The Cup of Salvation and the Sacrament of Love
April 29th Readings Reflection: Memorial of Saint Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
I would like to begin today’s Gospel reflection by looking at our beautiful Responsorial Psalm for this feast of St. Catherine of Siena:
How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good [H]e has done for me? The cup of salvation I will take up, and I will call upon the name of the Lord.
For centuries, the Church has read these verses in light of the Holy Eucharist. At the Tridentine Mass, the priest prays part of this Psalm after receiving the Sacred Host, before he receives the Precious Blood from the chalice. As my missal explains in its notes, “God has no need of our gifts. The most acceptable thanksgiving to His heart, consumed with love for us, is to esteem His benefits.” As Catholics, we understand the “cup of salvation” to be the chalice containing Christ’s Precious Blood at Mass. One of the four ends of the Mass is thanksgiving, and today’s Psalm beautifully encapsulates that.
In the passages preceding today’s Gospel, Jesus said, “[M]y flesh is meat indeed: and [M]y blood is drink indeed. He that eateth [M]y flesh, and drinketh [M]y blood, abideth in [M]e, and I in him” (Jn 6:56-57 DRB). Many of Jesus’ disciples, refusing to accept His words, stopped following Him. Jesus asked His Twelve Apostles if they would leave too, but St. Peter replied, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
Today, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Catherine of Siena, a mystic and Doctor of the Church. Echoing the words of St. Peter in today’s Gospel, St. Catherine once wrote:
I believe that [Y]ou are Christ, the Son of the true and living God, given to me as [F]ood by the fire of [Y]our immeasurable charity and in memory of [Y]our most tender [P]assion and the great blessing of [Y]our [B]lood poured out with such burning love to wash away our sinfulness.
During the Eucharistic Revival, today’s Psalm and St. Catherine’s words are timely reminders of Christ’s Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist. My pastor recently gave a beautiful homily on this topic, pointing out that Jesus is just as present with us through the Eucharist as He was with the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus. This is a difficult teaching to understand, for it is a supernatural mystery that our natural reasons alone cannot comprehend. However, God’s grace is willing and eager to open our eyes to see Him present in the Eucharist; we need only ask for this grace and it shall be given. May St. Catherine of Siena intercede for us in Heaven and help us to recognize the Eucharist as a Sacrament of Love, the eternal Sacrifice offered for our sins and given to us as Food so that we may obtain eternal life.
Wonderful reflection especially highlighting St Catherine whose devotion to the Blessed Sacrament was so profound. There are stories of her subsisting on the Blessed Sacrament alone. I especially like you statement, “God’s grace is willing and eager to open our eyes to see Him present in the Eucharist; we need only ask for this grace and it shall be given.” So many refuse this grace and it is tragic. God bless.
Your words are always nourshing and encouraging. Thank you!