By Deacon Jerry Franzen - Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption
1 Kngs 19:4-8 Ephesians 4:30-5:2 John 6: 41-51
For a recent meeting of the permanent deacons
of the diocese of Covington,
an email went to all stating that we would begin
with Morning Prayer in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.
We had often met beginning with Morning Prayer
in the Blessed Sacrament chapel here in the Cathedral.
We then adjourned to Howard Hall, when it was standing,
for our light breakfast and meeting:
and lately we have been able to use the Latin School cafeteria
for the meeting and light breakfast.
On this particular occasion, the adjournment to Latin School
was not mentioned, but it was presumed
as part of our usual breakfast and meeting procedure.
As it turned out,
some of my brother deacons went to Blessed Sacrament parish
in Ft. Mitchell looking for the chapel there.
Now, we have met at some other parishes in the recent past,
but for me there is only one Blessed Sacrament Chapel.
I tell you this because I want to be sure that you know that,
in my subsequent remarks, when I refer to the chapel,
I will be referring to THE Blessed Sacrament Chapel
in this Cathedral.
It is a special place where you and God can meet in a special way.
There are words in Latin inscribed on vertical panels
on either side of the base of the tabernacle in the chapel.
To the left it reads, “Ecce Panis Angelorum.”
To the right “Factus Cibus Viatorum.”
Those are the Church Latin pronunciations,
not the classical Latin pronunciations.
“Ecce” is Latin for “Behold.”
What does the business named “Panera” specialize in?
“Bread” – “Panis” is Latin for “Bread.”
The famous hymn “Panis Angelicus” – Angelic Bread
“Angelorum” sounds like the word “Angel” with a special ending.
The ending signifies a plural form for persons
and includes the meaning of the word “of”
before the name of the persons.
So “Angelorum” means “of Angels.”
“Ecce Panis Angelorum” – “Behold, the Bread of Angels.”
“Factus” means “Made” – things are made in a ‘factory.’
“Cibus” is the Latin word for “Food.”
The vessel we use to contain the hosts of Holy Communion
is called a ciborium – literally a “food bowl.”
The last word is “Viatorum.”
We say that we can travel to Newport via the 12th St. Bridge.
“Via” means “by way of.”
Again, the ending orum indicates a plural form
for persons of some type and
the inclusion of the word “of” in front of the plural.
So “Viatorum” would mean “of those on the way”,
“of wayfarers” or “of travelers.”
So, “Ecce Panic Angelorum Factus Cibus Viatorum”
“Behold the Bread of Angels Made Food for Wayfarers.”
You might go over to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel after Mass
and check out those words. Now you know what they mean!
Today we continue in the Gospel reading
Jesus’ discourse on the Bread of Life.
The episode of Elijah and the angel,
which we heard in the first reading,
occurred after Elijah had won a little contest
with the pagan prophets of Baal.
He had challenged the pagan prophets to a test,
their pagan god, Baal,
vs the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel.
The god of the false prophets failed the test miserably
and the God of Elijah came through spectacularly.
Many of the pagans who witnessed the test fell prostrate and said,
“The Lord is God. The Lord is God.” They were converted.
This is one of my favorite stories in the Old Testament,
and I recommend it to your reading.
It’s near the end of the 18th Chapter in the First Book of Kings.
Eventually Elijah had all of the false prophets killed,
and God brought on a miraculously heavy rain
just as Elijah had predicted to the pagan king, Ahab.
When Ahab then told Queen Jezebel all that Elijah had done,
she became concerned that she might lose
her influence over the king,
so she threatened to do to Elijah
what he had done to her false prophets.
Elijah fled for his life,
and we find him today in the desert under the broom tree
praying for death,
because he is so disgruntled:
he had done the work of the Lord,
defeated the false prophets, impressed the pagan king
and what was his reward?
His life was threatened.
The angel tells him he has to eat and drink,
because his work is not finished.
God has more plans for him.
We are like Elijah.
We are the “viatorum.” We are the travelers. We are on the way.
Like Elijah, we have served the Lord in our lives,
and we may have been, at times,
discouraged with the outcome for us.
We may have wanted to quit like Elijah,
but, if our faith is strong, we know that God will provide
all that we need to continue our work, our journey.
He provided the hearth cakes and water for Elijah.
He provided water from the rock
and manna from the heavens for the Israelites.
He has gone beyond hearth cakes, manna and water for us.
God has provided the Bread of Angels, the Bread of Heaven,
His Son, as the food for us who are on the path of life.
This is who Jesus is; he is the Bread of Life,
not food to sustain our physical life,
not food to get us from one day to the next,
alough there are documented miraculous cases of saints’
lives being sustained
by just the daily reception of Holy Communion
and no other food.
Jesus is the spiritual food that nourishes our souls
and sustains our faith.
It is not the nourishment that gets us from day to day
in our physical lives;
it is the spiritual nourishment
that directs each of us to eternal life,
that keeps us focused on our salvation.
You may have heard me say this before:
it is easy to maintain our faith in God,
when things are going well.
But what about when things are not going well?
Some turn to alcohol, some turn to drugs, some even turn to food.
They try to eat themselves out of sadness,
bitterness and failure.
The message from Jesus is “I am the Bread of Life.
The bread that came down from the angels,
not the bread to sustain our life on the way,
but the bread that nourishes our faith
that keeps us aimed in the right direction.
Jesus said that in order to attain eternal life,
we must believe
that Holy Communion is really him,
flesh and blood, AND
that, when we receive Holy Communion
we are thus taking the flesh and blood of Jesus within us,
by eating and drinking.
And it is that Jesus within us
that we take out into the world each week to share with others.
It is just that simple.
In recent days we have learned of the death of Msgr. Ralph Beiting.
a priest from the Lexington Diocese,
who was a native of this diocese
and formerly a priest of this diocese
before the formation of the Diocese of Lexington.
He worked most of his life to bring the Gospel message
and relief from abject poverty
to the people of eastern Kentucky.
He was a giant laborer in the workforce of the Lord;
he brought the Bread of Life to many,
many who had never been fed at the Lord’s banquet.
This is what we are all called to do.
I don’t think I can make it any clearer
than it is written on the altar in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.
For in that tabernacle is kept
“The Bread of Angels Made Food of Wayfarers.”