June 30, 2019 - Pastor Message07/17/2019
THE YEAR OF PRAYER PART 18: HOLY COMMUNION TO THE SICK AND HOMEBOUND
“Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
As Catholics, we believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, that is, that he is truly present for us in the consecrated bread and wine that are made his Body and Blood. He continues to be present for us after Mass in the consecrated hosts that we reserve in the tabernacle. Last week, I wrote about one reason for this practice to enable Eucharistic adoration. This week I’d like to reflect on the other reason to enable us to bring Holy Communion to the sick and homebound.
The practice of bringing Communion to the sick and homebound dates back to the early days of the Church. Desiring to maintain their unity with those who could not join them in their weekly assemblies, the early Christians knew that the best way to do this was to bring them the source of their unity, the Eucharist. Thus the Body of Christ in the Eucharist built up the Body of Christ, the Church, even for those members who could not be at the celebration of Mass.
This practice continues today. It is particularly associated with the tradition of First Friday, which itself grew out of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus as promoted by St. Margeret Mary Alacoque. Part of that devotion included receiving Communion on the first Friday of each month for nine months in reparation for sins. Since the sick and homebound could only participate in this devotion if someone brought them Communion, the practice grew of bringing Communion to them on First Fridays.
Though its association with devotion to the Sacred Heart has been largely forgotten, most parishes continue to bring Communion to the sick and homebound on First Fridays. Every First Friday I bring Communion to the sick and homebound of our parish, but I usually have to extend that to the first Saturday and Sunday of each month, since we have so many people to visit. That is not the only time our sick and homebound parishioners receive Communion, however. We are blessed at St. Boniface to have a group of dedicated parishioners who bring Communion to the sick and homebound every Thursday, except for the week of First Friday, which, again, is the week I visit them. What a special grace we enjoy here that our homebound parishioners share weekly in the Eucharist with us, wherever they may be, thanks to the generous service of our Ministers to the Sick and Homebound.
If you know of someone who is homebound or in a nursing home, even temporarily, who would appreciate receiving Holy Communion on a weekly basis, please call the parish office and let us know so that we can add them to the list. Also, if you would like to help with this important ministry, please call and let us know. Christ comes to be with us in the Eucharist. May he continue to bless our parish with faithful ministers who make it possible for him to be with the sick and homebound in Holy Communion.
Fr. Marc Stockton