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The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

By Fr. Dave Veit, Pastor

This Sunday we celebrateDies Sanctissimi Corporis et Sanguinis Domini Iesu Christi,” (Day of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ the Lord), more commonly referred to simply as “Corpus Christi.”  It was first locally celebrated in 1246 by Bishop Robert de Thorte of Liege, Belgium, and then extended to the universal Church by Pope Urban in 1264. The office composed by St. Thomas Aquinas and customary procession was approved by Popes Martin V and Eugene IV.  Aquinas is the author of the beautiful and theologically rich “sequence” that we often have proclaimed or even sung before the Gospel at Mass on this Solemnity.

Contributing to the establishment of the feast, in 1263 a German priest, Fr. Peter of Prague, made a pilgrimage to Rome. He stopped in Bolsena, Italy, to celebrate Mass at the Church of St. Christina. At the time he was having doubts about Jesus being truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. He was affected by the growing debate among certain theologians who, for the first significant time in the history of the Church, began introducing doubts about the Body and Blood of Christ being actually present in the consecrated bread and wine. In response to his doubt, when he recited the prayer of consecration as he celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, blood started seeping from the consecrated host and onto the altar, corporal and floor. Many witnessed this. The priest wrapped the bleeding Host in corporals and brought the Host and corporals to the Bishop at Orvieto. The Bishop consulted with Pope Urban IV. The miracle was affirmed, and the Host and corporals remain in Orvieto for veneration to this day.

On this day 758 years later, we continue to publicly adore Jesus, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, really and truly present in the Eucharist, with a procession using the Monstrance (from the Latin “Mostrare” meaning “to show”).   In a joyful procession with song, Jesus will be carried in a monstrance by the priest, with a canopy, candles, and incense for reverence, with our recent First Communicants in a place of honor, and with many faithful following. We will show others, especially for those who in our own time are plagued by doubt in the real presence, our steadfast and full belief in the Eucharist —  An act that will at the same time glorify God and strengthen our own relationship with Him.  Praise God for such a beautiful opportunity to come together as one Catholic Community of Pettis county, to proclaim publicly what we believe!