Sunday, January 18, 2015

Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity

"Is that really Jesus?" a young boy asked his mother during the Consecration at Mass recently.  His wise mother replied, "Yes, that's Him on the altar."

“When I come to a human heart in Holy Communion, My hands are full of all sorts of graces which I want to give to the soul.”  ~Our Lord to St. Faustina


Recently, I had attended a funeral Mass where some of my non-Catholic friends were present.  They have a deep and abiding love for Jesus.   But like many non-Catholic Christians, they don't fully understand Catholicism, and it's often misunderstandings that rouse fear in the imagination, fear that can often regretfully lead to anti-Catholicism. When the time arrived to receive Holy Communion, I was sad and disheartened to see them receive Our Lord in the Eucharist even though they do not believe in the Real Presence of Christ and they most likely assumed that they were just receiving a meaningless wafer.  I know that they didn't intend to do anything hurtful or wrong, but simply did not understand the immensity of the Eucharist.

I felt a deep sorrow for Jesus at the thought of anyone receiving Him in the Eucharist without believing that He was truly present in the Host.  For a long time I wanted to say something to my friends, to try to evangelize and catechize them and to somehow help them to come around to the belief that it was truly Jesus' Body and Blood that they had ingested.  But after discussing it with a holy priest and good friend, I came to understand that it was better to remain silent, yet continue to pray for them and for all of those who don't realize the great gift of Christ coming to us Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist.

Since then it has occurred to me that perhaps Jesus wanted to come to them in the Eucharist that day.  My friends have endured a tremendous amount of suffering in recent years, more than most people could bear.  Maybe he wanted to love them in this very special way so as to bring them some peace and healing through the tremendous gift that was now residing within them without their awareness.  They might not have believed in the reality of His presence in the Host, but He believed in their love for Him, and for Jesus, perhaps that's enough.   His mysterious, mystical ways are not for us to understand, and yet we believe in faith that His goodness knows no bounds-not the bounds of denominations or lack of faith.  He loves us all and wants to be united to everyone.

I have never felt called to be an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, always feeling completely unworthy of that honor, but recently I have been asked to help in this capacity at my parish more and more often, and so I find myself standing beside the priest holding the Lord in my wretched hands and offering Him again and again to the long line of people hungry for His Love.  With each host that I place within the hands or mouth of the communicants, I try to remain aware of the grace that flows from the Host to the person standing before me awaiting the Body of the Lord.  I see the look of joy evident on the faces of those who receive and the anticipation for the future on the faces of those too young to receive.

Following Communion, the church sits in silence savoring the presence of the Lord within each person.  For those few precious moments there is a brightness emanating from so many souls now made into tabernacles containing the Body of Our Lord.  We have been Christed.  We hold Him so intimately within our bodies.  How can we not be gentle and tender and loving with ourselves and with others as we carry Him forth into the world?

Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from Christ's side, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy wounds hide me.
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee.
From the malicious enemy defend me.
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee
That I may praise Thee with Thy saints 

and with Thy angels
Forever and ever.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Bishop Donald Hying's Installation Mass

"What a blessing it is, our Catholic faith.  What a blessing it is, Jesus Christ and his Church and His Holy Word."  ~Bishop Donald Hying

The day that the invitation arrived in the mail, I was so overcome with joy that I could hardly contain myself.  Although Bishop Hying had asked me a few weeks earlier if my husband, Paul, and I would come to his installation in Gary to which I immediately replied "YES", there was something special about receiving that beautiful invitation, holding that card in my hand,  that made me realize that this was real, and that reminded me once again how deeply blessed I am that God would bring such a special, saintly and holy man into my life.  Although we had attended his episcopal ordination a little over three years ago I was still surprised that he would include me in this historic and beautiful event.  He is so holy and saintly and his life is so amazing that I feel very insignificant in comparison, and yet, his humility would never allow him to let on to me or to anyone else that he is anything other than ordinary.

It was with great anticipation and excitement that Paul and I took advantage of the arrangements that were being made for Bishop Hying's friends from Milwaukee to ride together on Coach buses to Gary, Indiana for the luncheon and Installation Mass on January 6th, 2015.

Unlike his episcopal ordination day when the temperature in Milwaukee was 102 degrees, the day of his installation was bitter cold with wind chills well below zero.  We found the comfort of riding on the warm bus to be very welcome.  A bonus of the bus ride was the opportunity for all of the passengers to pray the rosary together for Bishop Hying and then to watch his most recent film, CRUX, by Ahava Productions.  I highly encourage purchasing this magnificent film, to enjoy, and then to share with a friend.  It's available as a download or on a dvd at the Ahava Productions website.

When we arrived at the hotel where the luncheon was held we were delighted to see Bishop Hying waiting at the door to greet us!  A quick handshake and hug, and a peek at his ring to see if he was wearing his new one yet (he wasn't-he was still wearing the ring that his family gave to him at his episcopal ordination), and we moved along to the hall for a most delicious lunch that was awaiting us.

The luncheon was over all too soon, and once again 80 excited pilgrims climbed back onto the buses for the 30 minute ride from the suburban hotel to Holy Angels Cathedral in Gary.  As we approached the Cathedral I peered through the dirty bus windows and was struck and dismayed by the extreme poverty of the neighborhood surrounding the Cathedral.  Roofs were caved in on houses, and windows were boarded up or smashed, even the windows of a hospital.  When the steel industry left Gary in the eighties, it seems that it took much of the spirit of the city away, as well. The only business that appeared to be open was a little liquor store.  And our beloved Bishop Hying will be living and working right in the midst of that, which I'm sure is right up his alley as he has a great love for the poor and suffering.  He will bring a light to that neighborhood, God's light of joy and love, a light which seems to be sorely needed in Gary.  And yet, despite the decay of the buildings, it was obvious through everyone we met in the Diocese, that there is a love and beauty in the hearts of the people of Gary, a love that will surround Bishop Hying and fill his time in Gary with joy and happiness.

an abandoned Frank Lloyd Wright home (source)
The abandoned Ambassador Hotel in Gary (source)
Holy Angels Cathedral photo courtesy of Kevin Driscoll,  Catholic Young Adult Ministry-Diocese of Gary
Finally we arrived at Holy Angels Cathedral and the beauty and immensity of it caught me by surprise, especially since I had seen pictures of it online.  It is so much more beautiful in real life and pictures just don't do it justice.  What a contrast to the neighborhood!  The Cathedral, built in 1906 and designated a cathedral in 1956 when Gary became a diocese, was beautiful and well-maintained. My eye was immediately drawn to the soaring blue of the stained glass windows.  Paul and several other men on the bus were asked to carry a few boxes of Bishop Hying's belongings into the rectory. I went into the Cathedral, planning to save a seat for Paul and wave to him when I'd see him enter.  I was quickly escorted to a seat in the front of the Cathedral on the side of the altar.  When Paul joined me, he mentioned that Bishop Hying was waiting inside the rectory in a room filled with his boxes. Always quick with a humorous comment, the bishop joked that he didn't plan to unpack any of them, but would just use them for furniture!

photo courtesy of Terry Boldin

 Bishop Hying offers a huge smile to his family as he passes them during his entrance into the Cathedral.
Photo courtesy of Darlene Hying 

And then the Mass began!  Magnificent music accompanied the 25 bishops, and I don't know, probably about 70 priests and deacons, to the altar.  I stood on tiptoe straining my neck to see everyone, wishing I could stand on top of my pew for a better view, but of course, I didn't.  Most touching was the sight of Cardinal George who has been suffering from the effects of cancer.  From my vantage point I could see him pretty clearly throughout the Mass and my heart just ached for him. When Bishop Hying raised the host during the consecration and prayed "This is my Body, broken for you" I couldn't help but feel as though Cardinal George, kneeling at a prie dieu with his head in his hands, obviously drained, was physically praying those words with his whole body.  What a beautiful witness to suffering, very much like Pope John Paul II, that his presence contributed to the Mass. Please keep him in prayer.

Cardinal George is on the right
photo courtesy of Terry Boldin

I was very much struck by the fact that Bishop Hying read his homily.  In the seven years that I have known him, he has never read his homilies, but has always delivered them from memory, using only a few notes or perhaps coming up with what he was going to say on the spur of the moment.

Near the end of his moving Epiphany homily he said, "I'll let you in on a secret.  I'm completely deaf in my right ear.  So I'm glad the angel is on the left side of the Cathedra so I'll hear what the angel is saying to me."  Beautifully touching was when Bishop Hying mentioned that Bishop Melczek, his predecessor, would always be our bishop, our father, our brother and our friend and will be remembered during the consecration prayers at Mass as Bishop-emeritus, so that the diocese will continue to pray for him.  To the priests he said, "You will always have my heart and my cell phone number."  And to the lay leaders,volunteers and lay faithful he said "How I wish I could sit down in the kitchens of every home to get to know all of you and have a chat. That will happen I hope, one person, one kitchen, and one cup of coffee at a time."
the homily

reading his text
photo courtesy of Terry Boldin

photo courtesy of Terry Boldin

The entire Mass was filled with beauty and joy, and, although it lasted a full two hours, the time just flew, and all too soon we were once again climbing aboard the bus to head home.  My heart, so overjoyed for the good fortune of my friend, Bishop Hying, and God's obvious love for him in calling him to serve the Diocese of Gary, was suddenly sorrowing.  It was all over and I didn't have a chance to give him a final hug good-bye, as the bus needed to remain timely in its departure from Gary.

I'm grateful that Gary is a short three hour drive from Milwaukee and am hopeful that I'll be able to make future visits to Bishop Hying.  I pray that his time in Gary, which he remarked during the Mass that he sincerely hopes will be at least for the next 25 years, is filled with blessings and joy. Everyone we encountered in the Diocese of Gary was warm and welcoming to the visitors from Milwaukee and I am certain that Bishop Hying feels very welcome there, as well as deeply and immediately loved by all, for LOVE NEVER FAILS.

It's worth your time to watch the entire installation Mass below or here at this link, and in particular, to listen to Bishop Hying's beautiful homily.  The commentary offered throughout is fascinating and informative.  You will need to click ahead to 1:56:03 for the beginning of the Installation Mass.

I also encourage you to read this touching good-bye tribute from Archbishop Listecki found here and this well-written and interesting interview with Bishop Hying written by Jerry Davich of the Chicago Post Tribune found here.