Fr. Mike Lagrimas’ Homily for Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday

April 21, 2011

“I Am With You Always!”

Jn 13:1-15

“It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without Holy Mass.” This statement may sound extremely unrealistic, but it came from St. Padre Pio de Pietrelcina. Definitely, he is just stating a truth that he discovered through his profound intimacy with the Lord in the Eucharist. For the world to survive, the Holy Mass is essential and infinitely more valuable than the sun or anything else. Today, as we celebrate the Feast of the Institution of the Eucharist by Jesus at the Last Supper, let me share with you a story that illustrates this truth.

This comes from Fr. Robert deGrandis, SSJ, a well-known author and speaker in America. In one of his books, he wrote: “NASA, the American Space Agency, did some experimenting with a special type of camera that could see the energy levels in the human body. This is then seen on a monitor. This energy shows up as an aura around the body. NASA’s interest in the experiment was to investigate the effects of space travel on astronauts in orbit. Experimenting in a hospital, they discovered that when a person is dying, the aura (I think this is energy) around the body is thinner and it gets thinner and thinner until the person dies. The scientist carrying out this investigation in the hospital and his associate were behind a two-way mirror. They could see with their camera another man coming into the room with light coming from his pocket. Then the man took the object from his pocket and did something so that in the camera the whole room was filled with light and with their camera they could no longer see what was happening. They ran to the room to see what was causing so much light to appear in their camera. They discovered that the dying man was being given Holy Communion. Afterwards with their camera, they could see that the aura around him was brighter. Although in his fifties, the scientist conducting the experiment decided to become a priest after witnessing that.” (“Healing through the Mass,” Resurrection Press, pp. 84-85.)

The Eucharist is a living and powerful sacrament. And the Church has countless Eucharistic miracles to prove this truth in her two thousand years of history. For, indeed, Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. Though it has the appearance of bread and wine, it is Jesus really present, as he plainly and directly said: “This is my Body. This is my Blood.”

One day St. Teresa of Avila heard someone say: “If only I had lived at the time of Jesus… If only I had seen Jesus… If only I had talked with Jesus…” To this she responded: “But do we not have in the Eucharist the living, true and real Jesus present before us? Why look for more?…In Communion the event is happening now, and it is entirely true. There’s no reason to go looking for Him in some other place far away… In the presence of Jesus in the Holy Sacrament, we ought to be like the Blessed in heaven before the Divine Essence.”

Before his ascension into heaven, Jesus told his followers: “I am with you always until the end of time” (Mt 28:20). Note the use of the present tense, instead of the future tense, for he is not just promising something; rather, he is stating a fact: “I am with you always.” It was because, days before his ascension, at the Last Supper, Jesus has already instituted the sacrament of his Real Presence.

And to make sure that his presence will be perpetuated, he commanded his apostles: “Do this in memory of me.” By this, he also instituted the sacrament of the ministerial priesthood. The Eucharist is a memorial, not only in the sense of remembering a past event, but more especially, making present the one and eternal sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. This sacrament was entrusted to the priests who, acting “in persona Christi” (in the person of Christ), offer his bloodless sacrifice on the altar of the Eucharist, until he comes again in glory.

Why, then, would Jesus desire to be with us always? The answer is obvious: it is because of love. He wants to remain with us so that he can continually nourish us with his life-giving Body and Blood as we journey towards our heavenly home. He chooses to humble himself, and be hidden under the species of a lowly bread and ordinary wine, so that we can approach his divinity without fear and shame. He allows himself to be consumed by us in Holy Communion, so that he can be with us and be in us.

What is the relevance of the Eucharist in the world today? We all know that the present world is beset with all sorts of problems and troubles. Pope Benedict XVI is so bold as to tell us that the Eucharist, worthily received by faithful Christians, can transform this world. He said, “Communicate the hope of the Gospel and the strength to build a society that is more just and more worthy of man…from the source, from the Eucharist. Indeed it is from the Eucharist, in which Christ makes Himself present in His supreme act of love for us all, that we learn to live as Christians in society, so as to make it more welcoming, more united, richer in love, and more attentive to everyone’s needs especially those of the weakest.” (Mar. 26, 2011).

The Eucharist has the power to transform us and thereby transform the world as well. This truth is shown to us when, during the Last Supper, at the institution of the sacrament of the Eucharist, Jesus bent down and washed the feet of his apostles. Afterwards, he gave this challenge: “If I, therefore, the Master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet…I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” And then, he left us with this all-important command: “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you.” The Eucharist nourishes and transforms us, making us more like Jesus. And as we endeavor to follow and imitate his love and selfless service for the needy, we also become potent agents of transformation of our society and of the whole world.

Let us praise and glorify God today for the gift of the Eucharist. It assures us of the loving and abiding presence of Jesus in our lives. Let us also thank God for the gift of the ministerial priesthood that ensures the continuous offering of the sacrifice of Jesus. And let us ask the Lord for the grace to remain faithful to the truth of his real presence in this most august sacrament, and to enable us to obey his commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Fr. Mike Lagrimas

St. Teresa Church

141 Henry Street

New York, NY 10002

This is the power, the reality, the healing love that is offered to each one of us every time we take part in the Holy Eucharist. A priest who is a friend of mine once told me about a woman who had said to him, “I am not a Catholic.  But if I believed what you Catholics say you believe about the Mass, I would crawl on my knees to be there every day.”

Healing: God’s Work Among Us – John Bertolucci

“If we don’t want to be fools and blind the intellect there’s no reason for doubt. Receiving Communion is not like picturing with the imagination, as when we reflect upon the Lord on the cross or in other episodes of the Passion, when we picture within ourselves how things happened to Him in the past. In Communion the event is happening now, and it is entirely true. There’s no reason to go looking for Him in some other place far away” – St. Teresa of Avila

Faith-filled Attention

St. Teresa warns us not to receive communion simply out of routine or with a lack of full attention. In her ‘Meditations on the Song of Songs’ she writes:

‘I think that if we were to approach the Most Blessed Sacrament with great faith and love, once would be enough to make us rich. How much richer from approaching so many times as we do. The trouble is we do so out of routine, and it shows.’ (M. 3:13)

Living faith recognizes Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament

“After having received the Lord, since you have the Person Himself present, strive to close the eyes of the body and open those of the soul and look into your heart. For I tell you again, and would like to tell you many times that you should acquire the habit of doing this every time – you receive Communion and strive to have such a conscience that you will be allowed to enjoy this blessing frequently. Though He comes disguised, the disguise as I have said, does not prevent Him from being recognized in many ways, in conformity with the desire we have to see Him. And you can desire to see Him so much that He will reveal Himself to you entirely.” – St. Teresa of Avila: Way of Perfection 34:12.

Deep Secrets revealed in Communion

“One day, when I had just communicated, I was shown how the Most Sacred Body of Christ is received by His Father within our soul. So now I understand and have these Divine Persons are there, and how pleasing to God is this offering of His Son, since He delights and rejoices in Him, as we may say, here on earth, for it is not His Humanity that is within us in the soul but His Divinity, and it is not for that reason that He is so pleasing and acceptable to Him and that He grants us such favors.” – St. Teresa of Avila: Spiritual Testimonies 52 – Vol. 1 pg. 346.

“To remember is to bring the heart back in memory and affection, but it is also celebration of a presence ever with us. The Eucharist arouses in us the memory of Christ’s love. In the Eucharist, Christians nourish the hope of the final meeting with their Lord. The Eucharist is the memorial in the full sense: the bread and the wine, through the action of the Holy Spirit, truly become the Body and Blood of Christ, who gives himself to be the food of men and women on their earthly pilgrimage. To stay faithful to this mandate, to abide in him like branches joined to the vine and to love as he loved, it is necessary to be nourished with his Body and his Blood. In telling the apostles: ‘Do this in memory of me,’ the Lord bound the Church to the living memorial of his Passover.” (“Sacramentum and Exemplum: the Gift and the Task, Biblical Reflection for Holy Thursday,” Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB)

“Satisfaction Guaranteed” – in worldly products – how about in the Eucharist?

“When Mass is celebrated, the sanctuary is filled with countless angels who adore the Divine Victim immolated on the altar.” – St. John Chrysostom

Hear Mass daily; it will prosper the whole day. All your duties will be performed the better for it, and your soul will be stronger to bear its daily cross. The Mass is the most holy act of religion; you can do nothing that can give greater glory to God or be more profitable for your soul than to hear Mass both frequently and devoutly. It is the favorite devotion of the saints. — St. Peter Julian Eymard

Wednesday, St. John Neumann, Redemptorist Priest, Bishop, Bohemia (1811-1860):

Despite safety concerns and criticism, St. John started 40 hours of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the U.S..  One night, he fell asleep while working at his desk.  The candle on the desk overturned and all of his papers burned, except the letter he wrote about 40 hours.  God seemed to tell him: “As the flames are burning here without consuming or injuring the writing, so shall I pour out My grace in the Blessed Sacrament without prejudice to My honor. Therefore, do not fear profanation and do not hesitate any longer to carry out your designs for My glory.”  St. John began and spread 40 hours, and people came to adore Jesus in droves!

First Approved Apparition on American Soil!

Through this apparition, heaven has told us once again what we must do to rebuild marriage & family life. On December 8, 2010, the feast day of the Immaculate Conception, Bishop Ricken gave official Church approval of the Marian apparitions that occurred in the month of October 1859 in Champion, Wisconsin. Here is the main dialogue from the apparition: 

“I am the Queen of Heaven, who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same. You received Holy Communion this morning, and that is well. But you must do more. Make a general confession, and offer Communion for the conversion of sinners. If they do not convert and do penance, my Son will be obliged to punish them.”

“What more can I do, dear Lady?” said Adele (the visionary), weeping.

“Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation.”

“But how shall I teach them who know so little myself?” replied Adele.

” ‘Teach them,’ replied her radiant visitor, ‘their catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the Cross, and how to approach the sacraments; that is what I wish you to do. Go and fear nothing. I will help you.’ “

1 comment for “Fr. Mike Lagrimas’ Homily for Holy Thursday

  1. Russ Lentol
    April 3, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Can anyone tell me when this NASA experiment in the hospital done? It’s a beautiful example of the Truth that goes beyond Faith (which is enough).

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