A Letter for Corpus Christi To the Beloved in Christ at Ashmont Dear Friends, “At the Episcopal Church you get something to eat.” So spoke a visiting fellow Boy Scout after attending mass at my boyhood parish, St. James’ Church in Painesville, Ohio, in the 1950's. My friend was a Presbyterian, and they had “The Lord’s Supper” only four times a year. In simple terms, that’s why we come to mass: to be fed for life’s journey. And that’s why we celebrate Corpus Christi: to express our gratitude for the gift of this sustaining meal. The high point of every mass is, of course, the moment when Our Lord’s words transform the bread and wine into that food: “This is my Body,” “This is my Blood.” Jesus gives us nothing less than Himself. But I would like to focus on what is, to me, the second most important moment in the mass, which comes shortly before the words of Jesus. As we prepare ourselves to hear Jesus’ transforming words, we join ourselves with Christians of every age: “Therefore with angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious Name….” At this moment, the past, the present, and the future are one. Time ceases to exist. All our beloved dead from the past, all our fellow Christians in the present, and all those still unborn in the future are joined together to praise and magnify God. At this moment, we realize we are never alone. Our beloved – whether from the past or the present – are joined together with us in a fellowship – in a communion – that transcends time. I have just returned from the Shrine of Our lady of Walsingham in England where I was privileged once again to be a pilgrim. One of the things I always do at Walsingham is to pray - individually by name -- for all my beloved dead: family members and the many mentors and friends who have helped me over the years. I told a rather irreligious British friend of mine that I had prayed for my beloved dead, and he quickly remarked, “How morbid!” In actual fact, I can think of nothing more life-enhancing and life-enriching than praying for the dead. I find, as I offer up my beloved dead to God, that mysteriously it is I who am the beneficiary of my prayer. I am the one who receives. As I pray for them, I remember the wonderful moments in which I received support and encouragement; I recall nuggets of wisdom and counsel I received from them. And sometimes I feel inspired by their lives and find them role models for how to live. In praying for them, I also receive a perspective on my own life. I am reminded that human life is short. I am challenged to “seize the day” and do something for others in the short time that remains for me. My life becomes less claustrophobic, less self-centered. That is why at Walsingham and at several other times each year (for example, during All Saintstide and at the all-night Maundy Thursday vigil) I remember and pray for each of my beloved dead. The Bible calls our beloved dead “a great cloud of witnesses” who – unseen – always surround us and accompany us, who by their presence help and sustain us. That is why I find the words we say at every mass so poignant and powerful: “Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious Name.” I was in England a week before the Royal Wedding, and I was proud to learn that our wonderful Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, would be the preacher at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan. I was reminded of the opening words spoken by Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, when he preached at the wedding of Prince William and Kate in 2011: “‘Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.’ So said St. Catherine of Siena, whose festival day is today. Marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves.” F.W.J.