Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
The month of June is dedicated to increased devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Let us ask the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph to teach us to love and console the Sacred Heart of Jesus!
This Sunday we celebrate Solemnity of the Corpus Christi! May each of us always be ready to praise Jesus, Truly Present in the Holy Eucharist! This week I share with you a meditation on the feast of Corpus Christi. I encourage you to reflect over this message a few times this week:
“The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ: This Solemnity goes back to the thirteenth century. It was first established in the diocese of Liege, and Pope Urban IV instituted it in 1264 for the whole Church. The meaning of this feast is the consideration of and devotion to the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The center of the feast was to be, as Pope Urban IV described it, a popular devotion reflected in hymns and joy. In the same year Saint Thomas Aquinas, at the Pope’s request, composed for this day two Offices which have nourished the piety of many Christians throughout the centuries. In many different places the procession with the Monstrance through specially bedecked streets gives testimony of the Christian people’s faith and love for Christ, Who once again passes through our cities and towns. The pro-cession began in the same way as the feast itself.
In places where the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood is not observed as a holyday of obligation, it is kept on the Sunday after the Most Holy Trinity as its proper day.
Love and Veneration for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament: Lauda, Sion, Salvatorem… Sing forth, O Zion, sweetly sing, the praises of thy Shepherd-King, in hymns and canticles Divine. (Sequence, Lauda, Si-on, Salvatorem)
Today we celebrate this great Solemnity in honor of the mystery of the Holy Eucharist. On this day the liturgy itself and popular piety, which have spared no efforts in their search for inventiveness and beauty, come together to sing to the Love of Loves. For this day St. Thomas Aquinas composed those very beautiful texts of the Holy Mass and of the Divine Office. Today we must give many thanks to God for having remained amongst us, make atonement to Him and express to Him our joy at having Him so close to us: Adoro te devote, latens Deitas… O Godhead hid, devoutly I adore Thee, we will repeat to Him many times this day from the very depths of our hearts.
When we visit the Blessed Sacrament we will be able to say slowly to Our Lord, with love: Plagas, sicut Thomas, non intueor… I do not see Your wounds as Thomas saw them, but I confess that You are my God. Make me believe Thee ever more and more, in Thee my Hope, in Thee my Love to store.
It was Faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist that led to devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament outside of Holy Mass as well. In the first centuries of the Church the Sacred Species were reserved so that Communion could be taken to the sick and to those who were in prison awaiting martyrdom because they had confessed their Faith. As time went by, the Faith and Love of believers caused them to make both public and private devotion to the Holy Eucharist far richer. Their Faith led them to treat the Body of Christ with the greatest possible reverence and this also led to greater public devotion.
We can find many testimonies in the most ancient documents of the Church to the veneration by the early Christians which later was to make way for the feast we celebrate today.
Our Lord and our God is in the Tabernacle. Christ is in the Tabernacle, and it is there that we must show Him our Adoration and our Love. This veneration for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is expressed in many ways - Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, processions, pray-er before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, genuflections that are real acts of Faith and of Adoration… Amongst these devotions and various forms of worship, particularly worthy of mention is the solemnity of Corpus Christi as a public act by which the Church seeks to pay homage to Christ present in the Eucharist… The Church and the world have great need of Eucharistic devotions. Jesus is waiting for us in this Sacrament of Love. Let us not be sparing in the time we spend going to meet Him in Adoration, in contemplation filled with Faith, and let us be prepared to make reparation for the many grave faults and offenses committed against Him in the world. May our Adoration never cease. (St. John Paul II, Letter, Dominicae Cenae, 24 February 1980) Today especially has to be filled with acts of Faith and of Love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
If we take part in the day’s procession, accompanying Jesus, we will be like those simple people who joyfully followed the Master during the days of His life on earth, and who with great naturalness told Him of all their needs and about the sufferings they endured. We too will experience the happiness and the joy of being with Him. If we see Him pass through our streets exposed in the Monstrance, we will tell Him from the depths of our hearts how much He means to us… Adore Him reverently and devoutly; renew in His presence the sincere offerings of your Love. Don’t be afraid to tell Him that you Love Him. Thank Him for giving you this daily proof of His tender Mercy, and encourage yourself to go to Communion in a spirit of trust. I am awed by this mystery of Love. Here is the Lord seeking to use my heart as a throne, committed never to leave me, provided I don’t run away. (St. J. Escriva, Christ Is Passing By, 161) Jesus is happier on this throne of my heart than in the most magnificent Monstrance.
Food for eternal life: As the words of the Entrance Antiphon re-mind us: He has fed them with the finest wheat, and given them their fill of honey from the rock. (Entrance Antiphon: Ps. 80:17)
For many years God fed manna to the people of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness. This was an image and symbol of the pilgrim Church and of each individual who journeys towards his or her definitive homeland - Heaven. That food given in the desert of Sinai is a figure of the True Food, the Holy Eucharist. This is the Sacrament of the human pilgrimage… Precisely because of this, the annual feast of the Eucharist that the Church celebrates today contains within its liturgy so many references to the pilgrimage of the people of the Covenant in their wanderings through the wilderness. (St. John Paul II, Homily, 4 June 1988) Moses often reminded the Israelites of this wonderful deed that God had performed for His People: Do not then forget the Lord your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. (cf. Deut. 8:2-3; 14-16)
Today is a day of thanksgiving and of joy because God has wanted to remain with us in order to feed us and to strengthen us, so that we may never feel alone. The Holy Eucharist is the viaticum, the food for the long journey of our days on Earth towards the goal of true Life. Jesus accompanies us and strengthens us here in this world, where our life is like a shadow compared to the reality that awaits us. Earthly food is a pale image of the Food we receive in Holy Communion. The Holy Eucharis opens up our hearts to a completely new reality. (cf. Luke 9:11-17)
Although we celebrate this feast only once a year, the Church really proclaims this most happy Truth every day: Jesus gives Himself to us daily as our Food, and He remains in our Tabernacles to be for us the Strength and the Hope of a new Life, a Life without end and without limit. It is a mystery which is ever alive and ever new.
Thank you, Lord, for remaining with us. What would have become of us without You? Where would we have gone to restore our strength and to ask for consolation? From the Tabernacle how easy You make the way for us!
The Corpus Christi Procession: One day, as Jesus was leaving the city of Jericho to continue His journey towards Jerusalem, He passed by a blind man who was begging for alms at the side of the road. When he heard the sound of the little crowd that was following the Master, he asked what it meant. The people around him answered: Jesus of Nazareth is passing by. (Luke 18:37)
If today, in the many cities and towns where this ancient custom of carrying the Blessed Sacrament in procession is still observed, someone was to ask when he hears the noise of the crowd, ‘What is it? What is happening?’, we could answer him with the same words with which they answered Bartimaeus: Jesus of Nazareth is passing by. It is Christ Himself Who walks through our streets receiving the homage of our faith and of our love. It is Christ Himself! And like the heart of Bartimaeus, our hearts too should burst into shouts: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! And Our Lord,
Who went about blessing and doing good (cf. Acts 10:38), will have compassion on our blindness and on all the ills that sometimes lie heavy on our soul. The Church, by means of the feast we are celebrating today with an exuberance of Faith and of Love, desires only to dispel the mysterious silence that surrounds the Eucharist, and to emit a triumphant cry that bursts out through the walls of sanctuaries and overwhelms the streets of cities so as to infuse the whole human community with Joy at the presence of Christ, of Him Who is the silent and strong Companion of pilgrim man along the paths of time and of earth. (St. Paul VI, Homily, 11 August 1964) This is it that fills our hearts with Joy. It is logical, especially on this day, that the hymns that accompany the Blessed Sacrament should be hymns of Adoration, of Love, and of profound Joy.
Let us sing to the Love of Loves, let us sing to the Lord: Behold our God is here; O come, let us adore Christ our Redeemer… Pange lingua gloriosi… Sing, my tongue the Savior’s glory, of His Flesh the mystery sing… The solemn procession that takes place in so many towns and cities of Christian tradition is of very ancient origin and is the expression with which Christian people give public testimony of their piety towards the Blessed Sacrament. (cf. J. Abad and M. Garrido, Initiation into the Liturgy of the Church, Madrid 1988) On this day Our Lord takes possession of our streets and town squares. It is piety that leads the faithful to cover the streets with carpets of flowers and green boughs. Magnificent monstrances have been designed for this feast. The closer their decorations are to the consecrated Host the richer and more intricate they are.
Today many Christians will accompany our Lord in procession as He comes to meet those who want to see Him and to make Himself available to those who are not looking for Him. And so once more He comes among His own people. How should we respond to this call of His?
The Corpus Christi procession makes Christ present in towns and cities throughout the world. But His presence cannot be limited to only one day, like a sound you hear and then forget. It should remind us that we have to discover Our Lord in our ordinary everyday activities. Side by side with this solemn procession there is the simple, silent procession of the ordinary life of each Christian. He is a man among men, who by a great blessing has received the Faith and the Divine Commission to act so that he renews the message of Our Lord on earth…
Let us ask Our Lord, then, to make us souls devoted to the Blessed Eucharist, so that our relationship with Him brings forth Joy and Serenity and a desire for Justice. In this way will we make it easier for others to recognize Christ; we will put Christ at the center of all human activities. And Jesus’ promise will be fulfilled: ‘I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all man to Myself’ (John 12:32). (St. J. Escriva, Christ Is Passing By, 156)” (From In Conversation with God, by Francis Fernandez)
Through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of the Eucharist, St. Joseph, St. Michael and St. Paul, may God grant us the Grace to Love the True Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist!
In Christ through Mary,