The Eucharist and St. John Bosco

Homily for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi - the Body and Blood of Jesus

by Fr. Tommy Lane

John Bosco's DreamFor sixty years St. John Bosco received remarkable dreams which were almost visions. Probably his best-known dream-vision was that of the Church like a ship taking refuge between two pillars in the sea. In May 1862 he shared his experience of this dream. He could see a very big ship in the sea which he understood as the Church. There were many smaller ships drawn up to do battle against the big ship, they were the enemies of the Church and persecutions. Two pillars or columns were protruding from the sea a little distant from each other. On the top of one was a statue of Our Lady with Help of Christians written beneath. On top of the other pillar was a host beneath which was written Salvation of the Faithful. The commander of the ship was the Pope. He was directing all his energies to steering the ship between those two columns or pillars. All the enemy ships moved to attack. Sometimes the large ship, the Church, got large, deep holes in its sides, but no sooner was the harm done than a gentle breeze blew from the two columns and the cracks closed up and the gaps were stopped immediately. In a battle the Pope fell gravely wounded. Immediately those who were with him helped him up. A second time the Pope was struck, this time he fell and died. The new Pope was so promptly chosen that the enemies begin to lose courage. The new Pope overcame all obstacles and enemies and guided the ship right between the two columns. He fastened a chain from the bow of the ship to the column on which stands the host, and fastened a chain from the ship’s stern to the column on which stands a statue of Our Lady. All the ships which had fought against the Pope’s ship were scattered and broken to pieces and other smaller ships which had fought for the Pope’s ship now bound themselves to the same two columns.

We can identify with so many elements of that dream-vision. We remember Pope John Paul II falling wounded and rising again. The Church is undergoing trials at this time in the western world and elsewhere the Church is also suffering. A book I purchased recently gives an account of Catholics all over the world who were martyred during the twentieth century, more than in any previous century. In this remarkable dream-vision experienced by St. John Bosco the Church has two means to save itself in the midst of her persecutions; devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist and devotion to Our Lady. On this Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Jesus, we highlight one of those two pillars, devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist.

I ask you to think again about the importance of Jesus in the Eucharist in your life. Make Jesus in the Eucharist the center of your life once again. In moments from now the bread and wine will become the Body and Blood of Jesus during the consecration of the Mass. The bread and wine will not be symbols but will be changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus. Jesus will be really present although under the form of bread and wine. That is why we talk about the “Real Presence” of Jesus in the Eucharist. Because we love Jesus in the Eucharist so much, we have Perpetual Eucharist Adoration in most of the towns of this diocese, and most other parishes have a period of adoration of the Eucharist sometime each week or month. We all know how popular healing Masses are. Almost always during those healing Masses the healing occurs when people are blessed with Jesus in the monstrance. So let us place Jesus in the Eucharist at the center of our lives.

A most special moment of Eucharistic Adoration for all of us is when we receive Jesus in Holy Communion. Then as Jesus said in the Gospel today (Year A), “he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him.” (John 6:56) There are no words to describe that most precious moment when you return to your seat to spend quiet moments with Jesus. You are one with Jesus and he is one with you. It is a moment of intimacy with Jesus, when you and Jesus are “all wrapped up in each other”, “he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him.” (John 6:56) During healing Masses the healings have also occurred during this moment after receiving Jesus in Holy Communion. Treasure these personal intimate moments between yourself and Jesus, “he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him.” One of the pillars to save the Church in St. John Bosco’s dream was the Eucharist. May Jesus in the Eucharist be the center of the lives of each of us, “he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him.”

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

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Faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and Eucharistic Miracles

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