Hello parish family!
What a joy to be able to celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi together this Sunday. Corpus Christi isn’t just a town in Texas, but a beautiful feast where we celebrate the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. The name for this feast, Corpus Christi, is “Body of Christ,” in Latin. The celebration of this feast has been going on in the Church since the 13th century!
The belief in Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist goes all the way back to the Last Supper, where Jesus declared, “This is my body” and “this is my blood.” As Catholics, we take Jesus at His word and truly believe that He is fully present to us under the appearance of bread and wine at Mass. If you have some difficulty accepting this, you are not alone. In fact, the feast of Corpus Christi came about during a time when even some priests in the Catholic Church were doubting the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
One of these priests, Fr. Peter of Prague, was celebrating Mass in Bolsena, Italy in the year 1263. He was having difficulty accepting the teaching on the Real Presence. As he said the words of consecration over the bread, real blood began to seep out of it and dripped on the corporal (a cloth used to catch pieces of the host on the altar). Jesus used this dramatic Eucharistic miracle to renew Fr Peter’s faith and not only his, but that of many others. Pope Urban IV heard of the miracle and took it as a sign that there needed to be a new feast instituted in the Church to celebrate Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist. So, a year later, he celebrated the feast for the first time in a town called Orvieto, which is close to Bolsena.
As a seminarian, I had the great privilege of traveling to Rome around the new year in 2014 and was able to visit the town of Orvieto. In the beautiful Catholic church there, we were able to see the bloodstained corporal which helped renew the faith of Fr. Peter all those years ago. It is still on display today. We can be confident that Jesus is still with us today in the Eucharist. Thank God for the Feast of Corpus Christi, which reminds us of His enduring Presence with us in the Eucharist!
A beautiful way to sustain our faith in Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist is through Adoration. We can do adoration at any time just by stopping into the Church and praying by the tabernacle. This is a great way to build our love for Jesus in the Eucharist. A special form of Eucharistic Adoration is called ‘Exposition.’ This is an opportunity for us to extend the moment in Mass where the priest raises the Host, which is now Jesus’ Precious Body, for people to adore. With Exposition, we have the opportunity not only to look at Jesus, but truly to allow Him to look back at us. We do this by putting the Precious Body in a golden sunburst-style stand called a monstrance on the altar. This gives people the extended opportunity to not only pray with Jesus in the Eucharist, but also look at Him. It is a powerful moment!
We have several opportunities every week to experience Adoration with Exposition. Firstly, we have a weekly Holy Hour on Wednesday night from 6 to 7 pm. This is a great opportunity for silent prayer and to go to Confession, as Confession is offered during that time. We pray Evening Prayer together at the beginning of the Wednesday evening Holy Hour, which is a way to join in the official prayer of the Church that all priests and religious brothers and sisters pray throughout the world. The second opportunity to join in Adoration with Exposition is from 7:30 to 8:00 am Monday through Saturday in the church. What better way to start your day than a little quiet time with Jesus in the Eucharist?
Happy Corpus Christi and I hope to see you at Adoration!