Messenger series on the Eucharist #1 — Real Presence of Christ

By Msgr. William Neuhaus.

I enjoyed watching recently an interesting and even somewhat charming British documentary in which Queen Elizabeth II (who even managed a rare joke) handled, examined and talked about the St. Edward Crown, with which she was crowned 65 years ago and which she apparently has not seen since (I suppose she doesn’t keep these things in a dresser drawer), and the newer Imperial State Crown, which she dons on a regular basis to open the British Parliament. She spoke with some knowledge of the history of the great Cullinan “Star of Africa” diamond which adorns the latter crown, and the program featured commentary on the circumstances of its discovery, cutting and placement in the crown (the priceless gem was sent years ago from South Africa to London by regular mail!), as well as a lengthy discussion on the stone’s characteristics, colors, flaws and so forth, which was all news to me and rather beyond anything I know (which is more or less nothing) about diamonds

In teaching about the Eucharist, I have all the same often found myself mentioning diamonds: They are proverbial for being (pun intended) multi-faceted, a term which comes to mind when one reads this beautiful quote on the Eucharist from the Second Vatican Council, to be found (n. 1323) in the wonderfully comprehensible and accessible “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” which should have a place in the home of every committed Catholic:

At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet “in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.”

Sacrifice, memorial, sacrament, bond, banquet … how wonderfully bright is this shining “source and summit,” as the Council calls it, of the Christian life.

The Catechism with great clarity references the centuries of Scriptural and Church teaching on the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, including that “summary” which was presented in the 16th century by the Council of Trent:

Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God … that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation. (n. 1376)

It sometimes happens that faithful Catholics encounter people objecting to what we believe about the Real Presence by claiming that the Church’s use of that medieval, philosophical term, “transubstantiation,” as well as the development over the centuries of how the Church has sought to honor that Presence, means that what we believe about the Real Presence is some kind of a medieval innovation or exaggeration remote from what the early Church believed about how Christ is present in the Eucharist.

In 1968, in his beautiful yet relatively brief “Credo of the People of God,” and like his successors in many subsequent papal teaching documents, Blessed Paul VI tried to address that and other modern errors concerning the Eucharist, and perhaps especially concerning adoration of the Eucharist, by describing the use of “transubstantiation” as appropriate while, at the same time, emphasizing that whatever kind of language we may use in describing the change which occurs on the altar, we must always understand that in the reality itself, independently of our mind, the bread and wine have ceased to exist after the Consecration, so that it is the adorable body and blood of the Lord Jesus that from then on are really before us under the sacramental species of bread and wine, as the Lord willed it, in order to give Himself to us as food and to associate us with the unity of His Mystical Body. … And this existence remains present, after the sacrifice, in the Blessed Sacrament, which is, in the tabernacle, the living heart of each of our churches. And it is our very sweet duty to honor and adore in the blessed Host which our eyes see, the Incarnate Word whom they cannot see, and who, without leaving heaven, is made present before us.

“Our very sweet duty.” Pope Paul appreciated and loved the Catholic impulse quietly and reverently to express our wonder and gratitude for what happens before us at Mass, and for what — for whom — we receive in holy Communion. And so we have, among many other hopeful things in the life of the Church, and shiningly standing out in a troubled and confused world, the phenomenon of parish programs of Eucharistic adoration, including here in our own diocese. It’s always a great and often a moving pleasure, and a reaffirming one, to see how such expressions of our belief in the Real Presence strike converts to our faith.

Msgr. Ronald Knox (preacher, apologist, Bible translator and mystery writer) was a 20th-century English convert, and in a powerful Corpus Christi homily recalled the epitaph of Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman, the great 19th-century convert (himself very frequently cited in the Catechism), “Out of Shadows and Appearances into the Truth”:

When death brings us into another world, the experience will not be that of one who falls asleep and dreams, but that of one who wakes from a dream into the full light of day. Here, we are so surrounded by the things of sense that we take them for the full reality. Only sometimes we have a glimpse which corrects that wrong perspective. And above all when we see the Blessed Sacrament enthroned we should look up towards that white disc which shines in the monstrance as towards a [crack] through which, just for a moment, the light of the other world shines through. (“Pastoral and Occasional Sermons,” 304)

Msgr. William Neuhaus is a retired priest of the Diocese of Covington.

Thousands gather in Newport to ‘Cross the Bridge for Life’

By David Cooley.

It was a beautiful, breezy day as thousands of people donning purple shirts gathered at the Newport Festival Park June 3 for the 13th annual Cross the Bridge for Life.

Bishop Roger Foys and Archbishop of Cincinnati Dennis M. Schnurr offered encouraging words, prayers and blessings before joining participants in walking across the “Purple People Bridge” over the Ohio River and back. As is the tradition, the crowd was led across the bridge by bagpipers from the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Knights of Columbus, followed by Bishop Foys, accompanied by many diocesan priests and seminarians praying a rosary for life.

The annual event is a celebration of life for families to attend together and featured food trucks, music by band Easter Rising, free balloon creations and face painting, and a variety of information booths from some of the more than 20 life-affirming organizations that sponsor the day. Organizers said the attendance, and the donations collected for the participating non-profits, were up from last year.

Prior to the walk there was a short ceremony emceed by Sacred Heart Radio’s Anna Mitchell, host of the Sonrise Morning Show. The American Heritage Girls color guard presented the American Flag and led the Pledge of Allegiance and vocalist Allison Riegler sang “God Bless America.”

During the ceremony Bobby Schindler, founder of the Terry Schiavo Life & Hope Network, was presented with the Defender of Life Award. Mr. Schiavo spoke about his family’s losing fight to save his sister’s life in a 2005 court battle that became international news when her estranged husband petitioned to have her feeding and nutrition stopped, although she was not dying and her extended family wanted to continue her care. Terry Schiavo said that he and his family “became, simultaneously, the face of the Right to Life movement — and of the ‘Right to Die’ movement.”

Mr. Schindler urged the Cross the Bridge participants to live as witnesses to the fact that all life has worth and meaning.

“Human dignity must be rooted in something deeper than law,” he said. “If we think it depends on our vote, then it is just a comforting lie we tell ourselves. We need to heroically witness a culture of life and love in our families and neighborhoods.”

Also during of the ceremony it was announced that Paula Westwood, executive director, Greater Cincinnati Right to Life, would be retiring at the end of the June. For her leadership over the past 15 years she was presented with a special Champion of Life Award.

Following their trek across the bridge, participants continued to enjoy the nice day on the festival grounds with more food, music and celebrating. Cross the Bridge for Life is a commemoration of the gift of human life at every age and every stage and is held on the first Sunday in June every year.

“Once again my spirits were lifted when I saw how many people came to walk the bridge for life this year,” said Bishop Foys. “Their dedication to the cause of the sacredness of life at all its stages and their enthusiasm for this cause is nothing short of inspirational. May God bless every person who marched with us and may the pro-life movement continue to flourish in our Diocese and in our nation.”

Ordination to the Sacred Priesthood

By Laura Keener.

Bishop Roger Foys ordained two men — Benton Clift and Joseph Shelton — to the holy Order of Priest, May 19, at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington. It was an historic day and Bishop Foys could not resist the opportunity to acknowledge the serendipity.

“After today the lives of two people will be forever changed,” Bishop Foys said as he began his homily. “They will no longer belong to themselves. Their lives and the lives of family and friends and everyone they meet, every life they touch will change. They will give themselves totally to someone else. But enough about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle,” he said as attendees of the ordination erupted in laughter.

Earlier that same day, across the pond, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, were married at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, United Kingdom. And while most of the world fixated on the royal nuptials, the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption was filled with diocesan priests and the family and friends of the two men about to be ordained.

“Actually, though,” Bishop Foys continued, “the lives of two people in our midst, after today, will be forever changed. They, too, will no longer belong to themselves. They have been called, they have been chosen, by the Lord to follow him in holy orders, to proclaim his name and his love in the midst of God’s people.”

Bishop Foys encouraged the candidates to embrace their mission — to be light to the world.

“Jesus said to his disciples, ‘You are the salt of the earth’ and ‘you are the light of the world. Let your light shine before others so that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.’ It’s nothing that we do for ourselves; what we do, what we say, how we live, is meant to give glory to God. This is our call, this is our mission,” Bishop Foys said.

“It is true, after today Deacon Benton and Deacon Joey will not be the same. They will have answered the call of the Lord and given themselves over to the Lord without reservation, unconditionally. With God’s help and the support of the people they are sent to serve, they will fulfill the promises they make today until the end of their lives.”

The following day, Father Clift and Father Shelton each celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving. Father Shelton’s first Mass was held at St. Timothy Church, Union, and Father Clift’s at St. Philip Church, Melbourne.

On June 11 the newly ordained will begin their first assignments. Bishop Foys has assigned Father Clift parochial vicar, Blessed Sacrament Parish, Ft. Mitchell, and Father Shelton administrative assistant to the bishop, episcopal master of ceremonies and assistant to the chancellor.

2018 DPAA ‘unites us as a diocese in faith and service’

By David Cooley.

Casey Guilfoyle, general chair of 2018 Diocesan Parish Annual Appeal (DPAA), and Matthew Zeck, leadership gifts chair, hope to keep the momentum going after a very successful start to this year’s DPAA. The first phase of the appeal, the leadership gifts phase, brought in $375,900 from 81 donors. That number was announced at two kick-off dinners, one in Cynthiana and the other in Erlanger, on Feb. 20 and 22, respectively, which began the public phase of the appeal. Last weekend, March 3–4, the DPAA video, which featured individuals giving testimonies on how ministries in the diocese have helped them in their time of need, was shown in parishes throughout the Diocese of Covington. Next weekend, March 17–18, is commitment weekend, or the “in-pew” phase of the DPAA, where parishioners will have the opportunity to make their gift or pledge to the DPAA at Mass. The theme for this year’s appeal is “Zeal for your house will consume me” (John 2:17), and the goal is $2.5 million.

According to Mr. Zeck, what makes the DPAA so special is how it helps so many different people in so many different ways.

“Each of these ministries [served by the DPAA] are catering to or trying to solve the need that they focus on, but if we only focused on one thing there would be so many other folks not being served,” said Mr. Zeck. “What I think is really special about the DPAA is the wide variety of ministries that it supports, ministries that are trying to help, collectively, a lot of the different situations that our people are in.”

Mr. Zeck believes that this year’s theme is very fitting.

“In Scripture, the word ‘zeal’ spoke about Jesus’ passion for the House of the Lord, but it can also be used for the passion we have for all these ministries and all the work that has to be done to take care of God’s people,” he said.

Mrs. Guilfoyle agreed.

“The theme has been awesome to work with. I think Bishop [Roger] Foys truly captured the depth of the zeal Jesus felt for the Lord’s house. In short, we are called to have the same sort of zeal, the same energy and whole hearted enthusiasm, for the ‘community of believers’ — the House of God in our day, right here in the Diocese of Covington. Supporting this year’s appeal is a clear opportunity for us to all to show our own zeal,” she said.

“Since I have been involved with this year’s appeal and have the benefit of working as leadership gifts chair on the 2016-2017 appeal, I’ve realized how much the DPAA supports our diocese. I’ve also had a chance to see up close and personal all the awesome work done in our diocese,” she said. “It truly unites us as a diocese in faith and service. It helps us all ‘keep the faith’ and also keep our service ministries so strong. … In short the DPAA gives us an opportunity to support the heart of our mission as ‘church’ with one appeal that sustains so many good works.”

A popular aspect of the annual appeal is the parish rebate program. One hundred percent of all gifts collected over a parish’s goal are returned as rebates to that parish for projects and ministry. This has been a very successful incentive for parishes. The Office of Stewardship and Mission Services reported that, as of February 2018, $778,965 has been returned to parishes through the 2017 DPAA rebate program. That number will continue to rise as donors fulfill their pledges.

One of the different aspects of the 2018 appeal has to do with gifts given by credit card. The Diocese of Covington is working with a third-party vendor to take credit card gifts. This is done through a safe and secure website that can be accessed through the “donate button” on the diocesan website, www.covdio.org.

According to Michael Murray, director, Office of Stewardship and Mission Services, this will be a safer procedure but also beneficial to benefactors of the DPAA.

“Once our diocesan faithful register one time through the third-party vendor, a company called VanCo, they will be able to conveniently give online whenever they wish, not just for the DPAA but for other collections, as well,” Mr. Murray said.

As the appeal moves forward Mr. Zeck said that the leadership gifts phase of the appeal went very well and that they are “ahead of the game.”

“One of the general ideas behind the leadership gifts phase is to give us great momentum going into the kick-off dinners. From that standpoint it feels like we are doing really, really well,” said Mr. Zeck.

“Most importantly, I would like to give an incredible expression of gratitude to those who have already given and to those who are considering it. … The generosity of our diocese has been fantastic in the past and we are relying on them to help support us again this year,” he said.

Mrs. Guilfoyle is hoping that everyone in the diocese will contribute something — no matter how large or small.

“Because the DPAA is an opportunity to unite us all as a community of faith to support the work of the diocese, I’d like to encourage everyone to give this year even if they haven’t given regularly in the past,” she said. “Even a small pledge and sacrifice, if given with the spirit and intention of supporting all the great things that make us Catholic here in the diocese, will be returned in abundance. It will be a way for you to connect with the entirety of God’s people here. The great works being done now will continue and grow and thrive and you will be a part of that.”

Bishop Foys announces Year of Prayer for Priestly Vocations

By: David Cooley.

Bishop Roger Foys has announced that he has designated the coming year as the “Year of Prayer for Priestly Vocations.” The year will officially begin with solemn vespers at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington, on the solemnity of Christ the King, Nov. 26, and conclude on the same solemnity in 2018.

Bishop Roger Foys is asking the faithful to continue to pray for vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life, but especially to the priesthood during this special year.

While a primary focus throughout the year will be prayer within family life there will also be a strong emphasis on prayer for vocations within the diocesan schools.

Bishop Foys, Father Andrew Young, vocations promoter, and other diocesan priests will visit every one of the high schools, celebrate Mass, and spend an extended amount of time with the students, focusing on vocations. These events will be called “Vocations Day.” Father Young will also be visiting the diocesan grade schools.

In each of the five deaneries, throughout the year, there will be “Deanery Discernment Events” that will include Holy Hours, presentations, dinner, social time and other group activities. Throughout the year, there will also be special articles featured in the Messenger, giving readers insight to the vocations of many of the priests currently serving in the diocese. The same prayer for priestly vocations will be prayed at every parish during each weekend Mass. This prayer will be prayed either as a conclusion to the Prayer of the Faithful or at the end of the Mass.

“The whole year has a dual purpose,” said Bishop Foys in an interview with the Messenger. “First, the purpose is to pray for vocations; and, second, to raise the consciousness of our people about vocations and the need for vocations in order for them to make that vocation culture a part of their life.”

Bishop Foys said that he is very excited about this upcoming year. What’s great about it is that everyone can pray for vocations and raise awareness of the need for priests and vocations, he said.

“The faithful can begin by praying as a family for vocations and they can also encourage, not only their children and grandchildren, but also the people in their parish whom they might believe have a vocation to the priesthood, religious life or the diaconate. Encouragement is sometimes all these young people need,” he said. “It is important to also support the seminarians we have now. Our people are very generous with their financial support, and our hope is that they are also generous with their prayers. A parish that has a seminarian stationed at their church should also do their best to encourage him.”

Bishop Foys said that when he goes on school visits and talks with the students or when he talks to the confirmandi and asks the young men if they have ever thought about being a priest, more often than not they’ll say, “Yes.” Moreover, when he asks the children before their confirmation if there is anyone in their class who would make a good priest they all, invariably, point to one or two young men.

“So, these things are in their thoughts and consciousness,” he said.

Bishop Foys has been heard to say, often, that God, of course, is still calling but people aren’t listening and God’s voice is drowned out by many other things.

“It is our culture in general — the secular society has become so engrained in people,” he said. “The Church at one time was the center of people’s lives. Now, we live in a different time. In this age, the priority of priesthood and religious life doesn’t often rise to the top.”

Bishop Foys said that another issue is that the visibility of the numerous priests and women religious at the schools interacting with the children has extremely declined.

“I look at the history of our schools here and, at one time, they were staffed by almost all priests and religious sisters and brothers,” he said. “It was unusual to have a lay teacher.”

Bishop Foys said that he believes the Year for Prayer for Priestly Vocations is, at the very least, a step in the right direction.

“Prayer,” said Bishop Foys, “should be the first step, when it is time to make a decision or if there is some kind of need. It is the first step, not the last step — we should put whatever it is in God’s hands first.”

Aware that, these days, people are very busy, Bishop Foys said that the faithful should take at least 10 minutes a day to pray.

“Go off by yourself somewhere; read the Scriptures,” he said. “The hope that goes along with that is if you take that small amount of time, eventually you will want to do more.”

Bishop Foys said that the Year of Prayer for Priestly Vocations is a time to reflect on the importance of priests in society and in the lives of God’s people.

“A priest is another Christ,” he said. “The priest is called to minister to God’s people. The priesthood is a life of serving. The priest, through the Mass and the sacraments, brings the Lord to people and the people to the Lord. He is a conduit.

“If someone asked me at the end of my life, how would I determine if it was a success or not, I would say that if I brought just one person to Christ, for me, that would be a success.”