The Feast of Corpus Christi is over for another year, yet the awe and wonder of the Lord of all Creation being transformed by His ordained priests from humble bread and wine into the Body and Blood of His Only Begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, through the miracle of the Consecration at Holy Mass, should always be present in our hearts. In this Holy Sacrament that Our Lord established during His earthly life through His Apostles, we His beloved ‘children’, may be nourished and strengthened and transformed. “As the Father hath loved me, I also have loved you. Abide in my love” (John 15:9).
From the old ‘Saint Andrew Daily Missal’ comes this deeply insightful explanation of the readings for the great feast of Corpus Christi:
After the dogma of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit reminds us of the dogma of the Incarnation of Our Lord, in celebrating with the Church the greatest of all sacraments, summing up the whole life of the Redeemer, giving infinite glory to God, and applying the fruits of the Redemption at all times to ourselves.
It was on the cross that Our Lord redeemed us and the Holy Eucharist, instituted on the night before Our Lord’s Passion, remains its memorial. The altar is the extension of Calvary; the Mass “shows the death of the Lord” (1 Cor. xi. 23-29).
Jesus is there in the state of a victim, for the words of the double consecration mean only that the bread is changed into the Body of Christ and the wine into His Blood. On the account of this double action with different effects, which constitutes the sacrifice of the Mass, we are entitled to speak of Our Lord’s Presence under the appearance of bread as that of the Body of Christ, although since He can die no more, the whole Church is there contained; similarly we may speak of the Presence under the appearance of wine as that of His Blood, although He is contained there whole and entire. Through His priests, Our Lord Himself, the principal Priest of the Mass, offers in an unbloody manner His Body and Blood which were really separated on the Cross, but on the altar only in a representative or sacramental sense, the matter and words used and the effect produced being different in the two consecrations. Besides, the Eucharist was instituted under the form of food (Alleluia), that we may be united with the Victim of Calvary, so that the Sacred Host becomes the “wheat” which feeds our souls.
Moreover, Christ, as the Son of God, receives the eternal life of the Father; in the same way Christians share in that eternal life by uniting themselves to Christ through the Sacrament which is the symbol of unity, and this possession of the divine life, already realised on earth through the Eucharist, is the pledge and the beginning of that in which we shall fully rejoice in Heaven. As the Council of Trent puts it: “That same Heavenly Bread that we eat now under the sacred veils, we shall feed upon in Heaven without veil.”
We should regard the Mass as the centre of all Eucharistic worship, seeing in Holy Communion the means instituted by Our Lord to enable us to share more fully in this Divine Sacrifice. In this way our devotion to Our Lord’s Body and Blood will effectively obtain for us the fruits of His Redemption.
Concerning the procession which regularly should follow the Mass, we remember how the Israelites revered the Ark of the Covenant which was the Presence of God among them. When they carried on their victorious marches, the Ark went before, born by the Levites in the midst of a cloud of incense, accompanied by the sound of musical instruments and of the songs and shouts of the multitude.
We Christians (Catholics and Orthodox) have a treasure far more precious, for in the Eucharist we possess God Himself. Let us feel a holy pride in forming His escort and extolling His triumphs, while He is in our midst.
Antiphon at the Magnificat: “How sweet, O Lord, is Thy Spirit who, to show Thy sweetness to Thy sons send them from heaven a most sweet bread, filling the hungry with good things and sending the rich away empty.”