by PATRICK J. BUECHI
Wed, Mar 13th 2019 09:50 am
The fourth Annual Catholic Women's Conference, "Nourished by Christ," Keynote speaker Sonja Corbitt speaks conference organizers Amy Blair, Our Lady of Pompeii, Valerie Zafuto, St. John de LaSalle, and Annie Esposito, St. Vincent DePaul at St. Mary's High School in Lancaster. Corbitt, who is from Nashville, is a Bible Study Evangelista and creator of the "Love the Word Bible study method and Mary Journal. She has written three liturgical books, her latest entitled "Fulfilled.
Dan Cappellazzo/Staff photographer
[The following correction was made in the quote: Corbitt said if someone receives only the Eucharist, he or she is receiving only half of the "one table of the Lord."]
With a Southern "Hey y'all," author, speaker and podcast host Sonja Corbitt took to the stage to speak to other Catholic women about their role as a human monstrance. Corbitt, along with Father David Richards, served as special guests for the annual Catholic Women's Conference hosted by Catholic Women of Buffalo Inc. The March 9 conference was held at St. Mary's High School in Lancaster.
Corbitt, author of "Unleashed" and "Fulfilled: Uncovering the Biblical Roots of Catholicism," uses her books and radio series "Bible Study Evangelista" to deliver a simple message - "Jesus literally loves you to death; let Him."
After describing the roots of the Eucharist as told in John 6, Corbitt explained that Mary was the first monstrance or receptacle that holds the body of Jesus.
"She was the first to receive completely the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ," the Tennessean said. "Not only did she receive Him, she gave Him to us. She is the first monstrance." As a former Southern Baptist, Corbitt had trouble understanding Mary, especially her assumption and sharing characteristics of Jesus' divinity. Then she read a Scientific American report on a discovery that showed every mother retains the DNA of her children.
"So the assumption of Mary makes sense, because if Jesus ascended and rose, and He left DNA in her body, she has to too," Corbitt explained. "We are also called to imitate her, not just women, but men too, because Mary is the image of every Christian. Why? Because women are receivers, and every soul receives from God, male or female."
Corbitt said if someone receives only the Eucharist, he or she is receiving only half of the "one table of the Lord." Scripture must be included in one's daily life to fully absorb who Jesus is. She asked the more than 220 women present to spend five minutes a day during Lent reading the Bible.
"The Word of God is living and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword. It reaches between the division of marrow. It gets in the souls. God sees into us and He can change us from the inside out, so the sin's gone and we can begin the restoration of life in our own home, in our own parishes, in our world," Corbitt said.
Father Richards, administrator of Our Lady of Pompeii Parish in Lancaster, gave some advice for Catholics from his Ash Wednesday homily. He suggested, in song, something from the Simon & Garfunkel tune "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)."
"The feeling groovy part is all about Easter Sunday, but I wanted to focus Ash Wednesday on slow down, we move too fast."
He admits when he preaches his homilies, he is really preaching to himself. Making time to attend the conference is a way of slowing down and putting God at the center.
"I have to be honest with you," he said, taking a serious tone. "It's a hard time to be a priest. It's painful. I think I'm only here because of the Eucharist when it's all is said and done. I can do what I do anywhere else, I think. I can show up at any corner church and say I have a divinity degree and if you're looking for some sort of minister. ... The Eucharist is the heart and soul of everything that a priest does."
Along with sharing the Eucharist with a community of believers and reading Scripture, Father Richards said we, as individuals, must give of ourselves. "In order for us to give, we have to allow ourselves to be broken like Jesus at the Lamb of God." Just as a priest will break the Host in front of the congregation then share, we must allow ourselves to move away from selfishness to become broken and shared.
"It's all about focusing on the Eucharist and Jesus. That's just my opinion. Keep your eyes on Jesus, and everything will fall into place," Father Richards concluded.
The mission of Catholic Women of Buffalo Inc. is to encourage women to rediscover the beauty of the Catholic faith by hosting inspirational speakers and providing resources for support and guidance for the spiritual journey.
"The conference is for any women in the diocese to come and feel refreshed and rejuvenated, and have some time with other women to rest in the Lord, meet new friends, and just feel part of a larger community of Catholic women," explained Annie Esposito, who organized the event with partners Amy Blair and Valerie Rottella-Zafuto. "We try to partner with other apostolates and organizations to celebrate life and support women who are struggling in different areas."