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Remembering Jesus as St. John Neumann Did and Sought to Help Others Do

PHILADELPHIA, June 1 — During a Holy Hour with First Vespers for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Seton Route chaplain Father Roger Landry preached a homily during Vespers on St. Paul's focus on Jesus' words "Do this in remembrance of me," what remembering Jesus means, as well as how St. John Neumann remembered and sought to help the mid-19th century Catholics in Philadelphia remember.

Father Landry began with the reading from Vespers, taken from St. Paul's first Letter to the Corinthians, in which the apostle writes, "For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, 'This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.'  In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes."

Father Landry illustrated the Jewish understanding of remembrance not fundamentally as an intellectual exercise of memory but as making actual what is remembered. This is what the Jewish understanding of Passover is and Jesus built on that in the institution narrative of the Mass — "Do this in memory of me." Just like Jesus did more than remember the Good Thief but promised that he would be with him in paradise, so by our "remembering" Jesus through the Sacrament of the Eucharist, we are with him here in this world in hope of the same paradise.

Because Saturday was the first day of June, the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Father Landry mentioned that Jesus in his apparitions to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in Paray-le-Monial France 350 years ago (from Dec. 27, 1673 through June 16, 1675), complained about being forgotten and treated by ingratitude, irreverence, sacrilege, coldness and scorn, even by those consecrated to him. Landry said that the remedy is to flip these five ways of forgetting and mistreating Jesus into five ways to remember him and treat him as he desires and deserves: with ceaseless thanksgiving, piety, holiness, passion, and praise.

Father Landry underlined how St. John Neumann remembered the Eucharistic Jesus, sought to help others to remember him and to treat him with gratitude, reverence, sanctity, ardor and love.

He arrived in New York on Corpus Christi in 1836 and was ordained a priest within three weeks because there was such a need for trained German-speaking priests. Awaiting ordination, he prepared young children for their first Holy Communion. Landry said that Neumann's connection to Corpus Christi as well as his teaching others how to receive Jesus well are summaries of his entire priestly and episcopal life.

Father Landry detailed how St. John Neumann sought in his second year as Bishop of Philadelphia (1852-1860) to institute a 40-hours devotion in each parish at least once a year so that there would be an opportunity for people to adore Jesus. He received pushback from his clergy because they thought it would exacerbate anti-Catholicism among the Protestant majority. After a mystical experience, however, in which Jesus told him to move ahead, Neumann decreed it to take place in the Archdiocese.

Landry underlined how now we have more than the opportunity for 40-hours of Eucharistic adoration in a parish in a year, but many of them have four-plus 40-hours a week and have 8,760 hours of adoration a year in one of the 800 perpetual Eucharistic chapels in the country.

He urged those in attendance, in the midst of the National Eucharistic Revival, to remember the Eucharistic Jesus and seek to live in full-time, unending communion with him.

To listen to Father Landry's homily, please click here.


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