Friday, June 8, 2012

The Feast of Corpus Christi

Yesterday, June 7, was the Feast Day of Corpus Christi in the Traditional Calendar.  This is the Feast of the Body of Christ, a day that we celebrate the Eucharist, which is Christ with us under the appearance of bread and wine.  This Feast celebrates the institution of the Eucharist, which is marked on Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday.  Because Maundy Thursday is during Holy Week, which commemorates the Crucifixion of our Lord, we do not celebrate it as such because Holy Week is a season of sadness and our minds are more occupied with the actual passion of our Lord. Corpus Christi was celebrated for many hundreds of years (close to 1000) on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday.  But the Novus Ordo calendar has moved it to the Sunday after Trinity Sunday, which I feel tends to obscure it.  However, Corpus Christi is still celebrated in the Traditional Calendar on its original day, Thursday after Trinity Sunday.

I think the celebration of Corpus Christi is more important than it has ever been. We as a Church and the entire world need the Blessed Sacrament more than ever, and yet it is precisely in this time that fewer and fewer people recognize the significance of this great gift from our Lord, or even worse, don't even believe in it.  In October 2011, USA Today reported on a very troubling survey done by  Catholic University sociologist William D'Antonio.  This survey showed the alarming lack of belief among Catholics.  According to the article:
I am the Bread of Life

The survey, a comprehensive look at the beliefs and practices of 1,442 U.S. Catholic adults, also finds that 86% say "you can disagree with aspects of church teachings and still remain loyal to the church." Only about 30% support the "teaching authority claimed by the Vatican."

And 40% say you can be a good Catholic without believing that in Mass, the bread and wine really become the body and blood of Christ — a core doctrine of Catholicism.

That could reflect the decline in Mass attendance. The survey finds it's fallen from 44% attending at least once a week in 1987 to 31% in 2011, while those who attend less than monthly rose from 26% to 47%.

When asked why they don't go to Mass more often, 40% say they are simply not very religious.
The Catholics Church is experiencing a deep crisis of the faith.  Far too many Catholics in our contemporary world discount the importance of the Real Presence and its vital and unequaled meaning and significance in our lives.   And as Catholics lose their faith, the world spins further and further into an evil morass. 

I want to share the reading from the Traditional Breviary from St. Thomas Aquinas, in which this great saint explains the significance of the Holy Eucharist and why it is so vital in our lives and in our salvation.

The Lesson is taken from a Sermon by St. Thomas Aquinas

Among the immeasurable benefits, which the goodness of God hath bestowed on the Christian people, is a dignity beyond all price. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is unto us? The only-begotten Son of God was pleased to make us partakers of his divine nature ; that is, he took our nature upon him, being himself made man that he might, as it were, make men into gods. And this body, which he took from us, he gave wholly unto our salvation. For, on the Altar of the Cross, he offered up his body to God the Father, as a sacrifice for our reconciliation, and thereon he shed his own blood for our redemption ; that is, his blood is the price whereby he redeemeth us from wretchedness and bondage, and the washing whereby he cleanseth us from all sin. And for a noble and abiding Memórial of this his so great work of goodness, he hath left unto his faithful ones the same his very Body for Meat, and the same his very Blood for Drink, with which we are fed under the forms of Bread and Wine.

O how precious a thing then, how marvellous, how health-giving, yielding royal dainties, is the Supper of the Lord. Than this Supper can anything be more precious? Therein there is put before us for meat, not as of old time, the flesh of bulls and of goats, but Christ himself, our very God. Than this Sacrament can anything be more marvellous? Therein it is that Bread and Wine become unto us the very Body and Blood of Christ ; that is to say, perfect God and perfect Man, Christ himself, is there under the veils of a little bread and wine. His faithful ones eat him, but he is not mangled ; nay, when the veil which shroudeth him in the Sacrament is broken, in each broken fragment thereof remaineth the whole Christ himself, perfect God and perfect Man. All that the senses can reach in this Sacrament, all these abide of bread and wine, but the Thing is not bread and wine. And thus room is left for faith. For Christ, who hath a Form that can be seen, is herein taken and received not only unseen, but seeming to be bread and wine, and the senses, which judge by the wonted look, are warranted against error.

Than this Sacrament can anything be more health-giving? Thereby are sins purged away, strength is renewed, and the soul fed upon the fatness of spiritual gifts. This Supper is offered up in the Church, both for the quick and the dead ; it was ordained to the health of all, all get the good of it. Than this Sacrament can anything yield more of royal dainties? The glorious sweetness thereof is of a truth such that no man can fully tell it. Therein ghostly comfort is sucked from its very well-head. Therein a Memorial is made of that exceeding great love which Christ shewed in time of his sufferings. 

It was in order that the boundless goodness of that his great love might be driven home into the hearts of his faithful ones, that when he had celebrated the Passover with his disciples, and the Last Supper was ended, then, knowing that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end, and instituted this Sacrament. For this Sacrament is the everlasting forth-shewing of his death until he come again ; this Sacrament is the embodied fulfilment of all the ancient types and figures ; this Sacrament is the greatest wonder which ever he wrought, and the one mighty joy of them that now have sorrow, till he shall come again ; and thereby their heart shall rejoice, and their joy no man take from them.
The Holy Eucharist is both the source and the summit of all Catholics.  We receive life from the Blessed Sacrament and, since it is the actual Body, Blood, Soul  and Divinity of our Lord, it is also that for which we long above all else.  We have no life apart from Christ.  We have no life apart from Him in the Blessed Sacrament.  Is it any wonder that our world is dying when it has rejected the only source of Life?

Jesus Christ tell us the following in John 6:54-57:
54 Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say to you: Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.

55 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

56 *For my flesh, is meat indeed: and my blood, is drink indeed:

57 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him.
The Holy Eucharist - The Source and Summit of all Life

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