As my retirement as Rector of Christ Cathedral draws closer, I am ever more aware of the journey we have been on together for the past ten years. Starting with our venerable beginning as St. Callistus Church, we are now Christ Cathedral Parish. While the same in service and ministry to our people as all the other parishes, we have been growing in our identity as the bishop’s church, with increasing awareness that our service and ministry extend to the broader Church of the Diocese of Orange and beyond. This journey has taken courage, patience and a profound openness to the joys and challenges that come with such a transformation. For your faithful participation in all of it, I am most grateful.
This weekend we celebrate the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. We honor the profound belief at the heart of our Catholic faith that the bread and wine offered at the celebration of the Eucharist truly become the Body of Christ. The elements of bread and wine are not symbols or reminders of the Body of Christ, they are the Body of Christ, as the Church for centuries has said,” Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.” They are the real presence of the resurrected Lord. In the Eucharist, what looks and tastes like bread and wine becomes the Body of Christ for us to receive.
As Catholics we are in awe of what happens to the bread and wine in the Eucharist as they become the Body and Blood of Christ. Today’s feast also invites us to marvel that as those who receive the Body of Christ, we are to be the Body of Christ in the world. Now, it is not only about what happens to the bread and wine, it is also about what happens to us. St. Augustine in a sermon on the Eucharist instructs us as we look at the Body of Christ when it is held up at Mass: “Behold who you are. Become what you receive.”
Today, in union with the whole Church, the Diocese of Orange begins a year dedicated to renewing and reinvigorating our participation in and devotion to the Eucharist. Together, as we celebrate this feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, may we remember how very much the world needs us to become what we receive.
Together in faith,
Very Rev. Christopher Smith, Rector