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Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

The Solemnity of the
Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

“Jesus is no longer present to men in the same way that he was on the roads of Palestine. After the Resurrection, he appeared in his glorious body to the women and to his disciples. Then he took the Apostles and "led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them... he parted from them... and was carried up into heaven" (Lk. 24:50-51). But in ascending to the Father, Christ did not distance himself from men. He dwells forever in the midst of his brethren and, just as he promised, he accompanies them and guides them with his Spirit. Henceforth, his presence is of another kind. Indeed, "at the Last Supper, after celebrating the Passover with his disciples and when he was about to pass from this world to his Father, Christ instituted this sacrament as the perpetual memorial of his Passion..., the greatest of all his miracles, and he left this sacrament to those whom his absence filled with grief, as an incomparable consolation" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Office of Corpus Christi, ST 4). Every time we celebrate the Eucharist in the Church, we recall the death of the Savior, we proclaim his Resurrection as we await his return. Thus no sacrament is greater or more precious than that of the Eucharist; and when we receive Communion, we are incorporated into Christ. Our life is transformed and taken up by the Lord.” (Saint Pope John Paul II, On the occasion of the 750th anniversary of the first celebration of the feast of Corpus Christi, L'Osservatore Romano (English Edition) 26 June 1996, page 6)

Today we celebrate the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, the day when the Church commemorates the institution of the sacrament of the Eucharist. This is the Church’s official act of reverence and thanksgiving to Christ, who by instituting the Holy Eucharist on Holy Thursday, gave His Church her greatest treasure.

This solemnity formerly known as the Feast of Corpus Christi, can be credited to Saint Juliana of Liege who had a series of visions in which she was instructed to establish a feast day to exalt the sacrament of the Eucharist. This feast was instituted by the Bishop of Liege in 1264.

"Any day is a good day to pay Him a visit."

"This the truth to Christians given:
Bread becomes his Flesh from heaven,
Wine becomes his holy Blood.
Doth it pass thy comprehending?
Yet by faith, thy sight transcending,
wondrous things are understood."
(Thomas Aquinas, Laud, O Zion, Thy Salvation)

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