Around the world today the Feast of Corpus Christi (Latin for “Body of Christ”) is being celebrated with Mass, processions, wreaths and flowers. When I was a child growing up in our Polish Parish in Chicago, huge processions filled the streets on this day, weaving through neighborhoods, gathering people along the way and ending at our parish church for the celebration of Mass and then Adoration. I remember the Sisters teaching us that Jesus walked with us in a special way on the streets that day and that we should remember he always walked with us.
Corpus Christi appeared as a feast on the Roman calendar primarily due to the petitions of the thirteenth century Augustinian nun, Juliana of Liège, who from her childhood had a veneration for the Blessed Sacrament. She had a vision of Christ in 1208, in which He asked her to request the institution of a feast in honor of the Eucharist. The feast was first established locally, and then was spread to the Church universal in 1264 by Pope Urban IV. Today’s Gospel comes from Mark 14:12-26 where we hear: “While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Many have written reflections on the Eucharist – I’ve included a few below that spoke strongly to me in different ways:
Pope John Paul II wrote : “Lord Jesus, Who in the Eucharist make your dwelling among us and become our traveling companion, sustain our Christian communities so that they may be ever more open to listening and accepting your Word. May they draw from the Eucharist a renewed commitment to spreading in society, by the proclamation of your Gospel, the signs and deeds of an attentive and active charity. ” What an image – God dwelling among us and becoming our travelings companion in life!
Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s has a Benedictine spirit for me of hospitality – one of nourishment: “In each of our lives Jesus comes as the Bread of Life – to be eaten, to be consumed by us. This is how He loves us. Then Jesus comes in our human life as the hungry one, the other, hoping to be fed with the Bread of our life, our hearts by loving, and our hands by serving. In loving and serving, we prove that we have been created in the likeness of God, for God is Love and when we love we are like God. This is what Jesus meant when He said, “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
Father Damien, the Leper who wrote: “The Blessed Sacrament is indeed the stimulus for us all, for me as it should be for you, to forsake all worldly ambitions. Without the constant presence of our Divine Master upon the altar in my poor chapels, I never could have persevered casting my lot with the lepers of Molokai; the foreseen consequence of which begins now to appear on my skin, and is felt throughout the body. Holy Communion being the daily bread of a priest, I feel myself happy, well pleased, and resigned in the rather exceptional circumstances in which it has pleased Divine Providence to put me.” – which speaks to me of God’s constancy in times of difficulty, and who’s presence allows us to persevere in our calling. For more on Father Damien click on this link: http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Father_Damien.aspx
For a variety of perspectives on this Feast click on the links below:
Do you have a favorite experience, picture or quote about Eucharist or the Feast of Corpus Christi to hare with our community?