Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus
Pope Urban instituted Corpus Christi for the Universal Church and celebrated it for the first time in Orvieto in 1264, a year after the Eucharistic Miracle in Bolsena.
In 1263 a German priest, Fr. Peter of Prague, made a pilgrimage to Rome. He stopped in Bolsena, Italy, to celebrate Mass at the Church of St. Christina. At the time he was having doubts about Jesus being truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. In response to his doubt, when he recited the prayer of consecration as he celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, blood started seeping from the consecrated host and onto the altar and corporal.
Fr. Peter reported this miracle to Pope Urban IV, who at the time was nearby in Orvieto. The pope sent delegates to investigate and ordered that host and blood-stained corporal be brought to Orvieto. The relics were then placed in the Cathedral of Orvieto, where they remain today
The Eucharist is Jesus Christ, truly present in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. It is the same Jesus born at Bethlehem, who died on the Cross and rose triumphant in Jerusalem and now reigns eternally in Heaven. People wait in line for hours and pay thousands of dollars to go to super bowls or concerts, yet the greatest treasure on this earth is often overlooked, taken for granted or not believed in. Jesus, true God and true man, is here with us and in every catholic church in the tabernacle in which he is reserved. It is truly Jesus.
Corpus Christi is three feasts in one: the feast of the Eucharistic sacrifice, the feast of the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the feast of the Real Presence of Jesus in this Sacrament. Corpus Christi is a doctrinal feast established for three purposes: 1) to give God collective thanks for Christ’s abiding presence with us in the Eucharist and to honor Him there; 2) to instruct the people in the Mystery, Faith and devotion surrounding the Eucharist, and 3) to teach us to appreciate and make use of the great gift of the Holy Eucharist, both as a Sacrament and as a sacrifice.
Dominic Tang, the courageous Chinese archbishop, was imprisoned for twenty-one years for nothing more than his loyalty to Christ and Christ’s one, true Church. After he had spent five years of solitary confinement in a windowless, damp cell, he was told by his jailers that he could leave it for a few hours to do whatever he wanted. Five years of solitary confinement and he had a couple of hours to do what he wanted! What would it be? A hot shower? A change of clothes? Certainly, a long walk outside? A chance to call or write to family? What would it be? the jailer asked him. “I would like to say Mass,” replied Archbishop Tang. Once you fall in love with receiving Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, nothing on this earth can satisfy that hunger and desire for Christ truly present in the Eucharist.
The Catholic Church teaches that in the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of the God-man are really, truly, substantially, and abidingly present together with his soul and divinity by reason of the Transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. This takes place in the unbloody sacrifice of the Mass.”
Our belief in this Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist derives from the literal interpretation of the promise of Christ to give us his Body and Blood for our spiritual food and drink, as found in St. John’s Gospel, Chapter 6, and also in the four independent accounts of the fulfillment of this promise at the Last Supper (Mt 26; Mk 14; Lk 22; 1 Cor 11). The doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist has been handed down to us directly from Our Lord Jesus Christ through his Apostles and this has been the unchanging teaching of the Catholic Church. The Eucharist Is Not a symbol of Jesus Christ, it is Jesus Christ!
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.”134 “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.
The fruits of Holy Communion
· Holy Communion augments our union with Christ. the principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist in Holy Communion is an intimate union with Christ Jesus. Indeed, the Lord said: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”223 Life in Christ has its foundation in the Eucharistic banquet: “As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me.”224
What material food produces in our bodily life, Holy Communion wonderfully achieves in our spiritual life. Communion with the flesh of the risen Christ, a flesh “given life and giving life through the Holy Spirit,”226 preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace received at Baptism. This growth in Christian life needs the nourishment of Eucharistic Communion, the bread for our pilgrimage until the moment of death, when it will be given to us as viaticum.
· Holy Communion separates us from sin. the body of Christ we receive in Holy Communion is “given up for us,” and the blood we drink “shed for the many for the forgiveness of sins.” For this reason the Eucharist cannot unite us to Christ without at the same time cleansing us from past sins we have confessed and venial sins and preserving us from future sins
· The Eucharist, As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity, which tends to be weakened in daily life; and this living charity wipes away venial sins. By giving himself to us Christ revives our love and enables us to break our disordered attachments to creatures and root ourselves in him:
…. Having received the gift of love of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, let us die to sin and live for God.229
By the same charity that it enkindles in us, the Eucharist preserves us from future mortal sins. the more we share the life of Christ and progress in his friendship, the more difficult it is to break away from him by mortal sin. the Eucharist is not ordered to the forgiveness of mortal sins – that is proper to the sacrament of Reconciliation. the Eucharist is properly the sacrament of those who are in full communion with the Church.
· The unity of the Mystical Body: the Eucharist makes the Church. Those who receive the Eucharist are united more closely to Christ. Through it Christ unites them to all the faithful in one body – the Church. Communion renews, strengthens, and deepens this incorporation into the Church, already achieved by Baptism. Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread:” The Tre Presence of Christ
· The Eucharist commits us to the poor. To receive in truth the Body and Blood of Christ given up for us, we must recognize Christ in the poorest, his brethren:
You have tasted the Blood of the Lord, yet you do not recognize your brother,…. You dishonor this table when you do not judge worthy of sharing your food someone judged worthy to take part in this meal…. God freed you from all your sins and invited you here, but you have not become more merciful.233
· The Eucharist – “Pledge of the Glory To Come”
In an ancient prayer the Church acclaims the mystery of the Eucharist: “O sacred banquet in which Christ is received as food, the memory of his Passion is renewed, the soul is filled with grace and a pledge of the life to come is given to us.” If the Eucharist is the memorial of the Passover of the Lord Jesus, if by our communion at the altar we are filled “with every heavenly blessing and grace,”239 then the Eucharist is also an anticipation of the heavenly glory.
The Eucharist helps us become Christ-bearers and -conveyers: By receiving Holy Communion we become Christ-bearers as Mary was, with the duty of conveying Christ to others at home and in the workplace, as love, mercy, forgiveness and humble and sacrificial service.
We need to prepare properly to receive Holy Communion:
If we have tarnished God’s image within us by Mortal Sin, there is always need for repentance, and a need for the Sacramental confession of our grave sins, before we receive Holy Communion. We should remember the warning given by St. Paul for sacrilegious communions: “Whoever, therefore, eats the Bread or drinks the Cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the Body and Blood of the Lord. To receive holy communion unworthily is a sacrilege which can be avoided by going to confession. Confessions are available in every Catholic Church every week and when necessary by appointment.
It is important to prepare ourselves before receiving the Holy Eucharist. We must fast one hour before receiving the Holy Eucharist from all food and drink except for water to instill in our hearts a longing and desire of receiving Jesus and not become dulled in our awareness of the majesty and greatness of Our God who we are receiving in the Blessed Sacrament.
IT is especially important we attend holy mass by giving the proper reverence to the Blessed Sacrament by an act of reverence such as genuflecting towards the tabernacle or making a profound bow of the head to the King truly present within. When we enter the Church we are on Holy Ground.
WE should not have gum or any candy in our mouths during Mass as well as when we are receiving Holy Communion. So many times this has happened to me as a priest. We are receiving God.
When we receive Jesus it is important that we respond “Amen” to the words the Body of Christ. This Amen means, I believe. It is not optional. It is a sign of our faith and gratitude. If we receive in the hand our hands should be clean and washed. How many times as kids did mom say to us before dinner go wash your hands. In the same way we must not cover our hands with clothing or gloves. We also need to use two hands to receive the Holy Eucharist as the Church tells us with one over the other.
When we return to our place it is a time of thanksgiving, praise and share in the joy of union with Christ. The Mass is an extension of Calvary and it is important to remember that as Our Lady and ST. John and Mary Magdalen remained at the Foot of the Cross until the very end, so we too should remain in the Church until the final Blessing, when Holy Mass Concludes.
Hence, let us receive Holy Communion with fervent love and respect — not merely as a matter of routine. Our hearts should be filled with longing, joy, desire as we come forward to receive our Lord present.
St. John Paul II (1920 – 2005)
“The Eucharist is truly a glimpse of heaven appearing on earth. It is a glorious ray of the heavenly Jerusalem which pierces the clouds of our history and lights up our journey.” – Ecclesia de Eucharistia
I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament. There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth. J. R. R. Tolkien
Spend time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Read books or literature on the Eucharistic Miracles, and the words of the saints on the Blessed Sacrament. Read the catechism of the Church on the Eucharist or other writings on the Eucharist such as Fr. John Hardon, ST. John Vianney. We need to deepen our love and devotion to Jesus truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. The understanding of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist made present in the Holy Mass is often one of the motivating factors for a young man to follow the vocation to the priesthood. There is an inseparable connection to the Holy Eucharist and the priesthood which has drawn many to become priest.
Let us be renewed in Our Love, devotion and gratitude for the Most Blessed Sacrament in the Real presence of Christ who wants to fill us with his blessings, to give us strength, consolation and joy in his presence which is truly a foretaste of the joys of heaven. This is our faith. May we never be ashamed or embarrassed to profess Our love and faith in the Real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. We are like the shepherds at Bethlehem, O Come let us Adore Him! O Come let us Adore Him, Christ the Lord!