By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY — “There is no Church without the Eucharist. Jesus has made it so.”
Simple as that, Bishop Robert W. Finn told some 600 Catholics from both sides of the state line who gathered at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception to celebrate the June 10 Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
And they celebrated with Mass, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, benediction and a procession through downtown Kansas City from the golden-domed Cathedral at 11th Street and Broadway to the Catholic Center and its Chapel of Our Lady of Ephesus at 9th Street and Baltimore.
Joined for the sixth year by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann in a joint celebration of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, the two prelates reminded the flock that consecration and adoration of the Eucharist go hand in hand as both underscore that Jesus, true to his word, is still fully present and with us today.
In his homily at the Mass, Bishop Finn noted that Pope Benedict XVI had underscored the importance of Eucharistic adoration in his homily just three days earlier on the traditional Feast of Corpus Christi.
“While the Holy Father affirmed in clear terms the importance of the Mass, he went on to emphasize, ‘It is a mistake to establish a contrast between celebration and adoration, as if they were in competition with one another. The opposite is true. The (adoration) of the Blessed Sacrament represents the spiritual environment with which the community can celebrate the Eucharist correctly and truthfully,’” Bishop Finn said.
“The pope presents a wonderful image,” the bishop said, further quoting the pope’s June 7 homily: “At the moment of adoration, we are all on the same level, on our knees before the Sacrament of Love. . . By remaining together in silence before the Lord, present in his sacrament, we have one of the most authentic expressions of being church, one that is complementary to our celebration of the Eucharist. . . Communion and contemplation cannot be separated. They go together.”
Archbishop Naumann told the congregation after the Mass and just before the period of silent adoration was to begin that Christ continues through the Eucharist the miracle of loaves and fishes, feeding and nurturing the multitudes and turning none who seek his nourishment away.
“He wants to sastisfy their hunger. He wants to care for them today,” Archbishop Naumann said.
And whatever hungers and weaknesses that people bring that very afternoon, Jesus wants to nourish and strengthen.
“Jesus doesn’t want to send anyone away. He wants nourish each one of us this afternoon,” the archbishop said.
And as Jesus performed the miracle of multiplying the few loaves and fishes gathered from the crowd, so he also is ready to multiply the gifts his faithful bring in order to nourish and strengthen the entire world, Archbishop Naumann said.
“He wants to take our offering, bless it, and use us to nourish the hearts of so many others,” he said.
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is the time to contemplate that great miracle of nourishment in the body and blood of Christ, Archbishop Naumann said.
That is especially important in a culture in which the Eucharist is readily available and often taken for granted, he said.
He recalled last summer’s World Youth Day in Madrid where some 2 million youth from around the world had gathered outdoors with Pope Benedict for a vigil and adoration the night before the pontiff would celebrate the Mass.
As the vigil began, Archbishop Naumann said, a violent thunderstorm erupted, pouring torrential rains on the crowd and turning their outdoor field into a mud pit.
Quipping that it didn’t bother the youth from the Midwestern United States one bit, Archbishop Naumann said the service was interrupted until the storm abated, and Pope Benedict returned, bearing the Holy Eucharist.
“Two million young people dropped to their knees in the mud in silent adoration,” Archbishop Naumann said.
Both Archbishop Naumann and Bishop Finn said the centuries-old Catholic tradition of processions through city streets on the Feast of Corpus Christi was an expression of the yearning of believers to take Jesus Christ everywhere they go in response to the gifts Jesus has given to all who believe in him.
“We are carrying him not only on these few near streets,” Bishop Finn said, “but throughout our dioceses, throughout all our towns and neighborhoods.
“We are bringing Jesus to all the people he loves,” the bishop said. “Our mission is to bring all people to the Lord Jesus, to their one and only Savior who has loved them and has given his life for them.”
Then, the bishop surprised the congregation with a sign of a faith strongly alive.
He reminded them that at the beginning of May, the month of Mary, he had asked Catholics to join together and pray a combined 100,000 Memorares.
Just from people who contacted the diocese, and not counting those who prayed the Memorare on their own, Bishop Finn said the diocese had logged 176,347 Memorares.
“You responded with such unity and faith,” he said. “We received e-mails and prayers from all over the country, from Australia and Great Britain, from Rome.
“Thank you so much dear friends for your continuing prayers and encouragement,” Bishop Finn said. “We place ourselves and everything in God’s hands. May he protect this diocese and all her dear children.”