WDTPRS: Corpus Christi – COLLECT (2002MR)

Here is a Corpus Christi reflection which I wrote some time ago for The Wanderer:

In 1246, Robert of Thourotte, Bishop of Liège, Belgium, had instituted in his diocese the feast now known as Corpus Christi at the request of an Augustinian nun Juliana of Cornillon, who composed an office for it.  In 1264, Pope Urban IV ordered the feast of the Body of Christ to be celebrated as a holy day of obligation for the universal Church on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday and accepted the texts by the Angelic Doctor for the Mass and office.  

Today’s Collect, composed by the St. Thomas Aquinas (+1274) and used at Benediction, was assumed into the post-Tridentine 1570 Missale Romanum where it has remained unchanged in all subsequent editions. 

COLLECT – (2002MR):
Deus, qui nobis sub sacramento mirabili
passionis tuae memoriam reliquisti,
tribue, quaesumus,
ita nos Corporis et Sanguinis tui sacra mysteria venerari,
ut redemptionis tuae fructum in nobis iugiter sentiamus

I love that snappy clausula at the end… iúgiter séntiámus!  This is a marvelous prayer to sing.  Fortunately I get to do so often since in those places where I lurk we have frequent Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament with all the prayers in Latin. 

ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):
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.

Shall we have some vocabulary?  In case you were trying to look for reliquisti in your own copy of the Lewis & Short Dictionary, that esteemed tome of Latin wisdom, it is the perfect of relinquo.  It means a range of things like, “leave, leave behind” not only in the sense of in the sense of abandoning but more importantly for us also in the sense of bequeathing.  A memoria is not just “memory, the faculty of remembering,”,  it is also, “the time of remembrance” and “an historical account, narration.”  In early Christian Latin works memoria also means “a monument” in the sense of a “memorial”.   

Iugiter is a great word.  It comes ultimately from the noun iugum, “a yoke or collar for horses”, “beam, lath, or rail fastened in a horizontal direction to perpendicular poles or posts, a cross-beam”.  The yoke was a symbol for defeat and slavery.  A victorious Roman general would compel the vanquished to pass under a yoke (sub iugum whence the English word “subjugate”) made of spears as a token of defeat. Vae victis! was their wail, “Woe to the vanquished!”  The prisoners were yoked together and paraded in the returning general’s triumph procession through the Forum’s via sacra to the temple of Capitoline Jupiter.  Iugiter (an adverb from the adjective iugis “yoked together”, cf. iungo) signifies “continuously”, as if one moment in time is being yoked together with the next, and the next, and so on.  

O God, who bequeathed to us under a wondrous sacrament
the memorial of Your Passion,
grant us,
we implore,
to venerate the sacred mysteries of Your Body and Blood
in such a way that we constantly sense within us the fruit of Your redemption

I have heard from many places that the customs of Corpus Christi processions, Forty Hours Devotion, and Eucharistic Adoration are returning in force.  People want and need these things.  They help us to be better Catholic Christians through contact with Christ.  The bad old days of post-Conciliar denigration of these necessary practices lingers a bit but the aging-hippie priests and liturgists are losing ground under the two-fold pincer of common sense and a genuine Catholic love of Jesus.  

In the seminary I attended in the 1980’s we were informed with a superior sneer towards those quaint old processions and devotions that, “Jesus said ‘Take and eat, not sit and look!’” 

Somehow, “looking” was opposed to “receiving”. 

This is the same error, I think, inherent in the puzzling idea that if people aren’t constantly singing or carrying stuff during Mass they are not “actively” participating as if listening and watching must be only “passive”. 

Younger people no longer have that baggage, happily.  They desire the good things of our Catholic inheritance.  They resist passé attempts to make Jesus “smaller”.  They want much more, as much as the Church can give.

Remember: this is not the fault of the Council itself.  If blame must be assigned it rests on the shoulders of those who misappropriated the Council’s authority to sustain their own ideas. 

Those oh so enlightened experts of the Council’s “spirit” will benignly indulge the view that old rites and customs once served a purpose long ago, perhaps for the ignorant old-world peasant and unschooled new-world immigrant, but our shiny new up-to-date man – er um – person doesn’t need those things anymore.  In this modern age man has changed.  Eucharistic devotions would be harmful rather than helpful.  They must never be permitted!  We won’t crawl in submission before God anymore. We stand!  We do not go in archaic triumphal processions or kneel to Him as judgmental King.  We take (h)im/she/it/ourselves by the hand as helping Buddy!  We are grown up now, not child-like peasant slaves before a master who is lord and father of our household.  We have changed and so old things are no longer suitable.


Perhaps passing details of society have changed, its fashions and ideas shifting like sandbars, but man has not changed however well dressed or sophisticated.  Admittedly there is wider education now and greater affluence in first world countries.  Many advances have been attained.  But we, as human beings, have not changed.  We poor fallen souls, citizens of modern society and newly arrived immigrants equally, all need concrete things through which by our senses we can perceive invisible realities.  Urbane schooling and wealth might well be greater obstacles to the spiritual life than poverty and ignorance, urban or rustic.  Man remains human always, good but wounded.  

In 1986 the English edition of Joseph Ratzinger’s Feast of Faith was published by Ignatius Press.  In that volume Benedict XVI reflected on the feast of Corpus Christi.  His Holiness juxtaposed the sad decline of Eucharistic devotions after the Second Vatican Council with what the Council of Trent taught.  Although the anti-triumphalism of some post-Conciliar liturgists had repressed Eucharistic exposition, adoration and processions,

the Council of Trent had been far less inhibited.  It said that the purpose of Corpus Christi was to arouse gratitude in the hearts of men and to remind them of their common Lord. (cf. Decr. desc. Euch., c. 5; DS 1644).  Here in a nutshell, we have in fact three purposes: Corpus Christi is to counter man’s forgetfulness, to elicit his thankfulness, and it has something to do with fellowship, with that unifying power which is at work where people are looking for the one Lord.  A great deal could be said about this; for with our computers, meetings and appointments we have become appallingly thoughtless and forgetful (pp. 128-9).

Let us consider Trent again for a moment.  There we find the unqualified statement that Corpus Christi celebrates Christ’s triumph, his victory over death. Just as, according to our Bavarian custom, Christ was honored in the terms of a great state visit, Trent harks back to the practice of the ancient Romans who honored their victorious generals by holding triumphal processions on their return.  The purpose of Christ’s campaign was to eliminate death, that death which devours time and makes us cultivate the lie in order to forget or “kill” time.  … Far from detracting from the primacy of reception which is expressed in the gifts of bread and wine, it actually reveals fully and for the first time what “receiving” really means, namely, giving the Lord the reception due to the Victor.  To receive him means to worship him; to receive him means precisely, Quantum potes tantum aude – dare to do as much as you can.  (p. 130).

Christ invites us to learn His ways through the image of His yoke taken upon our shoulders (Matthew 11:29-30).  In terms of the world crosses and yokes are heavy instruments of bitter humiliation.  Jesus says His yoke of subjugation is “sweet” and “light”.  True freedom lies precisely in subjugation to Him.  Yokes are sweet when they are His. 

To win for us this sweet yoke, He did not defeat us, He defeated the death in us. 

We need no longer fear the death we all face.

In the Blessed Sacrament we now proclaim with Christ the Triumphant Victor, “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” (cf. 1 Cor 15:54b – 57).

We cannot honor enough the Body and Precious Blood of Christ by which we were redeemed. 

I affirm my subjugation to Christ Victor, God and King, triumphant over death, vanquisher of hell and my sins. 

Before His transforming glory in the Eucharist I am content to kneel until with His own hand He raises me.

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26 Responses to WDTPRS: Corpus Christi – COLLECT (2002MR)

  1. DocJim says:

    We had an outstanding surprise this morning to find a bishop saying Mass for our somewhat small Latin Mass congregation. The Rt Rev Peter Elliot, Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne, Australia said the Mass and gave the homily. During this unusually wonderful Mass, he said during the homily that he had spent many years in Rome and when Pope JohnPaul began to lead the Corpus Christi procession with the monstrance, it gradually gathered more and people. He urged any of us to join in the procession if ever in Rome at that time. The text for Bishop Elliot was the parable of the man with a banquet and many who wanted to be excused from attending.

    As a theologian, he drove home the point of this as the invitation not just to a banquet, but it was symbolic of the invitation to God’s banquet of eternal life. Having attended the Synod on the Eucharist, he said that the point came to the floor of harmonizing the ideas of the sacrifice and the meal. At this moment in the Synod discussion, he said Pope Benedict XVI spoke up and explained that the English and German words for meal are inadequate to this. Instead in English we should be discussing the sacrifice and the banquet as two different realms of the Eucharist.

    God Bless Bishop Elliot.
    His Welsh baritone and knowledge as a learned theologian and his obvious thorough Latin understanding made the Mass the second most memorable of my conversion life. Bishop Elliot speaks his Latin with feeling and with an Italian accent. A remarkable man, who I hope is allowed to become a more visible leader within the Church.

  2. Father: Amen. I’ll pray for you during the Archdiocesan Eucharistic procession today. Where, I’m sure, today, many seminarians from that seminary you attended 20 years ago will be well represented and supported.

  3. Dr. Lyn says:

    Father, thank you. Yesterday was our Eucharistic Congress in Atlanta, GA and todday we were reminded that we are so lucky in our Parish to have Perpetual Adoration. Those of us old enought to remember before Vatican II and the young are the most excited about this. We hope that everyone will learn the peace and sweetness of spending time in front of the Eucharist, in complete and toal adoration. There is so much grace there. Sometimes I feel that I have even had a glimpse of heaven during my hours. God bless!

  4. Disgusted in DC says:

    Can old-timers tell us how common were Corpus Christi processions in the United States before the Council? One can see how they might have been done in certain ethnically monochrone neighborhoods, but wasn’t there always the risk in many areas that anti-Catholics would try to disrupt or profane the Blessed Sacrament, thus rendering such processions too risky? I can think of some American neighborhoods today where many of the residents would be seriously tempted to throw rocks, garbage, and feces on the participants in such a procession.

  5. RichR says:

    The (young) transitional deacon at the local parish chanted the abbreviated version of the CC Sequence in Latin. He did a great job, and gave a great homily. I think he’s been ordained for less than a month. All the seminarians here are cut from this same cloth. Signs of hope :))

  6. maldon says:

    Silly question:
    Who made the “Ecce Panis Angelorum” image? Is it an engraver? I have seen these before and I love this style. If anyone has an idea, please let me know.

  7. JBS says:

    I once had a Corpus Christi procession through a migrant camp. The old man, who never came to Mass because he was still hung-over from the night before, removed his hat and knelt in the mud as we passed him. The men and women known to live well outside the moral confines of our faith turned off their radios and dropped to their knees as we came round. Something about that experience of God passing cinderblock “houses” and industrial dustbins beneath a gold canopy and above a gold-clad priest, visible only through fly-dispersing incense, made it clear to me why we must have these processions: God must be taken back out into the world. It a sign of defiance that Satan, despite all his efforts to run man into the ground, has not won. Christ is the victor over both the spiritual and the material worlds, something this devotion insists is true.

  8. Maureen says:

    The Corpus Christi eucharistic procession at Emmanuel in Dayton yesterday was well-attended (as was Mass, of course). The little kids were absolutely enthralled by the colored woodshaving/white sand artworks glued to the street, interested in the flower petals strewn everywhere, and dead silent whenever the monstrance passed. (The whole procession went back and forth on a one block, one lane street, so the monstrance passed us on the other side of the street a couple of different times, and we just knelt in the street, no problem.) :) Adults and teenagers were also in good spirits, and the older folks were showing people how it was done.

    But you know what? The whole devotion and worship thing was so normal. It felt no more strange than it feels to straighten up after being bent over for a long time. There are a lot of aspects of traditional Catholic practices that can seem strange to those of us born after the changes, but this really isn’t strange at all.

    Anyway, today my mom said she mentioned my going to the eucharistic procession to the music director at the little university chapel near her house. The music director was negative about it and started talking about how singing Tantum Ergo Sacramentum in Latin was a bad thing (and I don’t even know how they got onto that, although we did sing Tantum). But one of the college kids who helps with the music got all excited, and said that she would love to have gone to the procession, and that Latin songs were fascinating. So there’s some food for thought for the music director. (Who’s a very nice lady, but surprisingly inflexible when it comes to throwing in older material.)

  9. Martin says:

    We had no procession today in my local church. We never do.

  10. paul says:

    Another modernist fallacy is that the Mass is not complete unless one receives Holy Communion. There are many people who are not properly prepared to receive and yet if they attend Mass they have fullfilled their sunday obligation. We are obligated to hear Mass on Sundays and holy days, we are also obligated to worthily receive Communion at least once a year during the Easter time.

  11. quovadis7 says:

    Phenomenal reflection on Corpus Christi Father Z!

    I saved a copy to my PDA, just so that I can have it handy wherever I go. :-)

    Don’t ya just think that the “sleeping giant” of traditional Catholicism is beginning to reawaken?

    I am convinced that it is.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for all you do for Our Lord’s Church, Pope Benedict XVI and Fr. Z!

    Pacis et benedictionis tibi, per Christum Dominum nostrum.

  12. Andy F. says:

    I walked within feet of Our Lord and Pope Benedict that night. It was like walking through Jerusalem with Jesus and Peter.

  13. TMG says:

    I just participated today in my first Feast of Corpus Christi procession and it was a wonderful experience. With our priest from the SSPX in his cassock holding the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament aloft, our procession of I’m estimating 90 people, made its way through the neighborhood (for what seemed like a good half a mile or more) surrounding our Chapel. Rose petals were strewn by the little children and Hail Mary’s were said the whole way. What a tangible and visual statement of Catholicism to those of the neighborhood and to passerbys on the main street. I am blessed to have been able to be a part of this.

  14. PMcGrath says:


    Do you want us to send in pictures of this year’s processions that we have? I have a few from my parish that may be useful. I remember that we did that last year.

    (trying to remember if he wants them sent as attachments or embedded.)

    “Less yammering, more processions.”

  15. Joe says:

    TMG- Glad you enjoyed your first ever Corpus Christi procession with a renegade priest of the SSPX. Perhaps it is time for the Church to split like the Jews- what do they have?- orthodox, reformed, and conservative. Sounds like a good idea. So many people would be so much happier, and there would be so much less strife- and sinning! No more wishing the aging hippie priests dead, no more paranoia over the supposed agenda of the NO priests who don’t know Latin and have no desire to learn, and the multitude of traditional seminarians could pursue their studies and vocations w/o having to play games and become poseurs for things they abhor.

  16. Gail F says:

    Joe: If we split, then we’re not the Church anymore. There’s only ONE holy, Catholic, and apostolic church.

    I am 45 years old and I never even heard of a Corpus Christi procession until this year. There are actually a couple in the area, but I could not go because we had a family reunion to attend. But on the way to the family reunion we ended up stopping to pick up some food at the end of a Gay Pride parade. Hmmmmmm.

  17. Robert says:

    I took part in my first Corpus Christi procession today after attending our local EF Mass. (Unfortunately, not at my own parish. And the homily my wife endured at our parish was basically everything Fr. Z said he endured in seminary above. Which is why we are seriously thinking about changing parishes.)

    We had three priests and a deacon taking turns carrying the monstrance, including the (elderly) priest who had celebrated the EF Mass just 15 minutes earlier at a different parish. And it was a long procession – as the crow flies almost 3 miles but with all the twists and turns probably closer to 4 miles. It took us 2 hours of steady walking, praying and singing in our first 80 degree heat of the year.

    My wife and I are converts, in our early 30’s, and I completely agree with Fr. Z when he says:

    Younger people no longer have that baggage, happily. They desire the good things of our Catholic inheritance. They resist passé attempts to make Jesus “smaller”. They want much more, as much as the Church can give.

    More processions, less jabbering!

  18. MISSING IT ALL says:

    You are all so lucky! In our parish you cannot tell the difference between Christmas, Easter or the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time. Every Mass is as plain and simple as possible – no confiteor, no incense, only the same Eucharistic Prayer is every used, etc…and all the music is from Gather Us In. Nothing is ever made special. At times I feel we could pass for a protestant chapel.

  19. ssoldie says:

    Let processions come forth, and thank you for your wonderful words.

  20. Nick says:

    I just noticed a photo of two men in Bermuda shorts carrying the canopy for a Corpus Christi procession at http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/ . Have things really sunk so low?

  21. sacerdos in germania says:

    “Who made the “Ecce Panis Angelorum” image? Is it an engraver? I have seen these before and I love this style. If anyone has an idea, please let me know.”


    This is the work of Frater Max Schmalzl(1850-1930). He was a Redemptorist brother and artist who was commissioned by the famous Frederich Pustet publishing company(among others)to draw and paint religious art for their missals and breviaries. This is but one example of his many drawings…

  22. Liz F. says:

    Yes, I see that we are very blessed to have been able to participate in our Corpus Christi procession. I’m not sure how many people were there, but I would guess 200 or so. We went from our church (EF) to a church of the Blessed Sacrament (OF) with 3 altars in between. It was lovely. I couldn’t help but pray for the people we passed in their cars and on their porches. I kept wondering what they were thinking. Two gentlemen were sitting on their old porch looking as if they were perhaps disinterested. As I prayed for them and passed them, I noticed a rosary over the mirror in the car parked in their yard! It was neat that some of the policemen crossed themselves as the Most Blessed Sacrament passed them. I didn’t even want to go. I have to admit I was a bit grumpy as we had just had celebrated Corpus Christi on Thursday and it seemed redundant. Still it was lovely to do with a OF parish. I am ashamed at my grumpiness now. So many blessings. I need to stop and count them once in a while!

  23. Alina ofs says:

    “You are all so lucky! In our parish you cannot tell the difference between Christmas, Easter or the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time. Every Mass is as plain and simple as possible – no confiteor, no incense, only the same Eucharistic Prayer is every used, etc…and all the music is from Gather Us In. Nothing is ever made special. At times I feel we could pass for a protestant chapel.

    Comment by MISSING IT ALL”

    I feel for you. I have the same problem in my own parish, although things are improving. It’s NOT my parishpriests fault, the parishioners are carrying tons of bagage from the past. That bagage makes them relinquish anything that’s slightly traditional.

    But like I said: things ARE improving. Be patient. Pray!

    Ten years ago, in my diocese, processions were only done on churchground. Yesterday, on Corpus Christi, we did not only have a 2-mile procession with the relics of our patron saint, St. Bonifatius, (which we had for the 3rd year)but because it was the feast of Corpus Christi, we had a big procession with incense. The H. Sacrament was a bridge too far, tough. But there is hope!

  24. Alex says:

    We had a lovely Mass and Procession at my NO parish. It was a Solmen Mass, latin Mass parts, Incense, roughly 12 altar boys (yes boys) Fr sang certain Mass parts. 15 or so of the First Holy Communion class wore their attire from Firt COmmunion and scattered Rose petals, the bell tower pealed in joy. This is our 3rd Blessed Sacrament procession in two years, we also have had 2 Marian processions. Why do I go into detail? Because this is a newly ordained priest arraging this and a very cooperative pastor. Hope my friends, Hope!

  25. Dominic H says:

    No procession in my parish this year; the neighbouring parish (one that has a monthly TLM) had a substantial procession all around the town, accompanied by a brass band!

  26. Latekate says:

    ” Admittedly there is wider education now and greater affluence in first world countries.”

    I’m not so sure about this. If folks were widely educated they would be more discerning, understand the difference between God and the world, logical fallacies, history, etc. Few people even read anything of substance anymore. There was a time when people used the Bible to learn to read and as a textbook of sorts.

    People are more widely technically and vocationally trained today. There is material affluence and spiritual poverty. Birthright for pottage.