Editor’s Note: Matthew Chicoine interviewed Father Richard Libby via phone call on August 23rd, 2023. Some of the questions have been rearranged and edited to provide the best reader experience without losing any integrity of the answers given.
Today’s topic is sacramentals and Catholic saints and devotions attached to them. I had the pleasure of interviewing Father Richard Libby about his experience with sacramentals and how they impacted his spiritual life.
Thank you for meeting with me again Father Libby. 🙂
Happy to talk with you Matthew!
What’s a sacramental?
An object that leads us to greater devotion. Items like the Rosary, the scapular, and the medal. They are intended to stir up our devotion.
Has your mindset towards sacramentals change much since you were ordained a priest?
There wasn’t much of a change in my attitude over the sacramentals since becoming a priest. But I have seen more and more how sacramentals are instruments to help us our journey. I have developed a new appreciation.
What sacramentals have you used during your priesthood most often?
The Rosary and the Brown Scapular. I’m also developing a greater appreciation of the Saint Benedict Medal and the Holy Face Medal.
Holy water is a sacramental and some people don’t see it as a sacramental. I like to do the rite of sprinkling once a month at my parish. I enjoy having it in the Epiphany Blessing. Holy Water is recommended in blessings such as the investiture of the Brown Scapular.
Describe a bit of your spirituality.
I was a devotee of the Brown Scapular. Since becoming a priest, I have have the opportunity to visit a Carmelite hermitage and developed friendships with them.
Which Catholic saint has had the biggest impact on your spiritual life?
The Blessed Virgin Mary and Her Rosary. I try to make it a point to pray it daily. While it’s not a required devotion, it’s such a part of our life it’s hard to imagine a Catholic without a rosary.
The three popes (John Paul II, Benedict XVI, Francis) I know the best in my lifetime have had a notable devotion to Mary.
John Paul II had a year of the Rosary during his pontificate. JPII wrote a document on the Rosary. He was influenced by Saint Louis de Montfort. Perhaps there is no more noteworthy child of Mary, in recent history, than John Paul II.
Benedict XVI’s devotion was a bit more reserved than JPII’s. However, he did dedicate his Pontificate to Mary, so there’s no question the Blessed Virgin Mary was influential on his papacy.
Pope Francis goes to the Saint Mary Major Basilica in Rome anytime he goes on a major trip.
Any last words of advice, for new Catholic converts in terms of beginning or learning about a sacramental and devotion.
Meet with your parish priest and ask them for guidance. They should be able to connect you with resources about sacramentals.
Thank you for your time, Father Richard! It was great chatting with you.
You’re welcome! Great talking with you too.
About Father Richard Libby:
Father Richard Libby is a priest of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, where he serves as pastor of St. Helena Parish and as the chancellor of the diocese. In his free time, he enjoys reading, writing poems and short stories, and birdwatching.
In a world marked by constant change, it is reassuring to find an unchanging source of love and nourishment. For Catholics, that source is the Holy Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. In this blog post, we will explore the significance of critically reading John 6 for Protestant conversions, delve into the profound beauty and power of the Eucharist, and discover the rich history behind Corpus Christi processions. We will also share a personal story that exemplifies the impact of this sacrament on the lives of believers.
The Bread of Life Discourse (John 6)
John 6 is vital to Corpus Christi, honoring Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist. It’s the Gospel reading for Corpus Christi Mass, emphasizing its central role.
In John 6:53, Jesus says, “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life.” These words challenge us to contemplate their deep meaning. By critically engaging, we recognize Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist, a foundational belief.
Understanding the historical context of John 6 further strengthens our appreciation for the Eucharist. Early Christians interpreted Jesus’ words literally and embraced the real presence of Christ in this sacrament. Exploring the writings of early Church Fathers, such as St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Justin Martyr, offers insights into the consistent understanding of the Eucharist throughout history.
Additionally, John 6 addresses the spiritual hunger that resonates with many individuals, including Protestants seeking a deeper encounter with Christ. The transformative power of the Eucharist is a source of nourishment for the soul, fulfilling our spiritual yearnings. Through this sacrament, we establish a unique connection with Jesus and experience the fullness of His presence.
As we celebrate Corpus Christi, the significance of John 6 resonates strongly. It invites us to critically reflect on the explicit language, historical context, and spiritual hunger addressed within this chapter. Through this contemplation, we have the opportunity to deepen our understanding of the Eucharist and embrace the Catholic belief in the real presence of Christ.
The Splendor and Power of the Eucharist
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1374, “The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as ‘the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend.’ In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist ‘the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.'” The Eucharist is not merely symbolic, but a profound reality where we encounter Jesus Himself.
Saint John Chrysostom beautifully captures the essence of the Eucharist when he says, “You do see Him. You do touch Him. You eat Him. He gives Himself to you, not only that you may see Him, but also to be your food and nourishment.”
The Eucharist is the most precious and powerful gift in the world. Christ’s presence in the Blessed Sacrament nourishes us throughout life. Pope Benedict XVI emphasized this truth in a 2006 Corpus Christi homily. He said, “In the procession we follow this sign and in this way we follow Christ himself. And we ask of him: Guide us on the paths of our history! Show the Church and her Pastors again and again the right path! Look at suffering humanity, cautiously seeking a way through so much doubt; look upon the physical and mental hunger that torments it! Give men and women bread for body and soul!”
Corpus Christi Processions
A Tradition of Faith and Devotion: Corpus Christi, meaning “Body of Christ” in Latin, is a celebration of the Eucharist that dates back to the 13th century. This feast was established to honor and adore the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. One of the most significant devotional practices associated with Corpus Christi is the procession.
Corpus Christi processions involve the public display and veneration of the Blessed Sacrament. They are a visible expression of faith, as believers gather to witness the Eucharist being carried in solemn procession through the streets. This practice began in response to the theological controversies surrounding the Eucharist, serving as a powerful affirmation of Catholic doctrine.
Sharing My Personal Eucharistic Experiences
My family’s personal encounter with the Eucharist has been transformative. Our youngest son, at the age of three, demonstrated an understanding and reverence for the Mass. During the Eucharistic Prayer, he would joyfully exclaim, “I see [the] Body of Christ. I want to get more Body of Christ!” Through his innocent proclamation, we gained a deeper appreciation for the significance of the Eucharist and the faith of children as powerful teachers.
This year, my family eagerly anticipates participating in the Corpus Christi procession. We will join fellow believers in embarking on a three-mile journey from Holy Spirit Church to Saint Lambert Parish. As we walk alongside others, united in faith and devotion, we will honor the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and proclaim our love for Him. In the words of Pope Francis on the Feast of Corpus Christi 2018, “The Eucharist is simple food, like bread, yet it is the only food that satisfies, for there is no greater love. There we encounter Jesus really; we share his life and we feel his love.”
Food for the Journey
The Eucharist, a precious and powerful gift, transforms hearts and fosters unity among Christians. By critically reading John 6, we deepen our understanding of this sacrament and its profound theology. Corpus Christi processions express our faith, reminding us of God’s unwavering love. As we journey in faith, let’s embrace the Eucharist with awe and gratitude. Jesus’ gift of His Body and Blood nourishes our souls and unites us with Himself.
O most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of Heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in this my necessity. O Star of the Sea, help me and show me herein that you are my Mother.
O Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and earth, I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart, to succor me in this my necessity. There are none that can withstand your power. O show me herein that you are my Mother.