It goes without saying that the focus of the Church is ALWAYS on our appreciation of and respect for the Eucharist. However, there are two celebrations of the Church’s year that raise up before us in a very special way our appreciation and understanding of the Eucharist.
The first is at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, which takes place on Holy Thursday, and the second is the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ or Corpus Christi.
Here in the United States the Feast of Corpus Christi is celebrated on the Sunday after the celebration of the Most Holy Trinity. This year on the Feast of Corpus Christi, we initiate our time of Eucharistic Revival. Therefore, at this time I want to share a few thoughts about the Eucharist and the Feast of Corpus Christi.
In focusing us in a special way on the Eucharist, the Feast of Corpus Christi invites us to remember that in the celebration of Mass we express our faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, which means that we believe that Jesus is really present in the consecrated bread and wine.
“In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really and substantially contained” (“Catechism of the Catholic Church,” no. 1374). By respectfully bowing or genuflecting at the time of reception of the Eucharist, we show our admiration and appreciation for the Lord present in the Eucharist.
However, our respect for the Eucharist is not something that is restricted to the celebration of Mass alone. The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers to the Blessed Sacrament “adoration, not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving the consecrated hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful and carrying them in procession” (“Catechism of the Catholic Church,” no. 1378).
In addition to eucharistic adoration outside of Mass, the church also states that to carry the Eucharist in procession is a way to venerate the Lord in the Eucharist. In support of this, there is the wonderful tradition in the Church of undertaking a eucharistic procession on the feast of Corpus Christi.
I am happy to announce that on Sunday, June 19, following the noon Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption, a Corpus Christi procession with the Blessed Sacrament will proceed through several blocks of downtown Louisville. This will be followed by a time for adoration and prayer in the Cathedral and will conclude with Benediction at 3 p.m. and an ice cream reception. All are invited to attend.
In addition to our belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, there are at least two additional faith understandings that I personally think are expressed by a Corpus Christi procession.
The first is that a Corpus Christi procession expresses our willingness to follow after the Lord as we make our way through life. Life today can be challenging and difficult. The significant decisions that we have to make can be complex and complicated. As we follow in procession behind our Eucharistic Lord, it is a clear indication that we are willing to follow our Lord Jesus Christ in every aspect of our lives. If we allow him, Jesus Christ will lead us through the storms of life as we follow Him.
The second understanding of the Eucharist that a Corpus Christi procession indicates is our desire as disciples of Jesus Christ to bring Jesus Christ to the entire world. We are called to live the reality of the Eucharist when we leave the celebration of Mass, which means that because we have received the Lord in the Eucharist, we are to bring his loving presence to others by way of our words and actions. A Corpus Christi procession is an outward indication of our understanding that we are to bring the presence of Jesus to all places beyond the walls of the church: into our homes and schools, into our workplace and the marketplace and indeed into the streets and all places where we go each and every day.
In a Corpus Christi procession, we literally take the presence of Jesus Christ beyond the church walls, indicating our desire to bring him to the world.
Please consider joining us for the Corpus Christi Procession as we follow after the Lord and bring him to others.
It goes without saying that June is dedicated to fathers! I wish a HAPPY FATHERS’ DAY to all who are fathers or are like fathers to others. We pray that through the intercession of St. Joseph, foster father of our Lord Jesus Christ and patron saint of all fathers, God will bestow abundant grace and blessings on all fathers. Grace and peace to you!