Solemnity of Corpus Christi ~ The Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

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Reading 1: EX 24:3-8  Resp Psalm: PS 116:12-13,15-16,17-18  Reading 2: HEB 9:11-15  Gospel: MK 12-16, 22-26

Today we celebrate the Great Feast of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, an important feast observed by Christians throughout the world. We celebrate the fact that we as Catholics know that the Holy Eucharistic gifts of the bread and of the wine are not merely representing Christ, but truly are the body and blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ as instituted at the last supper by Our Lord Jesus and his disciples just prior to his passion.

Whilst the institution of the Eucharist occurred on Holy Thursday, the solemn nature of Holy Week and the focus on Good Friday somewhat overshadows that aspect of Holy Thursday. The Feast of Corpus Christi is held on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday, but many churches have now transferred this feast to today, the Sunday after Trinity Sunday.

The Feast of Corpus Christi, also often called The Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, goes back to the 13th century.  In 1246, Bishop Robert De Thorete of the Belgina Diocese of Liege, at the suggestion of St. Juliana of Mont, convened a synod, and at this synod the Feast of Corpus Christi was instituted from Liege. After this, the feast spread and on September 8th 1264, Pope Urban IV issued the papal “Transiturus” which established the Feast as a universal feast of the church.

At the request of Pope Urban IV, St. Thomas of Aquinas composed the office for the feast which is still used by many churches today.  Until recent times, the Feast of Corpus Christi was celebrated with a Eucharist procession, in which the Host was carried throughout the town, accompanied by hymns and litanies and the faithful would venerate the Body of Christ as it passed by. Today this practice has almost but disappeared.  However, some churches still hold a smaller version of the procession around the outside of their church.

In John 6:53-56 the Lord tells us: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”

Let us offer to the lord this prayer of Anima Christi:

Soul of Christ, be my sanctification;

Body of Christ, be my salvation;

Blood of Christ, fill my veins;

Water of Christ’s side, wash out my stains;

Passion of Christ, my comfort be;

O good Jesu, listen to me;

In Thy wounds I fain would hide;

Ne’er to be parted from Thy side;

Guard me, should the for assail me;

Call me when my life shall fail me;

Bid me come to Thee above;

With Thy saints to sing Thy love,

World without end.

Amen.

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