June 3, 2009

Covered in Blood

Once in a while I have extra spiritual experiences while offering Mass; interior visions or insights, that sort of thing. A good example is my "dirty chalice" experience. I'm grateful for these for the fear of the Lord and understanding they offer, but I have to be very deliberate with the rest of Mass because I feel distracted and likely to skip something, etc.

Today was another one. I was very happy to offer the Mass of St. Charles Lwanga, because his feast is my "name day." In a rather uncharacteristic display of practicality, I chose to be baptized with the name of a saint identical to the name I had before. I didn't know much about St. Charles, but since I also already had the middle initial 'L' it seemed like a perfect fit. Over the years I have sought Charles's prayers as a special patron, and also having learned more about his life and martyrdom I have come to believe that my choice was entirely inspired and providential.

Today at Mass I tried to preach on St. Charles as an undiscovered patron saint for our times. As he was martyred at least in part for his unwillingness to accept a situation of sexual abuse and exploitation at the king's court, so we should seek his prayers in our effort to find a path to healing and a place beyond the scourge of sexualized power and exploitation in our Church.

As I was leaving the ambo after the homily and returning to the chair, I noticed my red chasuble and all of a sudden I had this interior vision of myself covered with blood. With this seemingly grotesque insight I peered for a moment into the truth of the Mass and our martyrdom. St. Charles is counted among the martyrs precisely because his own blood was taken up completely into identity with the Precious Blood of Christ. The Eucharist he received was so powerful in his life that in his sufferings his own blood became the extension--in his particular time, place, and culture--of Christ's Blood poured out on the Cross.

This is the joy and the challenge of the Eucharist for us. Christ's Blood was poured out on the Cross. He is broken. In the Eucharist we receive his broken Body and Blood poured out so that our blood might become His. We too are to break ourselves so that the Blood of Christ may flow from us for the life of the world. The goal of the Eucharist is Holy Communion--a communion in which the Blood of Christ, the blood of the martyrs, and our blood and lives are ultimately--and only ultimately--the same thing.


pennyante said...

Thank you for sharing these personal experiences with us.

Along somewhat the same lines, my priest often asks us if we would be ready to shed our blood... as the martyrs did. It is a difficult question to answer in our day and time. We seem to think martyrdom only took place long ago...

And yet, different kinds of martyrdom take place every day in many people's lives. We pray for God's grace to endure whatever he asks of us.

4narnia said...

happy feast day, Fr. C! thank you for sharing your beautiful reflection on your patron saint, Charles Lwanga. PEACE! ~tara t~

Paul A. Zalonski said...

blessed feast day, belated.

Brother Charles said...

Thanks Paul!