Having just returned from a pilgrimage to Europe, I was privileged to see some amazing sights and partake of some wonderful experiences with Archbishop O’Brien and our tour group. I celebrated Mass in the Cathedral in Milan where the great St. Ambrose served as archbishop and baptized St. Augustine. I was able to see the Shroud of Turin, the burial cloth of Jesus. And you could see the image of his face and body visible to the naked eye. We traveled through the beautiful Italian Dolomite mountains where Pope Benedict liked to vacation in the summer on our way to Innsbruck in the German Alps. We attended the Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany. This play is put on only every 10 years since 1634 in thanksgiving for having been spared from the Black Plague that was ravaging Europe at the time. The play was a spectacle the likes of which I had never seen before. The actors were all townspeople with goats, donkeys, and camels on stage as well, when called for the the scene. There was a wonderful chorus of fifty men and women with an excellent orchestra. At times there were as many as three hundred people on the stage. The Passion Play lasted five and a half hours. Fortunately, there was a three hour intermission for dinner. It was truly a memorable experience.
The pilgrimage ended with a visit to Salzburg, Austria and then Munich, Germany before returning to Baltimore. But as amazing as this trip was, it can’t begin to compare with what happens here every Sunday when Jesus descends upon the altar where the bread and wine become his body and blood to nourish us. This weekend, Corpus Christi (the Body of Christ), we especially celebrate this miraculous gift. May we never take it for granted; may we always cherish and hunger for the Body of Christ which alone can satisfy our deepest hunger.
- Fr. Carl