Saturday, June 09, 2012

Corpus Christi

This weekend in the USA we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. In many parishes there will be Eucharistic processions with the priest carrying the monstrance--the container which holds the consecrated round wafer which is the Body of Christ.
At Christmas we celebrate Emmanuel, God-with-us. In a real sense Emmanuel, God is with us everyday in the Eucharist. In preparation for this celebration of Corpus Christi I have been reading and meditating on a little book called "The Holy Eucharist" by Capuchin Franciscan Father Raniero Cantalamessa. After attending four sessions on the liturgy of the Mass by Father Dennis Gill of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Father Cantalamessa's book is a perfect segue. Fr. Cantalamessa explains how Jesus wants all of his Body, which is us too, to be offered with him to God the Father.When we are absent from the Mass, part of Jesus' Mystical body (us) is not there.
How many times have we seen crowds wait in line for hours to get a glimpse of a Rock Star as he or she exited a posh limo at a film premiere? Or have you ever waited for a concert with tickets that cost a fortune? Christ is present in the Eucharist, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Usually there is little or no fanfare, no security guards, no barricades, just a hushed atmosphere, no entrance fee, sometimes dim lighting, a few loyal souls gathered to adore whenever we enter an adoration chapel. Or, at Mass we may have to wait in line to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. That wait is far from oppresive and often very brief. We become "walking tabernacles" containing the Body and Blood of Christ. Rather than rush out of the church right after Communion do we sit and chat with our "Little White Guest?" I made my first Holy Communion when I was in the second grade. After receiving Jesus for the first time we sang a hymn called "My Little White Guest." I can still remember some of  the lyrics: "You have come to my heart, dearest Jesus, I am holding you close to my breast. And, I am telling you over and over, 'You are welcome, my Little White Guest.' "
For the Feast of Corpus Christi I pray that all my readers may enjoy the peace of Christ that comes from receiving him into our bodies and nourishes us spiritually. Vatican II called the Eucharistic celebration the "source and summit" of all our faith. Christ is the Mighty God yet he humbles himself to be food for our souls. He invites us to celebrate with him at Mass.
As a prelude to Corpus Christi Day, I find that the Vatican II document on the Saced Liturgy is a great help:
Nevertheless the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed;  at the same time it is the font [or source] from which all her power flows. For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord's supper.

  • The liturgy in its turn moves the faithful, filled with "the paschal sacraments," to be "one in holiness"; it prays that "they may hold fast in their lives to what they have grasped by their faith"; the renewal in the Eucharist of the covenant between the Lord and man draws the faithful into the compelling love of Christ and sets them on fire. From the liturgy, therefore, and especially from the Eucharist, as from a font, grace is poured forth upon us; and the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God, to which all other activities of the Church are directed as toward their end, is achieved in the most efficacious possible way. (Taken from Vatican II;s "Sacro Sanctum Concilium, On the Sacred Liturgy" #10.)

When was the last time you felt "on fire" as you exited the Church after Mass? I ask myself that and I resolve to meditate more often on the meaning of the Mass, the Eucharist, Corpus Christi!

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