If you have yet to visit the Vatican Museums in Rome, make sure that you don’t skip the “Stanze di Raffaello” also known as the Raphael Rooms on your way to the Sistine Chapel. Among the many frescoes done by the great Renaissance Master, Raphael, perhaps his most famous is The School of Athens, representing reason or philosophy.
On the opposite wall is another fresco—one that many pass over—which is called The Disputation representing faith or theology. The scene depicted in this work spans heaven and earth. In heaven you have the Trinity, together with the Blessed Virgin and other saints. While on earth you have various Doctors of the Church, theologians, and other historical figures, all of whom are gesturing towards the monstrance (containing the Blessed Sacrament) that stands on an altar at the center of the painting. Placing the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament precisely in that specific location was no accident on Raphael’s part, for it stands between the two separated spheres—heaven and earth—serving as a bridge between the two.
The origin of the word devil (from the Greek “diabolos”) means to separate, divide, or scatter. The work of the devil is division, hatred, and conflict, while God’s work is unity, peace, and harmony. In a nation divided by political and social conflict, we are in desperate need of a unifying force. And we can find that force in the Holy Eucharist—the Sacrament in which we receive the Body of Christ and by which we are united and integrated into union with Him and His Body, the Church. It is no accident that we call the Eucharist “communion,” for by sharing in it we are united and made one in Christ with all believers.
To help us rediscover and better appreciate the meaning and value of the Eucharist, the Church has invited all the faithful to participate in a “Eucharistic Revival,” something our parish will be launching next month. The first weekend of October we will bring back Holy Communion under both species of bread and wine, to help us understand the fullness of the sign of the Eucharistic meal—eating and drinking Christ’s Body and Blood.
During the pandemic the distribution of the Precious Blood was suspended in the Diocese of San José. However, Bishop Oscar Cantú reestablished the possibility for communion under both species in his letter of June 20 this year. Bishop Cantú emphasized that while it is not necessary for the faithful to receive the Eucharist under both species (since each fully contains the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ), it is “a fuller sign of participation in the Sacred Mysteries of the Lord’s death and resurrection.” He also cautioned that those with existing health concerns of “flu-like conditions” should refrain from receiving the Precious Blood from the chalice to avoid possible transmission.
To distribute the Precious Blood each Sunday, we will need the assistance of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (Eucharistic Ministers) to serve the assembly. If you would like to volunteer for this beautiful ministry, please contact me for more information at email@example.com.
Reflection by Michael Sternhagen, Director of Liturgy