by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
Father Walter Ciszek, an American Jesuit priest who spent 23 years in Russian prison camps, wrote in his memoirs about celebrating Mass for his fellow prisoners in Siberia.
In those days, the eucharistic fast was from midnight until the time holy Communion was received. Father Ciszek relates how he and his fellow prisoners would fast all day from the little food that was provided to them in order to receive the Eucharist at a secret evening Mass.
If they were discovered celebrating Mass, they would be severely punished. Yet, Father Ciszek and his fellow prisoners were willing to risk their health, well-being and lives to receive Our Lord in the Eucharist.
This Sunday, June 7, we celebrate the solemnity of Corpus Christi. The church provides this annual celebration, inviting us to deepen our appreciation of the great miracle in which we participate at each and every Eucharist.
Unlike Father Ciszek and his fellow Siberian concentration camp prisoners, the opportunity to receive the holy Eucharist is readily available to all of us. The church asks us to fast for only one hour before receiving holy Communion. We risk nothing in order to receive Our Lord in this Blessed Sacrament. Yet, sadly, not because of any risk to our safety and well-being, many choose to absent themselves from participating in the Eucharist, because giving God one hour or so of our week is just too much to ask.
Our annual inter-diocesan celebration of the solemnity of Corpus Christi will take place at the Lumen Christi Monastery of the Little Sisters of the Lamb in Kansas City, Kansas, at 36 S. Boeke. The celebration will begin with an outdoor Mass at noon, followed by an hour of eucharistic adoration, with the procession beginning at 2 p.m.
Some may prefer or need to participate at Mass in your own parish. Everyone is welcome to come for all or any portion of the celebration. If you are unable to come for Mass or adoration, I urge you to come for the procession. It will be beautiful to flood the streets of Kansas City, Kansas, with hundreds of Catholics professing publicly their love for Jesus and his presence in the Blessed Sacrament. After the final Benediction, there will be an ice cream social.
I encourage individuals and families to come and give public witness of your love for Our Lord’s unique presence in the Eucharist. The liturgy and procession will be beautiful thanks to the careful preparations of Little Sisters of the Lamb and so many others.
Parents, this is a perfect opportunity to encourage your children to develop a deeper love for Our Lord in this Blessed Sacrament. Is there any real reason that prevents your participation? Is there anything that could be more important than giving Our Lord this small amount of time for prayer and adoration?
Think of the witness of Father Ciszek and his fellow Siberian prisoners! What are we willing to sacrifice to receive and adore Our Lord in the Eucharist?