Father Cameron Faller, vocations director for the San Francisco archdiocese, gave a 13-minute homily on Corpus Christi Sunday at Star of the Sea parish.
Here are excerpts:
I come somewhat shameful and apologetic. I know many Catholics, maybe some of you, have been disappointed by the way the Church has acted, disappointed by clergy members. Some of you may have felt abandoned….
Back on March 16, the federal initiative was called “15 days to slow the spread.” Those 15 days would’ve ended on March 31. It’s June 14….
I do believe there’s a lesson to be learned… The main lesson is that this can’t happen again. There are a few lessons we can learn from our culture. On March 16 the mayor said we didn’t need to rush out to the stores. She said the grocery stores would remain open, restaurants would continue to do take-out, supply lines wouldn’t stop because food was essential….
And yet at the very same time what is the message that came across to many of you? That sacramental food, the Body of Christ, the bread of life became so quickly non-essential.
We never said this as a Church, but sometimes actions speak louder than words. What did we say? We said, “well, watch livestream, do spiritual Communion, saints have gone months without the sacraments…” None of that was a lie. That is part of our Catholic tradition. But it is only a smaller part of our Catholic tradition.
The truth is that for 2000 years on numerous occasions our Catholic ancestors sacrificed their lives just to go to Mass…
In the early Church under the Roman empire, people would gather in homes to celebrate the Mass. People were brought to the court and they knew they would be tortured and killed. Their leader said, “we cannot live without this thing of the Lord. We cannot live without the Eucharist.”
Flash forward 1500 years and we get the story of Father Walter Ciszek about his time in a Russian gulag. In the Russian work camps, Mass was illegal. This priest found a way to have Mass in secret. He found bread, he found wine. People would fast all day long after 14 hours of back-breaking work. Here’s what Father Ciszek said: “What a source of sustenance the Eucharist was to us then…. For us it was a necessity…. I would go to any length to make the bread of life available to these men….”
The resurrected Lord has a physical reality to His being, and so in the Eucharist He seeks to communicated that to us, because we are physical beings.
As C.S. Lewis says what we do with our bodies affects our souls. Which is why we so desperately need the Eucharist, so that we won’t collapse on our spiritual journeys. Part of me fears what effect this could have on the Church. That the very life force of people’s spiritual lives has been taken away – for three months.
Another lesson that we’ve learned from our society certain things are so necessary that you need to break social distancing protocol in order to do them. Notice with these protests that livestream wasn’t good enough. People needed to gather together in a physical time and a physical space, physically close to one another. Why? Because we are embodied spirits…. Social justice before social distancing…. I say Amen.
You have a right to receive Christ in the Eucharist. Social justice before social distancing.
The archbishop said a number of times during this pandemic that the pandemic will reveal our faith, for better or for worse.
Speaking of no one in particular I don’t think the revelation of the Church’s faith has been very good. What we have revealed to the world is that government ordinances are more important than the ordinances of God….
I think the Lord is using this pandemic to prune the Church….