by Ken Rolheiser
This is my Body, this is my Blood

In a letter to her son who was about to be ordained, a Mexican mystic said, “When you hold the Holy Host in your hand do not say, ‘Behold the Body of Jesus and Behold His Blood’, but say, ‘This is my Body; This is my Blood.’”

“You must lose yourself in Him, to be another Jesus,” Concepcion Cabrera de Armida, said. This is not just for bishops and priests, but for all the baptised says Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the Papal household since 1980.

“The faithful, in virtue of their royal priesthood, join in the offering of the Eucharist… Taking part in the Eucharistic sacrifice… They offer the Divine Victim to God, and offer themselves along with it” (Lumen Gentium, 10,11).

This is a challenging theology that moves us beyond anything we could imagine. It follows then that there are two gifts offered on the altar, Cantalamessa says. The first is bread and wine, which will become the Body and Blood of Christ; and the second is the mystical body of Christ, the Church.

The prayer after the consecration confirms this: “Grant in your loving kindness to all who partake of this one Bread and one Chalice that, gathered into one body by the Holy Spirit, they may truly become a living sacrifice in Christ.”

Now what does that mean for us? How do we offer our body and blood on the altar? We offer more than the weekly donation. Everything that makes up our lives is offered to God: our work, time, health, energy, talents and even our sufferings. Especially our sufferings.

We quite literally offer up our failures, diseases and all that comes with old age. We offer our mortality to God. To help us understand this gift we offer to God Cantalamessa shares this little illustration:

Imagine the oldest son of a large family offering a precious and expensive birthday gift to his father. All the family members cannot offer such an extravagant gift, but they can all affix their signatures to the card.

This is what happens in the sacrifice of the Mass. Jesus offers his Father the most extravagant gift of his very life. We affix our signatures when we offer all that we can add – our very lives and all that we are.

Perhaps we do not always come to the full realization of what happens at our Sunday Masses and celebrations. But the Saints have been celebrating that reality through the centuries. St Ignatius of Antioch, on his way to Rome to die as a martyr wrote, “I am Christ’s wheat: may I be ground from the teeth of the beasts, to become pure bread for the Lord.”

I am reminded of the Eucharistic miracle of Lanciano, Italy, in 750. This is one of many such miracles including Lourdes where the first miracle occurred as the Blessed Sacrament passed by a man suffering a fatal disease ataraxia. He was cured instantly.

At Lanciano a priest was having doubts about the true presence of Christ. As he finished the consecration, he noticed the Host had been transformed into Flesh and the wine into Blood. He began to weep and beg God’s pardon.

Many of the faithful testified to this event and research showed the Flesh to be heart tissue and the Blood to be Type O, the same blood type found on the Shroud of Turin.

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