The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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June 16, 2000 Issue
Bishop Morneau's Column
"Reflection on the Readings"

Bishop Robert Morneau
Bishop Robert Morneau

Deepening faith through hidden prayers

We are freed from every sin and evil because of the blood of Christ

June 25, The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

By Bishop Robert Morneau

Questions for reflection:

1. Which prayers in the Mass speak most deeply to your heart?

2. What do you bring to the Eucharist every Sunday?

3. How would an hour spent before the Eucharist in private prayer affect your personal and family life?

Over the years I keep returning to a favorite prayer that the priest says (inaudibly - thus a hidden prayer) just before receiving communion: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, by the will of the Father and the work of the Holy Spirit your death brought life to the world. By your holy body and blood free me from all my sins and from every evil. Keep me faithful to your teaching, and never let me be parted from you."

This prayer contains so much: the mystery of the Trinity, the humanity and divinity of Jesus (Incarnation), the fact of sin and evil, the desire for fidelity and intimacy. If all of us memorized this prayer and offered it before receiving Holy Communion, I am sure that our faith life would deepen in powerful ways.

God's will and the work of the Holy Spirit is clear: the salvation of human kind. That is why Moses and all the prophets were sent. They came to reveal to us the word of God and invite us into the covenant of grace. This invitation is crucial. Not to respond to it is to risk the loss of everything. Using the symbol of blood, Moses confirmed that the people would "heed and do" God's will. All the people had to do was cooperate with the action of the Holy Spirit.

In the book of Hebrews one thing is eminently clear: we are freed from our sins and every evil because of the blood of Christ. His death means our deliverance. There is no other source of liberation for the human spirit; there is no other way of overcoming sin and death. Now, through the body and blood of Christ, we have the promise of eternal inheritance.

In the Gospel, Jesus identifies himself as Teacher and instructs the disciples to prepare a room for the paschal meal. Then the lesson is given: "Take it; this is my body . . . This is my blood!" Our prayer is to remain faith to this teaching of total, absolute love and self-giving. Our prayer is never to be parted from the table of the Lord and divine intimacy.

But then came those fateful words: ". . . they went out to the Mount of Olives." We know the rest of the story: betrayal, cowardice, separation, torture, death. How desperately we need to pray that we be faithful and never separated from the Lord. The disciples' temptations will be ours as well.

There is another hidden (inaudible) prayer in the Mass that speaks powerfully to our feast today. It is said as the priest (or deacon) pours some water into the wine at the offertory time: "By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity."

Here is the heart of the Eucharist: Jesus sharing in our life and giving himself totally to us in order the Father's will and the work of the Holy Spirit might be accomplished. This silent, hidden, inaudible prayer deserves our serious attention.

(Bp. Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese.)

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