors.
Aisles 2, 3 & 4 will go to the back to receive Holy Communion.
Aisle 2 will exit by the exit closest to the rectory.
Aisle 3 will exit out the centre door which you came in
Aisle 4 will exit out the door by the washrooms.
You are strongly encouraged to receive Holy Communion in the hand. Receiving on the tongue endangers the person giving Holy Communion and yourself, the person receiving Holy Communion. If you wish to insist on receiving on the tongue please wait until the very end as the person giving Holy Communion should sanitize their hands after each communicant. The usher will pass you by and will come back to you after everyone else has received. Please don’t leave your pew until that has taken place.