Catholic News Herald

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091116 holy hour mainHoly Hour homilist reflects on Jesus' words 'This is My Body'

CHARLOTTE — During the Holy Hour that followed the Eucharistic procession through Charlotte, homilist Father Paweł Rytel-Andrianik of Poland spoke on the topic "This is My Body." In his bilingual reflection, Father Rytel-Andrianik focused on two words from the Gospel reading for the Holy Hour: "body" and "eat."

"Jesus Christ, we are very happy to be with you this morning," Father Rytel-Andrianik began, acknowledging the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance on the altar near him. "In Your Presence I would like to share what I have learned in North Carolina and in my studies."

When he first visited North Carolina in 2004, Father Rytel-Andrianik said he met a former Protestant minister who had converted to Catholicism. The question was asked: what is the difference between Protestants and Catholics?

Protestants go to church for the preaching, he answered. But Catholics go to church despite the preaching, he quipped. Why?

"We go for Him. We go to the church because we want to meet Jesus Christ. Moreover, we go to the church to thank Him. This is why we go to the church – to be with Jesus, to meet Him in the Holy Eucharist, and take Him with us."

But, Father Rytel-Andrianik continued, what does "the Body of Christ" really mean? In the Gospel, the evangelist used the Greek word for "flesh." That's because he wanted to emphasize the reality of the physical body of Christ – deliberately not calling it a symbol or bread.

The evangelist also used the Greek word for "to eat," but he used a term that more specifically means "to chew" or "to gnaw." Why? Father Rytel-Andrianik asked.

"It is a deliberate emphasis on the physical reality of eating," he answered.
Through our partaking of the Body of Christ, he explained, Holy Communion becomes our body.

"It truly is a mystical experience."

As a result of our chewing the flesh of Christ, he continued, does our family or parishioners notice that we become more like Christ?

The Eucharist is a gift to nourish us, he said. If we approach Holy Communion with faith, it transforms our life. We become more conformed to Him, more like Him, and we share that gift with everyone around us.

"Eating Christ, we become like Him," Father Rytel-Andrianik said. "But this requires our yes. It is not automatic. Jesus wants friends, not slaves."

True, intimate friendship is built on regular communion and time spent together, he said.

He then asked, "Are we friends with Jesus, or do we only meet Him once a week and that's it?"

After the Holy Hour, the Blessed Sacrament was transferred to the Adoration Chapel and the individual programming in English, Spanish and Vietnamese began.

— Patricia L. Guilfoyle, editor

Follow all of our Eucharistic Congress coverage on our blog at http://goeucharist.tumblr.com/

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