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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Corpus Christi: God Became Flesh in Order to Be Man's Eternal Food

On June 18, 2017, Catholics in the United States will celebrate Corpus Christi Sunday; but today, Thursday, June 15, we celebrate it here in Austria with Mass and Eucharistic Procession.

by Lawrence Fox 

It was Sunday morning in Centennial Colorado; late spring as I remember. It rained the night before and the air and soil were damp even though the sun was fully exposed. Nature was slurping the wet soil and bathing in sunlight. 

Sunday morning in the Fox household is one of hectic preparation so as to make Mass on time at St. Thomas Moore Catholic Church. Afterwards, we usually went to Sunday brunch, read or watched a movie. Sunday is a day of feasting.

While waiting for others to get ready, I glanced out the main large window in the front of the house. I noticed a flutter of movements in the branches and leaves of the white birch trees planted in our front yard. 

That morning the whiteness of the bark stood out vividly against the green leaves. I went outside to observe the commotion more closely. Swallows and wrens were frantically hopping from branch to branch in search of  nature’s generosity. It became apparent to me that the birch tree was functioning as a dynamic bird feeder. 

I moved several of the green leaves and there were -- to my chagrin -- tiny green aphids slowly digesting the underbelly of the tree’s tender leaves. Theirs was a short feast since  an army of lady bugs crawled up and down
thin branches onto the leaves where they ate the aphids. The small birds were aware of my presence but they were indifferent because they had mouths to feed. They were scooping up lady bugs, soaring away to their nests and bringing masticated groceries to their young.

I turned my focus to the ground and I saw how far the root system of the tree extended in all directions. I thought, “An integral part of nature is consumption.”

The tree was taking water from the soil, carbon dioxide from the air, and UV energy from the sun, converting it into cellulose and oxygen. The living tree was feeding upon the
non-living earth, and then offering its own life in return to little mobile sensing creatures, which were in return being consumed by other insects. These were being gobbled up by sensing birds able to move rapidly. 

The tree was not aware of these activities on any sensible level. The insects seemed oblivious of their own impending doom. The birds were aware of the insects and my presence. I was aware of the whole event both subjectively and objectively. 

I say subjectively since I was aware of my own emotions observing such consumption. And I was objectively aware that the various activities in the tree existed apart from me. With the help of my senses, I assembled images of what was taking place which were stored for later reflection. 

My momentary observation of the cosmos was interrupted by a voice in the house, “It is time to go!” 

The Roman Catholic Mass is ordered so that each person’s inner conversation moves from
Pope Francis offers Holy Mass 
external distractions towards the worship of God -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit -- the Source of All Being.

The summit of Catholic worship, the celebration of the Mass, is a time of feasting on God’s Spoken and Incarnate Word. During the liturgy of the Eucharist, the Catholic communicant hears the priest say, “Body of Christ.” He responds “Amen,” meaning “I believe.” He receives the offered host. The communicant then hears “Blood of Christ,” and responds “Amen.” He drinks from
Lawrence Fox receives Communion
 in the Byzantine Rite Divine Liturgy, i.e. Mass
the chalice. 

When I heard those words that day, I recognized something about the humility of God and His great passion for created man, whom He made male and female. 

Created nature both feeds and consumes itself. God the Creator feeds nature and He is consumed Himself by a small part of that created nature. Man feeds upon created nature for physical life and feeds upon the Source of All Being for the sake of eternal life. 

God became flesh in order to be man’s eternal food. Both the cosmos and the Eucharist are instituted by God. In both, the essence of each thing is real and not symbolic.

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