Wednesday October 31, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier
Holy Mass of Reparation for sins against the Eucharist
Reading I (Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14) Reading II (1 John 3:1-3)
Gospel (St. Matthew 5:1-12a)
Tonight we have gathered in a particular way to honor our Blessed Lord in the Eucharist. This very evening there will be a number of other people around our area who will also gather because of Our Lord's presence in the Eucharist, however, for the exact opposite reason of why we are here tonight. We live in the nation's second largest center of Satanism and the Satanists will gather at midnight this evening and they will celebrate a Black Mass.
A Black Mass is a sacrilegious Mass wherein if they have a priest who has left the priesthood and joined the Satanists, he will say Mass for them. I will not describe what happens because it is thoroughly unspeakable. If they do not have a priest, then they have to steal the Eucharist. They will violate Our Lord in the Eucharist in many despicable manners this evening.
And so tonight, as we celebrate all the saints, we also gather in a special way to be able to honor the Lord who has made them saints. What we need to be able to look at is what our own response to the Blessed Sacrament is. If nothing else, to bring any kind of good out of the horrible situation that will happen tonight, it is to be able to recognize that the people who hate God believe absolutely and unswervingly in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. They are not desecrating a piece of bread - they know that is not a piece of bread. They know that that is Jesus Christ and they know that He is God. That is why they do what they do. We need to understand that. Then, we need to look at ourselves and say, "How firm is my belief in the Real Presence? Is it firm enough that I am willing to suffer for the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament? Is it firm enough that I would be counted among those in the Gospel reading who would be persecuted on behalf of the Lord? Would people know that my faith in the Blessed Sacrament is so strong that I will defend it?"
I am reminded of a story of an elderly priest who was on a pilgrimage with a group from here that went down to Mexico. They were at the tomb of Miguel Pro, who had died as a martyr in Mexico. This priest had prayed at the tomb of Blessed Miguel Pro that, if it would be God's Will, he, too, might be able to be martyred. He was in his nineties at the time. Shortly thereafter, a group of young thugs - a little gang - showed up in the church. They came looking for the Blessed Sacrament. And this little ninety-year old priest went up the altar stairs and stood in front of the tabernacle and wrestled the tabernacle key out of the hands of these young people. He was thoroughly disappointed, however, that he did not get to die for the Eucharist. But nonetheless, he was willing to stand up for the Lord in the face of what would have appeared to be an absolutely hopeless situation on a natural level, and here a ninety-year old man takes on a gang of young people - and wins! He removed the key of the tabernacle from their hands, and when they went after the tabernacle, he wrapped his arms around it and he would not be pulled away from it. That is the grace of God because of his faith in the Real Presence. He was willing to put his life on the line for Jesus.
When we hear those words in the first reading today about all the saints, they are innumerable, Saint John tells us, "from every nation, people, race, tongue, and tribe." All these people are gathered before the throne of God and the Lamb. They worship God: they fall down, they sing to Him a new song that He is worthy of all worship, honor, adoration, and so on. We need to ask ourselves: What is Heaven going to be? It is something, Saint Paul reminds us, that "eye has not seen and ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned on the imagination of man what God has prepared for those who love Him". It is going to be the worship of the Lamb of God. It is going to be a heavenly banquet. It is going to be Mass for all eternity. It is going to be the worship of Jesus Christ, who is the Lamb of God who was slain for us. And He is present in the Eucharist.
We hear those words from Saint John in the second reading, that what we will be has not yet come to light, but we know that when we get to Heaven we will be like Him for we will see Him as He is. He is present in the Blessed Sacrament and it is really and truly Jesus Christ, and the fullness of Jesus Christ. But we cannot see Him. We cannot grasp what that really means. And when we receive Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, unlike any other food that we change into ourselves, the Eucharist is the opposite: We are changed into Him. But the world cannot see it. In fact, most of us cannot even recognize it because we cannot see Him as He truly is. Consequently, we cannot be seen, yet, as we will be. Yet the reality is there. It is the foretaste; it is the promise of what we will be. We cannot yet grasp what it is going to be because we cannot see Him as He is. But He is present, hidden under the forms of bread and wine, for us so that we can worship Him there.
Just like all the saints in Heaven, we pray every day that the kingdom of God will come and, in a way, it is already present. The Lord made it clear that He has planted the seed and that the kingdom of God is within. And so it is here, and yet, it is not here in its fullness. But because the kingdom of God is already present, the King is already present. The King is a Lamb who was slain, and we worship Him in the Blessed Sacrament. So what will happen for all eternity in Heaven, in a manner that is beyond our wildest imagination, is already beginning here. And we have the opportunity, like the saints in Heaven, to worship the Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament; to bow down before God and the Lamb and to sing Him a new song of praise and adoration that comes from the heart; to be able, then, to mold our lives in accordance with the mystery that we worship in the Blessed Sacrament so that we can become like those blessed souls that the Lord spoke of in the Sermon on the Mount that we heard in the Gospel reading today.
What we need to strive for is that holiness of life, so that it is not just an intellectual belief in the Real Presence. In other words, it is not that we believe simply because the Church said that this is the reality and we grasp in our head that this is the way it is. It is much deeper than that. When we can pray before the Lord and when we mold ourselves into the image of Jesus Christ, as we see laid out in the Sermon on the Mount, then that mystery begins to sink deeper and deeper into the very core of our being, taking over our heart and our soul so that we become one with Christ. That is the mystery that we can take part in.
It is not just a matter of saying "I believe" but it will come to the point, in prayer, where we can say "I know that Jesus Christ is there" - not just "I believe" but "I know without a doubt because I know in the depths of my being". We are molded into Christ, so we already begin that worship of the Lord here. We begin eternity. Eternity began in each of our souls on the day that we were baptized, when God infused the virtues of faith, hope, and charity into us. Now we need to take that faith and we need to make it grow so that the faith in Jesus Christ, truly present, will become the center part of our lives. That faith, then, leads to the hope that we will indeed be able to see Him as He is and that we will be transformed to be like Him. And that hope, then, leads to love where we love Jesus Christ with our whole heart and soul and strength in the Eucharist now, and in the fullness of His person when we see Him face to face for all eternity.
That is the invitation that God is making to each one of us. And so, as we come before Him today to make reparation for the horrible crimes that will be perpetrated against Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament tonight, it is for each one of us to be able to say, "I need to get this out of my head and into the heart. I need to make Jesus Christ the center of my life. I need to say that I believe and, because I believe, I live that belief." We need to mold our lives, not only around the Eucharist, but into the Eucharist so that we become the true and perfect image of Jesus Christ. That is the glory that is ours. What it looks like, we cannot yet say. Even in the saints, we can see their holiness but we cannot see the reality of their soul. In Heaven, they will shine like the angels, they will shine like the Lamb, they will be one with Him. They already are in this life. And that is what God is asking from each of us: to mold ourselves into the very image of His Son, to be one with Him in all things now, so that we can be one with Him and worship and adore Him for all eternity in the glory of Heaven where we will bow down before the throne of God and the Lamb and sing the new song that is known only to those who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.