Thursday, June 3, 2010

Feast of Corpus Christi

As you might have gathered from my last few posts, we Catholics just love processions. There are lots of reasons for this, not least of which is the fact that it’s a very public profession of faith that our Lord is entirely present in the Blessed Sacrament which precedes us. But it’s more than that: We do it for reparation as well, for the irreverence and offenses against Christ in this Blessed Sacrament; we do it for adoration; we do it in thanksgiving.

There is, of course, a precedent for all this, namely the procession which carried the manna-filled Ark of the Covenant, as mentioned earlier. And today’s Introit references that by way of David’s 80th Psalm:

He fed them with the fat of wheat, alleluia; and filled them with honey, out of the rock, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Rejoice in God, our Helper: sing aloud to the God of Jacob.

Today we celebrate the institution of the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar — Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ. Not a holy day of obligation, it is nevertheless a feast of the First Class. Maundy Thursday, which also celebrates our Lord’s institution of the Eucharist, is observed in a season of sadness, which is why Corpus Christi was introduced, in a time of joy, the Thursday after Trinity Sunday.

The Sequence (Lauda Sion) is a beautifully apropos work by St. Thomas Aquinas around 1254. Here’s an excerpt:

See today before us laid
The living and life-giving Bread,
Theme for praise and joy profound.

The same which at the sacred board
Was, by our incarnate Lord,
Giv’n to His Apostles round.

Let the praise be loud and high:
Sweet and tranquil be the joy
Felt today in every breast.

On this festival divine
Which records the origin
Of the glorious Eucharist.

This feast was formally established by Pope Urban IV’s bull Transiturus in 1264, and was upheld by Clement V forty years later at the Council of Vienna. The processions began as a grass-roots expression of faith and were never formalized, but became traditional features over time. They too were eventually endowed with certain indulgences for their pious exercise by Popes Martin V and Eugene IV.

Today we also begin the Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus! See here for details. But be careful about poking around elsewhere on that site — they have some weird views on the immortality of the soul (abortion murders not only the child but the child’s soul?) and the very function of Baptism (man receives a “new heart and spirit”?) in their Bible courses. Their Novena page is really nice; just print it and go with that.

Or, just follow this video:

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