Holiness and Beauty: Tying the Knot

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For my flesh is food indeed,
and my blood is drink indeed.
He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood
abides in me, and I in him.
As the living Father sent me,
and I live because of the Father,
so he who eats me
will live because of me (John 6:55–57).

Two years ago, on the occasion of one of nine Requiem Masses offered after the death of Pope John Paul II, Msgr. Leonardo Sandri spoke of the Servant of God's lifelong devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. This week's Gospels — taken each day from the sixth chapter of Saint John — are an invitation to seek the Face of Christ and His Sacred Heart in the adorable mystery of the Eucharist. It seems to me that this invitation is addressed first of all to priests.

Today, as in the past, the Church will become resplendent with holiness through the spiritual renewal of the priesthood, and the spiritual renewal of the priesthood is inseparable from the restoration of eucharistic amazement to the Sacred Liturgy. Holiness and beauty are intrinsically related. The priest ties the knot that binds them one to the other: a humble awareness and joyful demonstration of the sacred in the celebration of the Holy Mysteries.

Here is an excerpt from Msgr. Sardi's homily given on 13 April 2005:

In Ecclesia de Eucharistia Pope John Paul II revealed to us the secret of his total dedication to Christ, to the Gospel, and to the Church: “For more than half a century,” wrote the Pope,” each day, since November 2 1946 on which I celebrated my first Mass in the crypt of Saint Leonard in the cathedral of Wawel in Krakow, my eyes have rested on the host and on the chalice. Each day my faith has been able to recognize in the consecrated bread and wine the Divine Wayfarer who one day walked alongside of the two disciples of Emmaus to open their eyes to the light and their hearts to hope.”

How great was his love for Christ really present in the Sacrament of the Altar! This love became a kind of invocation in the very title of his Apostolic Letter, Mane Nobiscum, Domine, his last document on the Year of the Eucharist. Stay with us, Lord! How can we not see in the death of the Pope, coinciding with the Pasch of the Year of the Eucharist a mysterious summons to the intensity with which John Paul II participated in the sacrifice of Christ? Each day, for over fifty years, he pronounced the words of the Consecration: “This is my Body offered in sacrifice for you.” In a very special way, the Pope made these words his own during the final period of his life in which he completed the total gift of himself. It was as if he continuously renewed his Totus tuus ego sum through the hands of the Mother of his Master, as we read in his spiritual testament. We who, as his collaborators, had the grace of accompanying him during these last months, followed with trepidation this most personal Mass in which the Pope, in union with the Passion of Christ, made the gift of his own person, through pain and suffering, to the Church and to the world.

Moreover, those who more closely shared the daily activity of the Pope, were witness to his profound love for the Eucharist. Before taking important decisions, he would always remain a long time before the Most Holy Sacrament, take with him into his private chapel the dossiers to be examined and reserving a planned time of reflection and prayer before the Tabernacle. Every choice in this way emerged only from his seeking the will of God for the true good of the Church.

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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