Monday, June 27, 2011

Corpus Christi

We celebrated Corpus Christi with most of the English-speaking world last Sunday.  I rather like it being on a Sunday as Corpus Christi is not a Day of Obligation in South Africa.

 We didn't have a Procession of the Blessed Sacrament but Adoration from after the early Sunday Mass followed by Benediction just before the Sung Mass.  I think that processions only really work in Catholic countries where there is a general understanding of what is going on and it is a real celebration.  Traipsing around the near empty streets of central Johannesburg doesn't make any sense to me.  If this was Malta we'd have bands, music and fun in warm weather rather than the freezing cold of a Highveld Winter with weak attempts at singing!

Incidentally it is officially now known as The Solemnity of the Body & Blood of Christ.

The Feast was established by Pope Urban IV in 1264 to be celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday.  It was the very first feast declared to be celebrated throughout the Latin Rite by papal bull.  St Thomas Aquinas was commissioned to compose the liturgy for the day and he produced Pange Lingua for Vespers and Verbum Supernum Prodiens for Lauds.  The last two verses of each of these hymns are sung at Benediction, Tantum Ergo and O Salutaris Hostia.

The great thing about Adoration and Benediction is that they provide a helpful focus for prayer and the increasing popularity of these extra-eucharistic devotions  shows that many people find them helpful.  The idea of "visiting" Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament when passing a church might sound simple and old-fashioned but it isn't a bad idea!  It does establish the importance of the Real Presence of Christ in our churches.
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