Why should you read about Corpus Christi? Yeah, you know the saying – the Body of Christ! Nowadays you have even heard as the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Are you missing something significant about the feast of Corpus Christi?
Quick Facts about Corpus Christi
Just a brief on ‘Corpus Christi’ to refresh the basic information you already know. The Catholic Church officially celebrates the feast of Corpus Christi on Thursday after the Trinity Sunday. But it is often celebrated on Sunday after the Trinity Sunday. Trinity Sunday follows the feast of Pentecost. Pope Urban IV established the feast of Corpus Christi on September 8, 1264. The focus of the feast is on the Holy Eucharist. The choice of scripture readings for the day reflects the message (Exodus 24:3-8; Psalm 116:12-13, 15-16, 17-18; Hebrews 9:11-15 and Mark 14:12-16, 22-26). The Gospel reading relates mainly to the Last Supper and the consecration of bread and wine.
But why celebrate a separate day of the Eucharist, as we celebrate the same feast on the Holy Thursday? Continue reading to know more.
Is Corpus Christi a day of obligation?
Yeah, you don’t want to miss it. Corpus Christi is one of the ten days of obligations in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. However, it is not a day of obligation in the United States. You may have to check with your diocese (or country of residence) if Corpus Christi is part of the day of obligation. Given the Covid-19 pandemic concession, the Church might have eased these obligations for the general public like the Sunday obligation.
Corpus Christi took 60 years to become a universal
The feast was first celebrated in 1246 in the Diocese of Liege, Belgium. But it wasn’t until 1300 that the feast became widespread in the Church, after the Council of Vienne in 1311. Even the feast itself had a long road to be accepted in the Church. It was the idea of Saint Juliana of Mont Cornillion in Belgium. The idea was presented to Bishop Robert de Thorete of Liege. Then the idea was presented to the archdeacon in Liege, who later became Pope Urban IV. Not over, even after Pope Urban IV declared it as a universal feast, it took almost sixty years for the world to adopt the celebration.
Corpus Christi Procession was not part of the plan
Pope Urban IV (1264) and Pope Clement V (1311) published decrees regarding the feast. Interestingly, neither of these decrees had a mention of public procession for the adoration of the Eucharist. Is the procession an expression of the faith of the ordinary people? Today, most people remember the feast because of the procession with the blessed sacrament in the Church or public square.
Inspiration for the Corpus Christi Feast
The feast is attributed to the devotion of Saint Juliana of Liege (1193-1258). She felt the Blessed Sacrament deserved reverence and recognition. The Holy Thursday service includes a focus on the Eucharist, priesthood, and ministry of service. Overall, the Holy Week liturgy overshadows the priority to the Eucharist. Saint Juliana received a vision to promote reverence to the Eucharist. She worked hard for forty years that her vision becomes acceptable in the life of faithful people through the Church’s mandate.
How is the Corpus Christi feast celebrated?
You will notice that your parish is having a procession around the parish area or within the church setting. Yes, there may be eucharistic adoration held after the mass concluding with benediction. There will be prayers about the eucharist and a lot of incense to venerate the blessed sacrament. In some parts of the world, Corpus Christi is a public holiday.
Which prayers to use on the feast of Corpus Christi?
Yes, you can prayer Anima Christi
Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within your wounds hide me.
Permit me not to be separated from you.
From the wicked foe, defend me.
At the hour of my death, call me
and bid me come to you
That with your saints I may praise you
Forever and ever. Amen.
In addition, you can pray the novena in preparation for the feast. I came across a site praymorenovena.com – which promises to deliver everyday prayer in your inbox.
More than prayers, you can spend time before the Blessed Sacrament. Pray for an ability to see the face of Christ in others, or even praying for seven random people.
In recent years, the feast has almost disappeared from the public domain. As the Church eased the obligation, the interest in the feast appears to fade. However, those who still adhere to the tradition hold to their expression of faith on the feast day of Corpus Christi. There is a yearning to revive the solemnity of Corpus Christi to the grandeur of the olden days. Yes, there is also a need to express it creatively for our times – to identify with the suffering humanity and extend solidarity to the less fortunate. Let the Body and Blood of Christ continue to heal and restore the blessing on humanity.