13 June 2009

Sollemnitas Sanctissimi Corporis et Sanguinis Christi!

14 JUNE 2009. Today, in the United States, we celebrate the Solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi).

In the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, we the faithful commemorate the institution of the Holy Eucharist, which parallels Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday) commemorating Our Lord's institution of the Eucharist.

The Solemnity of Corpus Christi was added to the calendar of the Church in the 13th century to encourage the faithful to give special honor to the institution of the Holy Eucharist. Officially, the title of the solemnity was changed in 1970 to The Body and Blood of Christ (Latin: Sollemnitas Sanctissimi Corporis et Sanguinis Christi). The Solemnity of Corpus Christi for the universal Church remains officially on the Roman Missal's calendar on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. However, as in the United States, where the Solemnity of Corpus Christi is not a holy day of obligation, its celebration is moved to the following Sunday.

The celebration of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi can be traced to an Augustinian nun, Saint Juliana of Mont Cornillon. Saint Juliana became an Augustinian nun in Liege, France in 1206. From an early age Saint Juliana had a great veneration for the Blessed Sacrament, and longed for a special feast in honor of the Blessed Sacrament. Indeed, while gazing at a full moon having one dark spot, Saint Juliana had a vision that the Church was lacking a feast in honor of the Blessed Sacrament. While Holy Thursday also celebrates the institution of the Eucharist, it falls during Holy Week, which is a period of sadness where the focus is on the Passion of Our Lord, besides having other important connotations in addition to the institution of the Eucharist.

Saint Juliana made known her vision and her ideas for a feast in honor of the Blessed Sacrament to the Bishop of Liége, Robert de Thorete, to the learned Dominican Hugh who later became cardinal legate in the Netherlands, and to Jacques Panaléon, at the time Archdeacon of Liége, who later became Pope Urban IV. As a result, Bishop Robert de Thorete ordered that the feast be celebrated in his diocese.

Pope Urban IV later published the Bull Transiturus (September 8, 1264), in which, after having extolled the love of Our Savior as expressed in the Holy Eucharist, the Holy Father ordered the annual celebration of Corpus Christi on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. More than forty years later, Pope Clement V published a new decree which embodies Urban IV's decree and ordered the adoption of the feast at the General Council of Vienna (1311). Pope John XXII, successor of Clement V, urged this observance.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Here is some of what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches about the Blessed Sacrament:

1324 The Eucharist is "source and summit of the Christian life." "The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch."

1325 "The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God's action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit."

1326 Finally, by the Eucharistic Celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all.

1327 In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: "Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking."

Corpus Christ Processions

At the end of the Corpus Christi mass, it is customary to have a procession with the Holy Eucharist (usually outdoors) followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. While the Corpus Christi procession is not mentioned in the decrees of Pope Urban IV or Pope Clement V, it has nonetheless become the principle feature of the celebration of Corpus Christi and a strong tradition in Europe.

The Corpus Christ procession is really a prolongation of the celebration of the Eucharist. After the Mass, the Sacred Body of Our Lord, consecrated during the Mass, is processed out of the church for the faithful "to make public profession of faith and worship of the Most Blessed Sacrament." (Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, para. 162 (2001)) In the procession, the faithful participate symbolically as the people of God journeying with the Lord and proclaiming to all that God is with us! The Corpus Christ procession ends with the solemn blessing with the Blessed Sacrament.

No comments:

Post a Comment