Posted by: Fr Chris | March 3, 2023

Rooted in the Eucharist

March 3 is feast day of Saint Katharine Drexel; she was born into a wealthy family in Philadelphia, steeped in the Catholic Faith. Her stepmother opened their mansion to the poor three days a week, her father spent every evening in prayer, and the estate was named for Saint Michael the Archangel. Every week she and her sisters worked with their stepmother to distribute rent money, clothing, medicine, and food to the poor of Philadelphia, and every day they had family devotions and study.

Katharine founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People so as to serve, educate, and evangelize among the two most discriminated-against populations of the United States at the time, the African-Americans and the Native American tribes. In our state, her congregation reopened Saint Catherine Indian School in Santa Fe and opened Saint Michael School in diocese of Gallup. She died in 1955 and was a canonized saint just twenty years later, because of both the witness of those who knew her for her holiness and charity, and the miracles God granted through her intercession.

Why spend time on her tonight? Besides being one of the few American saints, and having an impact in our own state, Saint Katharine could not have achieved that holiness without having learned it at home. Her father and stepmother were rooted in prayer, devotion to Our Blessed Lord in the Holy Eucharist, and recognized that the blessings of wealth that they brought into their family through their work was in order to them to help others, not to hold on to. The three girls of the Drexel family taught Sunday School in their parish, their family was close to their parish priests, and their aunt was a Sister of the Sacred Heart. Katharine’s sister and brother-in-law devoted themselves to founding and running a school in segregated Virginia that gave Black boys an education and prepared them for successful living, in defiance of the attitude that Blacks could not learn and could not work without control by White people. In other words, Katharine Drexel grew up in a Catholic family that was rooted in prayer, charity, and Catholic education for all. Those elements will make any family spiritually successful.

The Book of Proverbs that we read during Lent is set up as a book written by his father to his son, giving him the spiritual guidance and wisdom that every child is in need of. Each of us has to be rooted in prayer, each of us has to be rooted in searching for the wisdom of God, each of us has to be striving to make a parish that is rooted in the Holy Eucharist, charity, education, and love of God.

The Liturgy of the Presanctified is unique in the Byzantine Rite for one thing in particular: the procession of the Holy Gifts in absolute silence.

The celebrant carries the Presanctified Gifts, the Sacred Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the Most Blessed Sacrament, the sacrament of all sacraments, in a silent procession around the church. There is no singing, no chant, simply the sound of the chains of the censer clinking against each other as a cloud of incense rises in honor of the Savior Who gave Himself at the Last Supper, Who gave Himself on the Cross, Who waits to give Himself to each of us in Holy Communion. It is the only service in the Byzantine tradition in which there is such stark silence. Not an empty silence, but a silence filled with awe, with worship, with reverence, and above all with the expectation of love and life.

Tonight, may we ask Our Lord in Holy Communion that we each allow ourselves to be rooted deep within His embrace. All of us need the gift of divine wisdom, all of us need to be people of charity, all of us need to grow in faith through study and reading, all of us need to be people of prayer. We can only do that if, like Katharine Drexel and her family, we strive to be a people of the Holy Eucharist who are caught up in the power, love, and glory of Christ Jesus.

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