Wednesday, 14 June 2017


A number of years ago I did a bit of exciting detective work.  In a stately home in the heart of England several stained glass windows show Dominicans,  holding a monstrance, containing the Blessed Sacrament. Among them there’s St. Thomas Aquinas, who is said to have composed the liturgy for today’s feast. Research has led me to conclude that the glass has probably come from our priory in Liege, Belgium, where that devotion originated. 

So, what’s this devotion all about, and why is it important?  Well, most of us come to Mass every Sunday, and many during the week.   Though that’s very good, there is the danger of our taking the Mass for granted.   So, today’s feast of Corpus Christi, or Body of Christ -should give us the chance to reflect on what may have become too routine. If familiarity doesn’t here breed contempt it can easily lead to complacency.  Hopefully, our celebration of Corpus Christi would renew and fire up our wonder and gratitude for the gift of the Mass.  

We believe that at every Mass Christ’s sacrifice of the cross is made present on the altar for the local community.   Our crucified and risen Lord continues to offer Himself to His Heavenly Father, as, on our behalf, He makes our peace with God.   And we are united with Christ in offering ourselves in loving service of God and each other.    The Mass should sum up and re-enforce our whole lives as generous givers, rather than selfish grabbers.

The feast of Corpus Christi reminds us that in the Eucharist Christ is present in a very special way, and gives Himself to us in the form of a meal.    We believe that the bread and wine are changed into Christ’s own Body and Blood.   This meal nourishes us so that we can grow as Christians.   We call this meal, ‘Holy Communion.’   Our personal communion with God and our fellow members within the Church is expressed and strengthened by our sharing the one Body and Blood of Christ.
We can understand the meaning of communion if we think of how we celebrate special occasions with a meal.  We enjoy good food and drink together, but more than that, we’re nourished by each other’s company and conversation. Such special meals draw us closer to each other. And that’s what should happen at Mass.   We’re nourished by the very best of food and drink –Christ’s own Body and Blood.   And we’re nourished by His company and conversation, as He speaks to us through the Scriptures, the Creed and hopefully the sermon.   The sacred Eucharistic Meal should draw us closer to Christ and each other.  

The Blessed Sacrament, consecrated at Mass, is reserved in the Tabernacle.   This is firstly so that Holy Communion can be taken to the sick who can’t get to Mass.   That means that Jesus can not only be brought to them to nourish them in a special way, but Jesus in the Sacrament itself keeps them in union with the community’s celebration of Mass.   The Blessed Sacrament is also reserved in the Tabernacle so that we can drop into church, to worship Jesus who is there present amongst us in the Eucharist.  As we pray before the Blessed Sacrament we have time to deepen our understanding and devotion for the Mass itself and to take part in future Masses with greater reverence.  In other words, Eucharistic devotion outside Mass is always linked to the Mass itself.   That’s very true of Benediction and Corpus Christi processions.

Corpus Christi is a wonderful, joyful feast.  It’s not surprising the Mass should be called the ‘Eucharist,’ which means, ‘Thanksgiving.’   Today, above all others, we should be filled with gratitude for the gift of the Mass! 

Isidore O.P.

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