3rd Sunday of Lent – Tucson – 2020
(Based on the Catechism of the Council of Trent Part. IV, Chp 13.
Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie / Give us this day our daily bread
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Today we address the 4th of the 7 petitions of the Our Father. The first three: the hallowing of His Name, the coming of His Kingdom, and the following of His will are all perfectly fulfilled in Heaven though we can have a share in this life here below. But the four remaining petitions all pertain to the necessities of our life here below and these petitions seek to order us in a way that we follow His Will, that we belong to His Kingdom, and that we will proclaim His Glory for eternity. In the Our Father, Our Lord teaches us the order and importance of our prayer and petitions, that which is most important first, and the least last, and what we can and ought to pray for. Thus this fourth petition: “Give us our daily bread” is subordinated to that which precedes it and should lead us back to God in that way.
But unfortunately, many times we pray for earthly goods or honors as if they were an end in themselves, we transgress in desiring them more or outside God’s ordinances. (Such as, for a new car, a raise, a better paying job, a nicer house, deliverance from some person, the triumph of conservatism in the government, better flowing traffic, the easy life etc.) To us then, Our Lord says: “You know not what you ask.” And St. Paul reminds that “We know not what we should pray for as we ought.” Too often we transgress into praying principally for these transient goods forgetting the first three petitions. How then can we know if our prayer for an earthly good is proper? If the design and purpose of the petitioner is ultimately ordered to the glory of God. Thus, St. Paul gives us this maxim: “Therefore, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all things for the glory of God.”
When we are in necessity, let us remember the Prodigal Son in how he went off into a foreign land, of how he squandered all the goods of his inheritance on loose living, and of how the good father while he was still off, ran to him, embraced and kissed him and gave his undeserving son the best he had to offer. We are the sinful children who have squandered God’s gifts in the foreign land of forbidden pleasure and have lost our inheritance from heaven, we lost those precious gifts and thus we turned back to God and He runs to meet us in the Sacraments and to kiss and embrace us with His divine life and grace and to feed us on the Body and Blood of Our Lord. That is what Confession is: the embrace and kiss of God. That is what the Eucharist is: the feast of the Body of our Redeemer. Can God our good and loving Father give us anything greater? And are we willing to forego this divine kiss and embrace because we could contract the coronavirus? My dear faithful, do we truly believe in what we profess? Is God our Father not the perfect giver of the most precious gifts? Would He give us a serpent if we asked for a fish? Is God our Father not the perfect giver of the most precious gifts?
We may be tempted to ask why we face so many tribulations in this life. We should then remember that in the beginning, God said about everything, “that it was good.” Adam had no need of troublesome work, of clothes, of weapons for preservation, of a house, of medicine – all was provided by God. But through his disobedience, this harmony was lost and God addressed these words: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat “thy” bread, till thou return to the earth, out of which thou wast taken; for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return.”
We are thus obliged to labour to relieve our necessities, yet unless God be favourable” our labours are in vain. The wise David exclaimed: “Unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” St. Paul too faced difficulties as his efforts seemed very fruitful in some places and arid in some causing him to say: “neither he that planteth is anything, nor he that watereth; but God who giveth the increase.”
What is the literal meaning of “Give us this day our daily bread?” Bread has two meanings: first it means food and our corporal goods for the life and well-being of the body, and secondly, the gifts of God for the life and salvation of the soul.
1) First, we pray for the necessaries for our daily food and clothing, what is necessary and simple, and not what is superfluous or luxurious. “Bread” is a humble food that satisfies the appetite and that is still sufficient for sustenance.
It is called “our” bread because it is to be acquired by us by lawful means, and as it becomes “our” we may possess and use these goods.
We say “daily” because of the necessity to pray to Him each day that which is necessary for that day, of doing our duty for that day, as the future is not yet ours.
We say “give us” as all things are in the bounty of God’s hands and nothing escapes them without His will.
We say “give us” and not “give me” because Christian charity dictates that that we are not solicitous about our needs alone but, that those with more be the active cause of helping their neighbor with his needs and interests.
We say “this day” so we’re called to daily invoke the Our Father for His blessings each day.
2) Secondly, the bread we pray for also signifies the gifts of God for the life and salvation of the soul – the spiritual bread to feed our spiritual soul. a) the Word of God is the food for the soul to nourish our soul on it’s journey of doing the will of God and following His Commandments as the book of Proverbs reads: “Come, eat my bread, and drink the wine I have mingled for you.” And just as we know someone is quickly approaching death when their body no longer absorbs food, so we know the soul is approaching its own death when the person disregards and seeks not the Word of God in the Scriptures. They are then led in mental blindness to a frenzied state of soul disregarding their spiritual death.
b) the second spiritual food is Our Lord in the Eucharist as He said: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven.” Food is consumed to fulfill our needs or desires: meat and carbs are consumed for good and healthy exercise; junk food and deserts are consumed for pleasure, so also our spiritual food must be adapted to our spiritual life. And what greater food can we have for the arduous spiritual exercises of humility, mortification, prayer and the works of charity than on the Body and Blood of Christ? There can be no greater food because there is no greater Person, no greater substance that the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
- and Our Lord gives us Himself as a pledge of His love. While the Father of the Prodigal Son gave the best material things for his undeserving son, God our Father gives us from His very being as a pledge of His love and as a pledge of our future glory in His Kingdom, and as a pledge that HE WILL NEVER ABANDON US: “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me and I in him.” As this divine food is the most august sacrament of the altar, the “our” can only refer to the faithful men and women who have united faith to charity and have washed away the defilements of sin by the Sacrament of Penance.
- The Catechism of the Council of Trent states that the Eucharist is our daily bread for two reasons: 1) it is offered to God daily in the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass, and that we should receive It daily if we seek It piously and holily, or if we cannot receive It, than we should still live each day in a manner to be able to receive. Against those overly strict, Jansenist, and rigorist in coming to Holy Communion only at great intervals, listen to St. Augustine : “If [the Eucharist] is daily bread, why do you receive It yearly? Receive what may profit you daily. Live so as to be worthy to receive [the Eucharist] daily.”
For you that are unable to make it to daily Mass here, the next best way to receive the daily bread of the Eucharist is to make a Spiritual Communion. Imagine the good if every family in the morning or in the evening, spent 5 minutes together in silence making a Spiritual Communion as a family, uniting themselves together first to Christ and then strengthening the bonds of the family…
“Give us this day our daily bread.” – Without His grace and outside His grace, we cannot do anything to merit our eternal beatitude – “Without Me, you can do nothing” Our Heavenly Lord said to His followers. To follow His will, to follow the Commandments perfectly and in a way to merit eternal life, we need His grace. “Give us this day our daily bread” is thus a humble recognition of our nothingness and of the goodness of Our Father and of the greatness of His abundant gifts and blessings that are both a bodily and spiritual means to help us attain our end.
How should we receive Holy Communion? The same way the priest is told to celebrate Holy Mass: As the first, as the only, as the last. Receive Holy Communion as if it were your first, receive Holy Communion as if it were your only, and receive Holy Communion as if it were your last.
To close this sermon, I’d like to address the most common of faults committed in this area: that of not making or not making sufficiently a proper thanksgiving after Mass. Remember, who was the first person to leave after the First Mass at the Last Supper? It was Judas. Where do we have to go after Mass that is more important that God? If we truly believe that Jesus is present in the Eucharist, that He truly remains in the Eucharist until the accidents of bread are completely digested, then He remains sacramentally in us for 15 minutes Thus, for 15 minutes after Communion, we are like Our Blessed Mother in the Annunciation as she bore Jesus. We too bear Our Lord sacramentally in our heart. Spend time with Mary. As a Thanksgiving: say the Magnificat, say part of the Rosary, entrust yourself to Mary as your mother, do the daily consecration to the Immaculate Conception. No one can help you make a better Thanksgiving than Mary. And as we just celebrated the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas one week ago, for your thanksgiving, read and meditate upon the wonderful Eucharistic hymns that he composed for Corpus Christi: like the Tantum Ergo, O Salutaris, Pange Lingua, Adoro te, etc. And how long should our thanksgiving be? It shouldn’t be shorter than 5 minutes once the priest leaves the sanctuary. If we are truly grateful for this spiritual food that we have just received, we’ll find the necessary time to digest and let this spiritual food transform our hearts in conformity with His. And when we’re finished, let us leave the Church in silence, letting all those who remain with Our Lord / the silence to allow God to more freely speak to them and them to God.
My dear faithful, may your daily Holy Communions or your daily Spiritual Communions give you the spiritual strength and energy to progress surely on the path to spiritual perfection in charity. May you always have the sufficient and proper material needs to bless God’s Name, to gain and spread His Kingdom, and to accomplish His Holy and Divine Will. May Christ be the source, may He accompany us, and may He be the end of all our earthy endeavors so that what He has helped us start, He will bring to its perfect completion. Amen.