A priest I know, when he was a seminarian studying in Rome, once had the honor of serving Mass for Pope – now Saint – John Paul II, on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. Before Mass, in the sacristy, the Pope asked him what Corpus Christi processions were like in his home diocese (he was from Pennsylvania). He replied to the surprised Pope that he had never seen a Corpus Christi procession.
That’s a shame, because Corpus Christi processions are a concrete, public, and beautiful way of manifesting our faith in the Real Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist.
In this regard, let’s listen together to these stirring words of St. John Vianney:
“If someone said to us, ‘At such an hour a dead person is to be raised to life,’ we would run very quickly to see it. But is not the Consecration, which changes bread and wine into the Body and Blood of God, a much greater miracle than to raise a dead person to life? For this reason, we ought always to devote at least a quarter of an hour to preparing ourselves to hear Mass well. And we should not fail to make our examination of conscience, for we must be in a state of grace to be able to assist properly at Mass. If we knew the value of the holy Sacrifice of the Mass or, rather, if we had faith, we would be much more zealous to assist at it.”
There’s an old saying that “familiarity breeds contempt.” With regard to the Eucharist, familiarity (hopefully!) does not breed contempt, but it can and does breed indifference. National polls relay distressing percentages of Catholics who do not yet believe in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist. Just by observing the casualness and even, sad to say, thoughtlessness with which many people receive Holy Communion, we must admit to ourselves that we must do much more to foster faith in and piety toward the Holy Eucharist. In fact, we cannot possibly honor the Holy Eucharist adequately or enough, because the Holy Eucharist is Jesus Himself. The great Solemnity of Corpus Christi is dedicated to renewing in our minds and hearts a true amazement at the gift, the mystery, and the reality of the Eucharist, which is a gift beyond our reckoning.
In next week’s bulletin, there will be a special bulletin insert with guidelines for receiving Holy Communion with care and reverence, as a reminder and refresher for us all. But for now, looking ahead to next weekend’s Corpus Christi celebrations, let’s ponder together the words of St. John Paul II, who once said: “This is the wonderful truth, my dear friends: the Word, which became flesh two thousand years ago, is present today in the Eucharist.”
God bless you!
Corpus Christi (Body and Blood of Christ) is a Eucharistic solemnity, or better, the solemn commemoration of the institution of that sacrament. It is, moreover, the Church's official act of homage and gratitude to Christ, who by instituting the Holy Eucharist gave to the Church her greatest treasure. Holy Thursday, assuredly, marks the anniversary of the institution, but the commemoration of the Lord's passion that very night suppresses the rejoicing proper to the occasion. Today's observance, therefore, accents the joyous aspect of Holy Thursday.
Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ: Corpus Christi
Sunday Connection on The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Loyola Press shares these activities for children and families. Enjoy!
Corpus Christi vividly reminds us to reverence the central mystery of the Faith and draw near to it
Read this interesting and informative article on the origins of the Corpus Christi traditions.
Our Sunday Visitor
“In this sacrament, the Lord is always coming to the world. This universal aspect of the Eucharistic presence is shown in the procession of our feast. We take Christ, present in the figure of bread, through the streets of our city. We entrust these streets, these homes, our daily life, to his goodness. May our streets be Jesus’ streets! May our homes be homes for him and with him! May his presence penetrate our everyday life. With this gesture, we place before his eyes the sufferings of the sick, the loneliness of youth and the elderly, temptations, fears, our whole life. The procession is intended to be a great and public blessing for our city: Christ is, in person, the divine blessing for the world. May the ray of his blessing extend over all of us!”
From the Homily of Pope Benedict for the Feast of Corpus Christi in 2005
We believe with great strength, that Jesus is truly present under the forms of bread and wine.
But there's another reality about the Blessed Sacrament that we perhaps have not given as much emphasis to as we should, because if we listen carefully to the scriptures, we discover that not only are those elements of bread and wine transformed into the body and blood of Christ, but also the community of disciples -- we, who are the church -- are transformed into the body and blood of Christ. We become the living Jesus, present in our world.
National Catholic Reporter
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