“The Body and Blood of Christ” and “His Racist Priests”

“The Body and Blood of Christ” and “His Racist Priests” June 13, 2020

This single post contains two separate articles: “The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ” and “His Racist Priests.”


Byzantine Paten and Chalice. Wikimedia / Public Domain.




John 6:51-58


The night Jesus first gave us to eat and drink Holy Communion in his Body and Blood, he himself ate and drank a holy communion of agony and death.

He agonized that night in prayer over holy communion with his Father’s will.

The next day he agonized unto death in holy communion with sinners.

True prayer and communion can be an agony of sadness, fear, pain, suffering and death, not always peace and joy.

True prayer and communion can kill, before they come to new life.

In agonized prayer in the Gethsemane garden, in communion with the Father’s will and in communion with sinners, Jesus suffered and died.

Saul of Tarsus had known of the agony of Jesus on the cross; but Saul looked on Jesus and the followers of Jesus as blasphemous enemies of the living, true God.

Near the city of Damascus, Jesus, God the Son, fell upon Saul with light from heaven, demanding, accusing, commanding and leaving Saul blind.

After Jesus stormed him that day, Saul agonized for three days without sight, food or drink.

Did he fear he would never see again?

Did he tell himself, “This is my punishment for helping at the killing of Stephen, for hunting down the followers of Jesus, my punishment for persecuting Jesus who is the Son of God, Jesus who has left me blind.”

As if such agony were not enough, one of the Damascus Christians heard Jesus say of Saul, “I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.”

On the road to Damascus, Saul suffered in light of Jesus, and would suffer even more for the name of Jesus.

Communion, prayer, agony, suffering, conversion, more suffering and finally death— the combination is not what we would like to have from the hands of Jesus.

Yet, Jesus himself accepted it from the hands of the Father.

Jesus willingly ate and drank it, and he dished out the same for Saul of Tarsus.

In his Gospel today, Jesus also dishes out something that can be tolerated only by conversion: Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you DO NOT HAVE LIFE within you.

Were it not for eating and drinking the Flesh and Blood of Jesus, his first followers would have just faded out, and Saul of Tarsus would not have needed to hunt them down for their blasphemy.

Without the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Jesus, all of Christianity would just have died out at the beginning.

Because of the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Jesus, Christianity is possible.

Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you DO NOT HAVE LIFE within you.”

We know this Gospel, and we know that many of the disciples who heard it chose to give up on Jesus.

About two thousand years later, you and I are here, struggling to follow Jesus.

Not all who call themselves disciples of Jesus believe, as we do, that we really eat the real Flesh of Jesus and that we really drink the real Blood of Jesus.

Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you DO NOT HAVE LIFE within you.”

The Church has said the same in our time, at Vatican Council II [Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10]:

the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the fount from which all her power flows. From the liturgy, therefore, and especially from the Eucharist, grace is poured forth upon us as from a fountain, and the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God … are achieved….

Because we eat the Flesh and drink the Blood of the Son of God, we have life within us, but we have it not merely for ourselves.

We have the life within us for the sake of God’s glory and the good of others.

That is why the Church is still here two thousand years later.

That is why the Church continues to be able to win converts for Jesus.

It is because Jesus lives in those who eat and drink his Flesh and Blood.

In spite of sickness, stupidity and sin in the Church, the Flesh and Blood life of Jesus is in the Church.

Jesus blasted Saul with that truth on the road to Damascus: Saul, why are you persecuting ME?

Saul was persecuting men and women whom Jesus counted as his own personal Flesh and Blood.

Saul, why are you persecuting ME?

We are sinners, and many see us as liars and fools.

Yet we are the Flesh and Blood of Jesus.

We eat and drink what look like wine and a thin wafer, yet we acknowledge them to be truly the Flesh and Blood of Jesus.

Things are not as they appear.

Agony, suffering, more suffering, death— they can all be the stuff of real conversion, real prayer, real communion with God.

Ask Saul at Damascus.

Ask Jesus and listen to him pray in the Gethsemane garden.

The agonies of Gethsemane and Golgotha opened the way for the ecstasies of rising from the dead.

Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.


Turn. Love. Repeat.






Catholic priests perpetrated the three most “right-into-my-personal-face” experiences of racism in my life.


Born in 1958 in the Philippines of Filipino parents, I came to the USA with them when I was less than a year old, and years later I became a citizen of the USA.  I entered my Benedictine monastery in California in 1981.



Around 1985, after learning that a Filipino Benedictine monk and priest had become the president of the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy in Rome, I mentioned it to a white priest here in California.

He smiled and chuckled.

I told him it was no joke.

Still smiling, he said, “No.”

I spoke again to tell him it was true.

His face turned angry, and raising his voice he told me, “How did a FILIPINO get that?”



In Rome, 1988 to 1991, I was a student at the international Benedictine theology school of Sant’ Anselmo.

I was a member there of the chant “schola,” the small choir that leads the chant during the Mass and the Divine Offices.  On some occasion outside the liturgy, someone complimented me on my voice.

A white European priest heard it, turned and told me my voice does not match my skin color and racial features.



Still in Rome.  A group of Europeans and I were speaking about the so-called “Indians,” the aboriginal indigenous peoples of the Americas.  I mentioned that the native peoples died quickly in great numbers because they had no resistance to the diseases the Europeans brought.  At that, a white priest (from Spain that had colonized the Americas and the Philippines) shouted me down with, “NO— YOU people gave US the diseases!”


Saul, why are you persecuting ME?


Turn. Love. Repeat.



Dear Readers of “Turn. Love. Repeat.”

California where I reside had a new law go into effect on January 1, 2020. California Assembly Bill 5 forbids freelance writers, editors and photographers from providing more than 34 content submissions to a media organization per year unless the organization hires the freelancer as a salaried employee. Patheos is a media organization, and I am a freelancer. So now I must limit my posts to 34 per year, or 1 post about every 10 days.

So as not to exceed my legal limit, between my postings here at Patheos I will publish my “extra” pieces at my personal blog, Monk Notes.

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