Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

My brother told me one time he was having dinner at a friend's house and after slicing a piece of Italian bread, he stuck the knife into the loaf. It may not sound like something astounding, but his friend's mother exclaimed that it was the Body of Christ and he should not have done that.
The woman was born in Sicily and I think she may have meant the loaf of bread was a symbol of the Body of Christ and perhaps my brother had stabbed it. Whatever her reason, he was shocked by the ordeal.
And this leads me to the other day when my friend, Peter, now in his 60s, said as a young Roman Catholic Portuguese kid, he often skipped Mass and with his buddies gave out white Necco wafer candies as Communion on a street corner in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
My own cousins would "play" church in their basement acting as priests and giving out the Holy Eucharist of fruit punch and Nilla wafer cookies. I remember my father telling me that Communion was to be taken seriously and I was forbidden to go to "Mass" at my cousin's house or conduct my own at home, although I don't recall ever wanting to.
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, more commonly known as the Feast of Corpus Christi, honors the Eucharist and is a moveable feast celebrated the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. It falls between May 21 and June 24, each year.
A doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church explains that transubstantiation is the changing of the elements of bread and wine, when they are consecrated in the Eucharist, as the Body and Blood of Christ.
The feast of Corpus Christi (a mandatory feast in the Roman Catholic Church since 1312), was promoted as early as 1208 by St. Juliana of Liege, an Augustinian nun.

"Lord Jesus Christ, You gave us the Eucharist
as the memorial of Your suffering and death.
May our worship of this sacrament of Your Body and Blood
help us to experience the salvation You won for us
and the peace of the kingdom
where you live with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen."

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