St. John Henry Newman, in his Sermon Notes for the Sunday within the Octave of Corpus Christi (May 25, 1856), expressed the following eminently Catholic sentiments, which we would do well to adopt and internalise once again as our own:
There is no feast, no season in the whole year which is so intimately connected with our religious life, or shows more wonderfully what Christianity is, as that which we are now celebrating [viz., Corpus Christi]…. The world is in wickedness. Satan is god of the world; unbelief rules. Now this opposition to us has a tendency to weigh us down, to dispirit us, to dull our apprehensions.… Now observe, How almighty love and wisdom has met this. He has met this by living among us with a continual presence. He is not past, He is present now. And though He is not seen, He is here. The same God who walked the water, who did miracles, etc., is in the Tabernacle. We come before Him, we speak to Him just as He was spoken to 1800 years ago, etc. Nay, further, He [does] not [merely] present Himself before us as the object of worship, but God actually gives Himself to us to be received into our breasts. Wonderful communion. This [is] how He counteracts time and the world. It [the Blessed Sacrament] is not past, it is not away. It is this that makes devotion in lives. It is the life of our religion. We are brought into the unseen world.
These beguiling words go straight to the heart. Although Corpus Christi festivities and processions are still publicly celebrated in many places, all too often they have become much reduced in size and even in fervour since the 70s or 80s, or the organizers are obliged by law to limit them to the Church’s private property.
We have compiled a small selection of old photos taken on the Feast of Corpus Christi from different countries in the western world. They demonstrate unashamedly the enormous love, devotion and reverence Catholics have always held for the Blessed Sacrament.
Video of Corpus Christi procession in 1924 at St Mary’s College in Galway
The annual feast of Corpus Christi was a huge event in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, from 1924 until 1971. In this very Catholic area of England thousands of Catholics took part in the procession.
The Los Angeles Weekly Star of June 5, 1858 carried a rapturous story on the Corpus Christi proceedings of that year in the Old Plaza. It used to take place every year.
And finally, a hymn for this great feast:
Beautiful. Thanks for posting, I remember. beautiful processions growing up
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Ahhh, the good old days….