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Effective Celebration of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi

This Sunday, June 6, 2021, Catholics all over the world will be celebrating the Feast of Corpus Christi or Body of Christ.

The Feast is celebrated in the Latin Church to solemnly commemorate the institution of the Holy Eucharist.

The solemnity of Corpus Christi was introduced so that the faithful would not lose sight of the full import of the institution of the Holy Eucharist. The Feast was instituted on the account of the greatness of the mystery; the unbelief of those who denied the truth of the mystery of the Holy Eucharist and the revelation made to some pious persons.

Pope Urban IV on September 8, 1264 published the Papal Bull Transiturus, establishing the annual celebration of Corpus Christi on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday and at the same time granting indulgence to the faithful for attendance at the celebration.

Corpus Christi became a mandatory Feast in the Church in 1312. The Prayers O Salutaris Hostia, Tautum Ergo and others were composed by St. Thomas Aquinas at the request of Pope Urban IV. Successive Popes, Clement V, John XXII took the matter in hand and urged the observance of the Feast.

The procession on Corpus Christi Feast to honour the Holy Eucharist, were not mentioned in the Decree but had become a principal feature of the feast’s celebration by the faithful.
In 1317, Pope John XXII instituted the solemn processions and was endowed with indulgence by Popes Martin V and Eugene IV.

The Corpus Christi processions are:
• Public profession of our faith that Christ is really, truly and substantially present in the Blessed Sacrament.

  • Public reparation of all injuries reverence and offences, which have been and are committed by impious men and women against Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
  • For the solemn veneration and adoration due to the son in the sacrament.
  • In thanksgiving for its institution and for all the graces and advantages received.
  • To draw down the Divine blessing upon the people and the country.
    Jesus is the Eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek whose origins are not known and whose end is also not known (Jesus is eternal) Heb. 7: 17. In the same way since Jesus is Divine it means the altar is also not by human hands but Divine and so also is the lamb of sacrifice. This is how effective the covenant is.

This is what we celebrate as Catholics every day when we come for Mass. Our faith teaches us that Jesus is the one and only High Priest and all Priests share in his ministry. Therefore, all Priests in the celebration of the Sacraments act “in persona Christi”; they act in the person of Christ.

In the Mass, it is Jesus himself who acts and not the person of the Priest. In the Mass, Jesus is the Altar of sacrifice and the bread which will be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit is Jesus himself.

When we celebrate the Mass, we fulfill the injunction of Jesus who asked that what he has done be done in memorial of him. In the same way Paul reminds the people of Corinth (11:23) that he received a tradition from the Lord even though he was not part of the twelve at the last supper. This tradition is what we continue to perpetuate in the Mass.

Sadly, there is a growing number of Catholics who seem not to appreciate the Mass and its sacrificial effect. Some do not even come for Mass on Sunday but societal meetings. Some do not appreciate what they miss when they do not partake in the Eucharist. In the Mass, it is Jesus himself who leads us in worship and offers us his body and blood. What sacrifice is more effective and acceptable than this?

As we mark Corpus Christi this Sunday, let us reflect on the teaching on the Eucharist in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood.

This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet ‘in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.” (CCC 1323)



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