This is my body, this is my blood

Today I am asking a question which cannot really be answered. ‘What do we think we are doing?’  Traditionalist worship is such that if a Christian from the early centuries came along in a Tardis, they would recognise what is being done. Today we are doing what Christians have done from the earliest times: listening to the Scriptures, hearing a sermon, saying prayers, singing hymns. Together we ask God that the bread and wine will become the Body and Blood of Christ and we receive the gift of Holy Communion which we are given in our unworthiness. We do all this when we come here to Mass. But today we will also take the Blessed Sacrament in  procession outside the building and back again – probably to the puzzlement of any onlooker that may accidently see us.

So what do we think we are doing? Each one of us will have varying answers. I suppose that the answer will be a patchwork quilt of emotional response, years of repetition and the experience that comes with learned understanding, knowledge of arguments ‘for’ and ‘against’, the sub-conscious and the inexpressible.

Traditionalist worship is amazingly biblically based, do not let anyone convince you otherwise. The New Testament tells us that at the Last Supper, the Lord Jesus took bread into his sacred hands and said, ‘This is my body’. Likewise he took the wine and said ‘This is my blood’. He then told his disciples to do this in memory of him. Traditionalist Christians have been doing that ever since.

And this is what we do when the Eucharist is celebrated. We receive the Body and Blood, the Sacrament of the Altar, which somehow has become much more than it seems, and it changes us, sustains us, and makes us feel closer to God. We can’t explain it and no scientific experiment can prove or disprove it.

We also take some of the host and keep it in a sacrament house or tabernacle. Whilst this is a means of being able to take communion to the sick, it is also the presence of Jesus in the building and therefore a place before which to pray.

We are  encouraged to treat the sacramental presence with great reverence and respect. We are silent and prayerful when we make communion and when we pray before the blessed sacrament at other times. We are taught to protect the sacrament from harm. It is the most holy thing that we have

But then, today, on this feast of Corpus et Sanguis Christi to give it its full title - The Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ – we take that precious thing, which we protect and guard, out into the street. It will be carried through everything that there is outside the rarefied environment of the church. There will be people who do not care, who might mock and swear, and be hostile. There will be litter and dirt. All the hurley-burley of 21st Century life.

Some pious people might be horrified - exposing our Lord to such things! But we must not forget that he became man and experienced the very dregs of a brutish and hostile world. It seems right to me that once a year, Jesus, in that sacramental presence, goes into the world that he came to redeem and die for.

No-one is forced to believe, and many who look upon the Sacrament today will not. But Our Lord exposes himself to everyone, and waits patiently for them to respond. There may be one person in the street who looks upon the passing Sacrament and is drawn into a prayerful thought, a reaching out, even some kind of commitment.

It is not for us to presume that we should protect Our Lord too much. We are guardians of the Sacrament not its jailer.

And so, today we give hearty and grateful thanks that we were given the Sacrament for our salvation and succour in this world. And we pray that those who are currently outside, but ready, will be touched and moved to make a step towards the God rescues us.