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Why do Catholics celebrate Corpus Christi?

The Catholic Church honors Christ’s Presence in the Holy Eucharist with a special feast owing to St. Juliana of Liège, a 13th-century Norbertine canoness from Belgium. She had a great love for the Eucharist. When she was 16, she had a vision in which the Church was a full moon with a dark spot. The dark spot signified that the Church was missing a feast dedicated solely to the Body and Blood of Christ. Even though she had this vision several times, St. Juliana didn’t think that she could do anything to help institute this feast. Therefore, she kept it a secret for many years. Once she was elected prioress, she finally told her confessor, who in turn told the bishop. This eventually led to the universal feast of Corpus Christi.

What does Corpus Christi mean?

The Latin words “Corpus Christi” translate to “Body of Christ.”

Why is the Solemnity of Corpus Christi important?

The Eucharist is the “source and summit of the Christian life” (Second Vatican Council, Lumen gentium, no. 11). In the Eucharist, Jesus Himself re-presents for our benefit His Sacrifice on Calvary (Luke 22:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:26-29), gives Himself to us in Holy Communion (Exodus 16:4, 35; John 6:1-14, 48-51), and remains among us until the end of the age (Luke 24:13-35; Mt. 28:18-20). He comes to us in this humble form, making Himself vulnerable, out of love for each one of us. Yet, as God Himself, the Body and Blood of Christ deserves our utmost respect and love, as well as our adoration.
St. Thomas Aquinas, Hymn “Tantum Ergo”

Down in adoration falling, Lo! the sacred Host we hail; Lo! o'er ancient forms departing, Newer rites of grace prevail; Faith for all defects supplying, Where the feeble senses fail.

St. Francis of Assisi said, "...In this world I cannot see the Most High Son of God with my own eyes, except for His Most Holy Body and Blood."

“Every year the feast of Corpus Christi invites us to renew the wonder and joy for this wonderful gift of the Lord, which is the Eucharist.” - Pope Francis

When is the Solemnity of Corpus Christi?

The traditional date for Corpus Christi is the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, itself the Sunday after Pentecost. Thursday was chosen because it was the day on which the Last Supper was celebrated. Many ecclesiastical provinces (e.g. United States), however, celebrate it on the following Sunday, so that more people can attend. Where it occurs on Thursday, it is a Holy Day of Obligation, that is, Catholics must participate in the Mass.

What is the Corpus Christi procession?

Whenever the Eucharist is exposed for adoration of the people, it is placed in a sacred vessel called a Monstrance, whose clear glass permits the viewing of the Sacred Host. Such Exposition can take several forms, on the altar in a parish, for adoration and prayer, public devotions such as Eucharistic Benediction, and public processions on Corpus Christi, or at other times. In Catholic countries such processions often go throughout the city. The faithful usually sing and pray, all in honor of our Eucharistic King. This practice began in the 14th-century, and it has been promoted by popes, councils, and saints as a wonderful way to show the supreme importance of the Eucharist and the love that we have for Him.

Adoration

“Gaze upon Him, consider Him, contemplate Him, as you desire to imitate Him.” – St. Clare of Assisi
Live Adoration is available online from the EWTN chapel and from the Tyburn Convent in the United Kingdom.

What is the Holy Eucharist?

The Holy Eucharist is the greatest of the seven sacraments. The Catholic Church teaches that in the Eucharist, Our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true man, is really, truly, and substantially, present under the appearances of bread and wine. Our Lord is not merely symbolized by the bread and wine; nor is he present only through the faith of those present. Rather, the two material things, bread and wine, are completely changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, leaving behind only their sensible appearances. Thus, through the words of consecration spoken by the priest, Jesus, without ceasing to be present in a natural way in heaven, is also present sacramentally, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, wherever the consecrated elements are present.

Is the Eucharist biblical?

The Eucharist is discussed many times in Sacred Scripture in its root meaning “to give thanks” (Ps. 9:1, Is. 12:1,4; Col. 3:17; 1 Thess. 5:18). Giving thanks, or blessing God, was the essential element of the prayers of temple, synagogue, and daily life for Israel. There are many instances, as well, in the Old Testament where the Eucharist is foreshadowed even in its sacramental forms, such as Melchizedek’s offering of bread and wine (Genesis 14:18–20), the Passover (Ex. 12:1-14), and the manna which sustained Israel until it could enter into the Promised Land (Ex. 16:13-17).

Christ likewise always gave thanks to His Father for His good gifts. This is recorded especially in contexts where He anticipated the forms of new covenant worship. These include the wedding feast of Cana (John 2), changing water into wine, the two multiplication of loaves miracles (Mt. 14:13-21; Mt. 15:32-39), multiplying substance to satisfy the needs of all, and His explanation of the Eucharist in the Bread of Life Discourse (John 6).

Finally, at the Last Supper He instituted the Eucharist, as the normative way of commemorating His Paschal Sacrifice on Calvary, commanding that we do this until He comes again (cf. 1 Cor. 11) .

“This is the wonderful truth, my dear friends: the Word, which became flesh two thousand years ago, is present today in the Eucharist.” – St. John Paul II
“I live because of the Eucharist.” – Mother Angelica

What does “Eucharist” mean literally?

“It is called Eucharist, because it is an action of thanksgiving to God. The Greek words ‘eucharistein’ and ‘eulogein’ recall the Jewish blessings that proclaim - especially during a meal - God's works: creation, redemption, and sanctification.” (CCC 1328)

What happens when we receive Holy Communion?

In Holy Communion, by obeying Jesus' command to eat His Flesh and drink His Blood, the faithful are personally united with Jesus Himself. It is fitting that we don’t receive just a mystical Jesus, a spiritual Jesus, much less a metaphorical or symbolic Jesus. Jesus took our human nature (body and soul) at the Incarnation, His Body was nailed to the Cross and His Blood poured out in His death, and on Easter He rose with His Body and Soul. He continues to give us salvation and grace, immediately and directly through His Incarnate Sacred Body and Blood, just as He saved us, and just as He promised in John chapter 6.

Is Jesus present in the Eucharist?

From the earliest days of the Church Christians have believed that Christ was present in the Eucharist, but they did so without theory or explanation. St. Paul simply admonished the Corinthians against sacrilegious reception (1 Cor. 11), but about 160 AD St. Justin wrote the first effort at an explanation, in his Apologia to Emperor Antoninus Pius.

For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.

In the Middle Ages the character of this change was explored and systematically developed by theologians, especially St. Thomas Aquinas. Thus, the Council of Trent taught against the theories of some of the Reformers, that Christ is really, truly, and substantially present.

His Presence is real, because it has “real being.” This philosophical term conveys that it has actual existence, and not just mental existence (as a fictional creature, or a concept of a thing would).

His Presence is true. Truth refers to an accurate statement of a reality. The Blessed Sacrament is called Christ because it is Christ. It is not simply a symbol, as a flag is the symbol of a nation, or as a photograph is a representation of the individual shown.

Finally, His Presence is substantial. Even though our senses detect the appearances or properties of bread and wine, the substance is Christ, Who is wholly present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, under each element, and any parts of them.

Videos on Corpus Christi

What happened during the Eucharistic miracle in Lanciano?

In the 8th-century, a Basilian priest was celebrating Mass in Lanciano, Italy. As he was at the altar, he doubted that Jesus was truly present in the Eucharist. When he said the words of consecration, the Eucharist transformed in front of his eyes. The Host visibly turned into Flesh, and the Consecrated Wine into Blood, which later coagulated into five globules.

In the 1970s and 1980s, scientists studied the Flesh and Blood and discovered that the flesh was human cardiac tissue. The blood type is AB, which is the same as the Shroud of Turin. The Precious Blood had the same protein proportion as normal blood, and there are no preservatives, whereas upon death blood immediately begins to corrupt.

What is spiritual communion?

St. Thomas Aquinas explained that Spiritual Communion is “an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Holy Sacrament and a loving embrace as though we had already received Him.” This is an example:

My Jesus,
I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there
and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.

"God dwells in our midst, in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar." - St. Maximilian Kolbe

What Is the Most Blessed Sacrament?

This is another name for the Eucharist, bringing to mind Its primacy among the sacraments. “We speak of the Most Blessed Sacrament because it is the Sacrament of sacraments.” (CCC 1340)

What is Eucharistic Adoration?

Adoration is the act of adoring Our Lord, present in the Most Holy Eucharist. Often, parishes will have perpetual adoration or set times each month when the faithful can adore the Eucharist. People will frequently spend an hour with Jesus. This is known as a “Holy Hour.”

St. Therese of Lisieux said, “It is not to remain in a golden ciborium that He comes down each day from Heaven, but to find another Heaven, the Heaven of our soul in which He takes delight.”

Why should we make a Holy Hour?

"The Church and the world have a great need for Eucharistic worship. Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go to meet him in adoration, in contemplation full of faith, and open to making amends for the serious offenses and crimes of the world. Let our adoration never cease." (CCC, 1380)

What do you pray during Eucharistic Adoration?

There are no set prayers that you must pray during Adoration. You could pray your personal prayers or traditional prayers of the Church, such as the Holy Rosary. You could also read Sacred Scripture or another devotional book, or even spend your time in silence with the Lord.