We are in the octave of Corpus Christi, the celebration of the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. The celebration falls on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, marking the end of the seasons of Eastertide, Ascensiontide, and Whitsuntide, a span of rebirth that now continues in the Holy Eucharist. In my fifth novel, The Magdalene Mystery , I included a Corpus Christi procession, the traditional Rome solemnity, processing from the Lateran Basilica to the Basilica of Mary Maggiore. It is a kind of pilgrimage (and part of the ancient pilgrim’s route), praying with one’s feet, the Host in a monstrance on an altar within a canopy, carried reverently in the procession. It is a somber but happy celebration of the Presence of Christ among us and within us, an ongoing feeding in this life that continues the work of rebirth and re-creation and salvation begun in Baptism.
It is a mystery and miracle, this intersection of time and Eternity, made accessible to those who believe. I can only witness what I have found to be true, that regular reception of Christ in the Holy Eucharist strengthens me, gives me direction for the day, for the week, for my time on Earth. And it is not all my imagining, my conjuring. Something wonderful happens. I am slightly changed with every Mass. I have looked into my heart and confessed my sins; I have been forgiven and cleansed; I have been fed with the Real Presence of Christ; I have sung thanksgivings and glorias; I have been a physical part of Christ’s Body the Church and at the same time allowed Christ’s Presence in the Host to sanctify me, ready me for Eternal Life. Mystery and miracle; repentance and rebirth. Every time.
Today is Father’s Day as well, a time to honor the fathers in our lives, wherever they be. God the Father reached into our world to give us his son. And God the Father created fathers and mothers to have children and celebrate their life and love together as families. Man is fallen, however, and the ideal is not always lived out. Still just as God the Father reached into our time to redeem us, so we reach for the ideals he has given us in this life. And when we fail, we confess, repent, and are reborn to try again. Christ reaches for us and raises us up on our feet again. We have the Ten Commandments as the foundation for morality, and we have Holy Scripture and the Church leading us, teaching us how to love, interpreting Eternity in real time. We are not alone.
And so we are enter the Trinity season, a season of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. It is a green season of growth, a time to enrich our souls and bodies with the knowledge of God. We recite the ancient creeds that distill this marvelous theology into poetic phrases of jeweled meaning. Behind each word and phrase is a world of words, a library of thought, discoveries made by our Fathers in God, our clergy. We are given this wealth of wonder and in our limited time on earth we try not to squander. We live life with love. We seek the truth and beauty of all creation and sanctify it.
In The Magdalene Mystery, to be re-issued this year by En Route Books and Media, I attempted to create a work that embodied our faith. The characters seek answers in Rome’s churches, through clues in the Apostles Creed, and slowly, praying with their hearts and minds, and yes, their feet, they discover the truth about what happened two thousand years ago on a hill outside Jerusalem and in a cave-tomb three days later. They learn what we can know of history and what we have good reason to believe.
Today as I listened to our Father Napier in our Berkeley chapel preach on these many glorious things, he offered an image I will never forget. He said he had considered we might have a Corpus Christi procession in the streets of Berkeley, but he wasn’t sure how such a procession would be received. Then his face glowed as he said quietly, but then, you see, we are all monstrances in the streets of our towns. Christ is in us and we are in Christ, as Scripture said today. When we receive the Bread of Heaven, Christ’s Real Presence, we become living monstrances.
And so Christians walk the earth, carrying Our Lord with them, within them, to love one another.