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Feast of Corpus Christi 18 June 2017

Some words by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh] {Reflection here only the view of the above}

Corpus Christi reminds me of processions I walked in as a child, going through the streets of my home town. The finish was on the promenade where Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament took place on the bandstand. After blessing the people, the priest blessed the sea, that there be a safe season for swimmers, boats and fishing that would take place during the summer. Petals were strewn by girls in their white veils and First Communion dresses and two altar servers swung thuribles, gushing smoke sweetened with incense. It was a wonderful event to behold and drew huge crowds.

It’s now many years since a procession has taken place there. This way of honouring the presence of Jesus has changed but the sacredness and wonder of the Blessed Sacrament has not changed one iota since those days of my childhood. In those days, I thought that this great devotion went back to the beginning of our Church. Not so.

The devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament can be traced back to a vision of Juliana of Liège, Belgium, a 13th Century Norbertine Canoness. She wanted the church to have a feast of the Blessed Sacrament, as there is for Mary, Joseph, Angels and Saints. A breakthrough came in 1263, when Pope Urban V1 started the Feast of Corpus Christi to be spread throughout Europe. In due course, devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and processions spread to all parts of the Catholic world. *

Besides emotional attachment to the beauty of processions, the church has never forgotten that Jesus in the Eucharist is primarily to be consumed by us and to consume us. The readings today tell that the Body and Blood of Jesus from the Last Supper until today, are the gift of God’s Son given as food and drink to sustain us. I see no contraction between the beauty of the processions and the realisation of our call to be the Body of Christ that we receive.

*Thanks to Scripture in Church, No.186 page 64*

Seeing that I am in the mood to reminisce, I can recall vividly the excitement as the documents of the Second Vatican Council (1962 – 1965) became the basic texts of my studies. This great Council reminded us of the four Presences of Jesus in the Mass:

  1. In the presider [priest]
  2. In consecrated Bread and Wine
  3. In the Word of God and
  4. In the people gathered

No. 4 can be overlooked and sometimes we may slip into the trap of thinking that this is the priest’s Mass. Already as Mass begins, we are the Body of Christ, called together to pray and to be strengthened by Heavenly food. Then at the end of Mass, we are scattered to be the Presence of Jesus Christ in the world, wherever we find ourselves. The Eucharistic Minister simply makes the statement, ‘The Body of Christ’. When we answer this statement with AMEN, we are saying two things – yes, I believe that Jesus is present, but also, I believe that already we are the Body of Christ.

I still tremble at the thought of this love relationship with Christ and His trust in me to be His presence in the world. That is why I mean it every time when I say before Holy Communion, ‘Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof.’ Perhaps that is why Pope Francis says that Holy Communion is not just a reward for good behaviour. Holy Communion is food for the journey to eternity, keeping us alive as did manna for the wandering People of God.

Sorry for so much theory in this week’s reflection. Let me share with you where I learn most about the beauty of the Eucharist – at First Communions. Seeing a child go to receive Jesus for the first time, I see a miracle of God working in His beloved, ‘little ones’. Their faces are a picture of God’s. For 9 years, I’ve been privileged to give First Communion to newly baptised and confirmed Adults at the Easter Vigil. There too I see wonder and love in their eyes. ‘Everyone who eats this bread will live forever.’ Amen.


Saint Joseph's Catholic Church
50 Avenue Hoche
75008 Paris, France
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