In today’s age of scepticism, we’re reluctant to believe something until we see it with our own eyes. As the saying goes, “seeing is believing.” When it comes to the Eucharist for two thousand years the Church has insisted that through the prayer of consecration in the Mass the Eucharistic elements of bread and wine become really, truly, substantially the Body and Blood of Christ. The Church has given this miraculous transformation the technical name of transubstantiation. Our eyes cannot witness the change that takes place yet at every Mass we make an act of faith that God is true to his word. When at the Last Supper Jesus said, “this is my body” we assume he meant what he said. So too in the Mass Christ speaking through the priest as through an instrument effects this marvellous transformation. In the year 2016 do we Catholics dare still believe something so radically, mind-bendingly stupendous? Are we permitted to entertain a doubt that perhaps we’re exaggerating matters in this regard?
Well, we wouldn’t be the first to entertain such doubts. In 1263 a Bohemian priest by the name of Peter of Prague began having serious doubts about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. He was sufficiently troubled that he decided to undertake a pilgrimage to Rome in the hope of having his faith strengthened. On the way to Rome he stopped at the small town of Bolsena, Italy, and there offered Mass. To his astonishment at the words of consecration the host in his hands began to bleed, and the blood trickled onto the corporal cloth laid out on the altar. Both stunned and terrified by this prodigy he initially tried to hide the blood, before realising that he could not continue the Mass. In God’s providence it happened that at that time Pope Urban IV was residing in his summer residence in the neighbouring town of Orvieto. Peter of Prague sought out the Pope, explained what had happened and sought his absolution. Urban IV had the local bishop thoroughly investigate the matter and having determined its authenticity had the blood-stained corporal processed with great solemnity to the cathedral at Orvieto. It was placed in a purpose made reliquary where it remains on display to this day for the veneration of the faithful.
As the autumn rains see the place slowly ‘greening up’ the Church also returns to the green of Ordinary Time, to remind us of the continual, steady growth of the Church. Happily, there are also many positive signs of growth in Our Lady’s parish too! We recently announced the approval of the name of ‘Blessed Oscar Romero Primary School’ which is scheduled to open its doors in 2018. This will be the fourth Primary School in the Parish, highlighting the ongoing growth and development of Craigieburn which we see all around us.
Our Lady’s Youth Group
Our Lady’s Parish is also blessed to have many young people in our congregation. As a parish we are mindful of our obligation to provide for their spiritual needs, to see that they are supported and nourished in their faith. After much thought and planning it is with great joy that we can announce the beginning of the new parish Youth Group. We have a dedicated team of young leaders who will coordinate the running of the group. The plan is to meet following the 6:00pm Mass at Good Samaritan, on the second Sunday of every month. To kick start the group there will be a screening of the Christian film, War Room (2015) by the producers of the surprise box-office hit, Fireproof (2008).
Be merciful, as your heavenly Father is merciful
Giving and receiving mercy
Pope Francis has declared an ‘Extraordinary Year of Mercy’ for the whole church. Yet mercy is a concept that is easily misunderstood. You can’t learn it from a text book. Jesus told many parables to help us learn more about mercy - one such parable he told at a dinner party. There was once a creditor who had two men in his debt; one owed him five hundred denarii, the other fifty. They were unable to pay, so he let them both off. (Luke 7:41-42) Jesus asked the people: ‘Which of them will love him more, the person who is forgiven a little or the person who is forgiven much?’ For the people at the dinner party, the answer was obvious. His host spoke up and answered: ‘The one who is forgiven much.’ If we have never received mercy, or if we think that we don’t need mercy, then we won’t know how to show mercy to others.