Blessed Solemnity of Corpus Christi to you all!
The Feast of Corpus Christi also known in Liturgical Latin as Dies Sanctissimi Corporis et Sanguinis Domini Iesu Christi – Latin for “Day of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ the Lord” and as Solemnity of the Corpus Christi “Body of Christ” is a Christian liturgical solemnity celebrating the Real Presence of the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the elements of the Eucharist. Two months earlier, the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper is observed on Maundy Thursday in a sombre atmosphere leading to Good Friday. The liturgy on that day also commemorates Christ’s washing of the disciples’ feet, the institution of the priesthood.
The feast of Corpus Christi was proposed by St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) , Doctor of the Church to Pope Urban IV, in order to create a feast focused solely on the Holy Eucharist emphasising the joy of the Eucharist being the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Recognised the authenticity of the Eucharistic Miracle of Bolsena on input of St Thomas, in 1264 the pontiff, established the feast of Corpus Christi as a Solemnity and extended it to the universal Catholic Church.
The feast is liturgically celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday or, “where the Solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is not a holy day of obligation, it is assigned to the Sunday after the Most Holy Trinity as its proper day”, which is now the case in most countries. In the liturgical reforms of 1969, under Pope Paul VI, the bishops of each nation have the option to transfer it to the following Sunday.
At the end of Holy Mass, there is a procession of the Blessed Sacrament, generally displayed in a monstrance. A notable Eucharistic procession is that presided over by the Pope each year in Rome, where it begins at the Archbasilica of St John Lateran and passes to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, where it concludes with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
The feast of Corpus Christi is one of five occasions in the year on which a diocesan bishop is not to be away from his diocese unless for a grave and urgent reason.
By tradition, Catholics hear Mass then go in procession through the streets of their parish church’s neighbourhood, all whilst praying and singing. The Eucharist, known as the Blessed Sacrament, is placed in a monstrance and is held aloft by a member of the clergy during the procession. Usually, there are anything from 3 – 5 stops, where altars have been erected and Benediction takes place. The final Benediction usually takes place back in the Church.
Let us be transported to the same climate of expectation and joyful hope as we feel in the Adoro Te Devote with these last words of the Lauda Sion, the Eucharistic hymn/sequence also written by St Thomas Aquinas. (Fr Raneiro Cantalamessa O.F.M. “This is My Body”)
Source of all we have or know,
feed and lead us here below.
Grant that with Your saints above,
Sitting at the feast of love,
We may see You face to face.