The Eucharist and Memorial Day

This weekend, we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi, which is Latin for the Body of Christ, present with us in the Eucharist.

And on Monday, this nation celebrates Memorial Day, during which we honor those who died for the freedom of this land and the principles of liberty and justice throughout the world.  The two celebrations, one specifically Catholic and one national, may seem to have little relationship with each other.

However, they are united by the common principle of calling for us to participate with the heroic sacrifices of old, renewed today. For, on Memorial Day, we do not simply recall the heroic sacrifices of the people who lived and died for this nation.  But we also sense their presence with us here and now, joining with us in the eternal struggle to establish a truly free and just society here and in all nations.  In the Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln called for a re-consecration, under the grace of God, to the great task for which so many died there, likewise when celebrating these memorials for the heroes of our history, we sense a call to be united with them in their struggles now and always.

For the final fulfillment of this desire, we must wait until the end of time, when the Almighty God will gather the best of all nations before His throne.  See Rev. 21:24-25.  However, in the Catholic faith we maintain that, even here and now, we are joined to saints from all ages under Jesus Christ, who is the pioneer and perfecter of all heroism and sacrifices for the salvation desired by God. See Hebrews 12:1-2.

And, in particular, when we come together for Mass, and for liturgies generally, we do not simply remember the past events of saving history.  Rather, as the Catechism makes clear, the liturgy makes present to us now the saving mystery of salvation and unites the Church throughout time and space, and between heaven and earth, in the common worship of God.  See Catechism 1085, 1090.

Standing at the high point of our life of faith, the Eucharist re-presents the sacrifice that Jesus offered on Calvary as He comes to us, now risen from the dead and present under the appearance of bread and wine.  See Catechism 1364.  Every Mass is thus a Memorial and a union in self-sacrificing love, the love that sets us free from sin and guides us to our final homeland.