“I am the living bread that has come down from heaven.”

Published on 16 Jun 2017

I think I know how John the Baptist must have felt when everywhere he went people kept asking him “Are you Elijah – come back from the dead?”. Everywhere I went in Guyana, people always used to ask me: “Are you related to Bryan O’Reilly?”

To which I had to respond: “only as brothers in the Lord”. It seemed to disappoint them hugely. One couple came to see me from three hundred miles away in Brazil because they had heard that Fr O’Reilly was back in the Amazon and were so disappointed that my first name was Paul, rather than Bryan that they could not even stay to tea.

Even so, it was a great joy to be able to report to Bryan the great love and affection that people in Guyana still felt for him after his many years of service to them as a Jesuit missionary priest. Fame may be a passing bubble, but love is not. After he retired from the Missions (at the age of 82) he went to work in our parish of “Corpus Christi”, Bournemouth in England. For the patronal feast of his parish he wrote a short poem for his parish newsletter, expressing something of what it means to him to have served the Eucharist all his life. Believing it worthy of a wider audience, his superior sent it in to our Province Newsletter. And, believing it worthy of a still wider audience I am sharing it with you here.

{For the best effect, take it somewhere quiet on your own and say it slowly and aloud.}

Corpus Christi

All absolutely empty.

Feelings have gone.

I gaze upon the crucifix.

And strive to ponder on the Eucharist.

Thoughts move along to the view

From my window of the church of Corpus Christi.

The garden, the bushes and the trees

A strange vision will appear at times

As I hear the chimes, and these

Remind me of so many things.

Our Lady sings in the breeze

That blows across the garden and the trees

And I listen to a voice that speaks most clearly

“This is my Body – This is the cup of my Blood.”

A flood of memories pour into my mind.

The very fabric of my being.

And now I am seeing bright clear

The vision that is mine here – at Corpus Christi.

No one will ever understand – why should they?

Contrition – Compassion – Wish-filled yearning – explains it all.

I hear the call

“Come Lord Jesus – come”.

Let us go out and profess our Faith in the Eucharist – the Presence of God in the World.

Paul O'Reilly SJ