Rorate Caeli

Fontgombault Sermon - Corpus Christi: No Other Religion Has Dared This

1981 recording

Sermon of the Right Reverend Dom Jean Pateau
Abbot of Our Lady of Fontgombault
(Fontgombault, June 4, 2015)

Tantum ergo sacramentum veneremur cernui.
Let us fall down in adoration of so great a sacrament.
(Hymn of the feast of Corpus Christi)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
My dearly beloved Sons,

In today’s solemnity, we are brought face-to-face with an essential mystery in our faith, that of the real and substantial presence of Christ’s Body and Blood under the sacramental species of bread and wine.

Apart from Christianity, no other religion has ever dared assert such a close propinquity between God and men. Indeed, even among Christians, all do not believe in the reality of this presence.

Conversely, the increasing number of tabernacle doors broken open, and of stolen Hosts, whereas the thieves relinquish golden or silver ciboriums, show that this Sacrament is worth far more than gold and silver.

Today’s feast is propitious for a conscience searching. Wouldn’t the habitual presence of the Lord in the tabernacle have become a commonplace presence for us? Wouldn’t our gestures always need to be re-sacralized, namely to escape the field of automatism, so as to acquire a weight of meaning and sense, to become again a word that we say to Jesus.

Gestures are worth what they are, and what is in the heart of the person who does them. A gesture that better expresses the relationship between him who does it and him before whom, or for whom, it is done, is more relevant. However, this gesture would be devoid of meaning and purely for show, if it were not understood as the outer expression of what is lived in truth deep down in our hearts.

There is thus an education to carry out.

Under the holy species, Jesus accepts to run the risk of profanation, He gives His life for His friends. “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn 15:13) In return, have we truly given Him our lives?

Around the Eucharist, our food, through the worship of Jesus Host, are being formed throughout the world the new spiritual generations of the civilisation of true love. Pope St. John Paul II has written:

Each day my faith has been able to recognize in the consecrated bread and wine the divine Wayfarer who joined the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and opened their eyes to the light and their hearts to new hope (cf. Lk 24:13-35). Allow me, dear brothers and sisters, to share with deep emotion, as a means of accompanying and strengthening your faith, my own testimony of faith in the Most Holy Eucharist. […] Here is the Church’s treasure, the heart of the world, the pledge of the fulfilment for which each man and woman, even unconsciously, yearns. A great and transcendent mystery, indeed, and one that taxes our mind’s ability to pass beyond appearances. Here our senses fail us: […] yet faith alone, rooted in the word of Christ handed down to us by the Apostles, is sufficient for us. (St. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia, n. 59)
Amen, Alleluia.