For Sunday, June 10, 2012
The Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ
Mark 14:12-16, 22-26
Recorded by musicians as diverse as country singers Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, Emmy award winning actress Kristin Chenoweth, the Irish traditional musician Padraigin Ni Uallachain, and the jazz saxophonist Chris Potter, the early 19th-century hymn "Just As I Am" has had a long and storied life. Written by the English hymnist Charlotte Elliot in 1835, the verses were a product of a spiritual crisis on the part of the author. Elliot's brother, the Rev. Henry Venn Elliot, a renowned English cleric, was preparing a charity bazaar to raise funds for a school to educate clergymen's daughters. His work would eventually lead to the founding, a year later, of St. Mary's Hall in Brighton, one of England's oldest schools for girls.
Because of her persistent illnesses Charlotte was an invalid for much of her life. She often despaired of having any usefulness, especially in religious efforts, when she compared herself to the great zeal of her two brothers who each served Anglican churches. As her brother set about the business of arranging the bazaar, Charlotte spent the night in distress and spiritual malaise. The next day, while the bazaar was in full swing, Charlotte began to write. Her hymn is a paean to the grace of God at work in even the greatest moments of doubt and despair.
Part of her text goes:
Just as I am, tho' tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
After their trek through the wilderness, at the foot of Mount Sinai, the Hebrew people accepted the covenant with the Lord, and it was sealed with the blood of bulls. They came to the Lord at that mountain, and the Lord made a covenant in which they became the Lord's chosen people. The blood oath that is described in the first reading from the Book of Exodus this weekend confirmed the promise.
In the second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews, the author reminds the readers that it is no longer the blood of goats and calves that affirms the covenant with the Lord. No longer does the priest sacrifice animals upon the altar to hand over a holocaust to the Lord. Instead, it is the blood of the high priest himself, Jesus Christ, which now seals the new and everlasting covenant.
It is his blood of the covenant that we drink and his body that we consume when we come forward in Communion. We come to the Lamb of God just as we are: poor, wretched, blind, with many a conflict, many a doubt. We come to the altar with all that we are, in whatever state we may be. And when we receive the sacrament of his body and blood, we find in him what we need.
Singers and musicians of such different and varied genres found it important to record the hymn "Just As I Am." When we come forward for Communion, the people of God, covenanted to Christ, sharers in his divine life, are just as different and varied. But like the various singers, we can all join in the hymn and sing together as we walk up the aisle to receive the sacrament, "Just as I am...O Lamb of God, I come! I come!"
Great and merciful God,
your Son gives us the sacrament of his body and blood
as a sign of the everlasting covenant that unites us in your love.
May your people be strengthened in holiness by this Communion,
and may our love be seen in acts of charity
toward all our brothers and sisters.
We ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
FORTNIGHT FOR FREEDOM—June 21–July 4
The Catholic Bishops have announced a special time of prayer leading up to Independence Day, 2012. The "Fortnight for Freedom" begins on June 21 and will include opportunities for prayer on a local and national level. For more information visit: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/fortnight-for-freedom/index.cfm. Parishes that use the publishing services of Liturgical Publications Inc can find cover art on the LPi Art & Media Portal with the keyword "Fortnight for Freedom."
PETER'S PENCE COLLECTION
Many dioceses will take up the annual collection to support the charitable works of the Holy Father (Peter's Pence) the weekend of June 23–24. Promotional materials are available from the UCSSB on their website at: http://usccb.org/catholic-giving/opportunities-for-giving/peters-pence/collection/index.cfm. Publishing partners of Liturgical Publication Inc (LPi) have easy access to these materials and much more through the exclusive LPi Art & Media Portal. For information on a free Art & Media Portal account visit: www.4LPi.com/bulletinsandnewsletters/resourcestools/portal.
POPE BENEDICT ON IMMIGRATION REFORM
An article by Fr. Tom Joyce, CMF, has been posted on the US Catholic website highlighting Pope Benedict's recent comments to the US bishops on immigration reform and the human dignity if migrants. You can read it at: www.uscatholic.org/blog/2012/06/pope-benedict-immigration-reform.
ELECTION SEASON GUIDELINES
With primaries winding down and political conventions on the horizon, the USCCB is encouraging pastors and parishes to be aware of the Dos and Don'ts during election season. Failure to observe certain specific guidelines could result in severe penalties to a congregation. For more information, see the guidelines at: http://usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/dos-and-donts-guidelines-during-election-season.cfm.
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