Monday, June 22, 2009


Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccáta mundi: miserére nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccáta mundi: miserére nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccáta mundi: dona nobis pacem.

It is said a picture is worth a thousand words. I'll be considerably more brief. I'm reminded of quite a few things when I see this. Click on the picture and look. What do you see? What thoughts come to mind? For me I though of...

WWII - post Normandy invasion. Mandatory draft for those between 18-45. No Vietnam era college deferments, not a volunteer army. We were fighting a two front war and we were all in it together. Those not in the military were building the battleships and aircraft carriers, the P-51 Mustangs and B-29 Superfortresses, and the Sherman and Pershing tanks to get the job done. Can one imagine a world with an Imperial Japan and a Nazi Germany leading the way? Thanks to our grandparents we don't have to.

Fred DeMarco, my grandfather/Godfather. 1st generation Italian from 12th and Carpenter Streets. He was about 40 when he was drafted, he served in Patton's 3rd Army and fought at the Battle of the Bulge. When I even think to complain about the cold weather, I think of him marching in colder weather, hundreds of miles to Bastogne... only to have to fight the Nazis after he arrived. One night it was his turn to skip sleep to guard General Patton's tent. Patton came out, pointed to his ivory handled revolvers, and told my grandfather he didn't need a guard and ordered him to go get some much needed sleep.

"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Those brave soldiers, kneeling for Holy Communion -- many for what would be the last time. How important must that Mass have been for them that day? Even in war time conditions the priest is wearing his vestments, the chasuble with the name of Christ in Greek - IHS - on the back. A soldier serving as an acolyte carefully holds the paten, knowing what many do not know today -- that this is the Body of Christ -- the real presence, transubstantiated in this outdoor, makeshift church, just like in the great cathedrals, which these men would soon liberate. How comforting must it had been for those men (and boys) to hear the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass so far from home. Something we take for granted, every day, every week -- myself positioned at the top of the list.

Randy Pausch, author of The Last Lecture, was complaining to his mother one day about how difficult his studies were to attain his PhD. His mother tried to be empathetic and patted his arm, saying "We know how you feel honey, and remember when your father was your age he was fighting the Germans."

Santifying grace. I've always struggled with how anyone could be in a perfect state of grace to receive the Body and Blood of Christ - ever. Possible exceptions might be my old next-door neighbor Bette Kramer, Fr. John Deeney, SJ and Sr. Mary Michael, CSFN -- as they have always stayed at the foot of the Cross. No doubt those in the picture above were a great deal closer then I'll ever be. Fr. Pat McCloskey, OFM offers this advice; "Strictly speaking, no one is ever worthy. Jesus’ healing makes us less unworthy. In this prayer before Holy Communion, worthy means that the person has confessed any mortal sins and is properly disposed to receive this sacrament." So we must try and have the same faith as the centurion from Capernaum had, who in the Gospel of Matthew says "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully." Jesus said to him, "I will come and cure him."
The centurion said in reply, 6 "Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.

This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
Happy are those who are called to His supper.

Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.

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