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Corpus Christi

Sunday, June 22, 2014
You learn something new every day. Researching for today’s post, I discovered that St Thomas Aquinas composed the Mass propers, such as the sequence Lauda Sion, office hymns like the Pange Lingua and other prayers of devotion for the Feast of Corpus Christi. Though traditionally celebrated as a memorial of Christ's Real Presence under the accidents of bread, the feast is now celebrated as Corpus et Sanguis Christi, uniting the once separate feast for the Precious Blood with that for Christ's body on the altar. The Body and Blood of Christ are inseparable, for Christ is present in body, blood, soul and divinity, equally under both forms of the Sacred Species. Today is a Solemnity, celebrated usually on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday but now often, as in England, transferred to the following Sunday. 

A major focus of Corpus Christi is Catholics going out into the streets carrying the source and focal point of our life, in procession, under a canopy. There is something quite mystical about the body and blood of Christ being present, as we cannot see this using our senses. Natural science would say we are mad, and what we think is empirically not possible. But when we process with the Body and Blood of Christ, we stand united. Akin to solidarity in the UNISON trade union advert that was played along to the track ‘one is the lonliest number’, the narrator tells us “You’ve got 1.3 million members behind you when you need them”. With the processions happening across the world on Corpus Christi, we have got the head of the body of the Church behind us, when we need him. We dare to process with Him through the streets and shopping areas of our cities, towns and villages, as we display our faith in what looks like a piece of bread - but what we know is the enduring presence of our God, who is with us unto the end of the world. It baffles the non-believer, but there we have it, our own advocate to God the Father of heaven and earth marches with us. Instead of trade union membership, we have the Faith. Instead of ballots for strike action, we have the Holy Mass, the sacraments of the Church and the intercession of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Many Christians find themselves in horrific situations, and are often unable to express their faith, their solidarity with the Lord. Let us give thanks that God has given us the liberty to praise him in our streets. We pray for those who are persecuted for the Faith, particularly the Dominicans and other Christians who remain in Iraq, who are unable to process through the streets for fear of violence or intimidation. For what is inside that monstrance in today's processions is a pledge and sign of our unity, a hope of the future when we shall all be one. 

Luke Doherty OP


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