Here is a photo I took a few years ago in the Vatican Gardens during a Corpus Christi procession. That great edifice in the background is back of St. Peter’s Basilica. It isn’t often you get Swiss Guards to carry the canopy.
I noted that His Eminence Marc Card. Ouellet said the other day that adoration of the Blessed Sacrament Cardinal “must not be belittled as a pious but now outdated custom.” It is, instead, “a development of the living tradition, which felt the need to express faith in Christ’s real presence in the sacrament in this way.”
In our efforts for any new evangelization, open and fervent and even public adoration of the Blessed Sacrament must be promoted.
On that note, here are some thoughts which I have offered up in the past, but which I share with you veteran readers again, and with you new readers in a fresh way.
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.
At the request of an Augustinian nun, Juliana of Cornillon, in 1246 the Bishop of Liège, Robert of Thourotte, instituted in his diocese a feast now known as Corpus Christi. A few years later, following a great Eucharistic miracle in which a priest suffering doubts witnessed a Host become flesh and bleed on the linen corporal, Pope Urban IV n 1264 ordered the feast of the Body of Christ to be celebrated by the universal Church on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. The Angelic Doctor, St Thomas Aquinas (d 1274), composed the feast’s Mass and Office. The Collect for today’s Mass, also used during Benediction, was assumed into the 1570 Missale Romanum. It has remained unchanged.
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.
Iugiter, an adverb, is from iugum, “a yoke or collar for horses”, “beam, lath, or rail fastened in a horizontal direction to perpendicular poles or posts, a cross-beam”. Iugiter means “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 to 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.
CURRENT ICEL (2011):
O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament have left us a memorial of your Passion, grant us, we pray, so to revere the sacred mysteries of your Body and Blood that we may always experience in ourselves the fruits of your redemption.
In the 1980’s we seminarians were informed with a superior sneer that, “Jesus said ‘Take and eat, not sit and look!’” Somehow, “looking” was opposed to “receiving”, “doing”. This same error is at the root of false propositions about “active participation”: if people aren’t constantly singing or carrying stuff they are “passive”.
Younger people no longer have that baggage, happily. They desire the all good things of our Catholic patrimony. They want as much as Holy Church can give. They resist passé attempts to make Jesus “smaller”.
After the Second Vatican Council, many liturgists (all but a few?) asserted that, because modern man is all grown up now, Eucharistic devotions are actually harmful rather than helpful. We mustn’t crawl in submission before God anymore. We won’t grovel in archaic triumphal processions or kneel as if before some king. We are urbane adults, not child-like peasants below a father or feudal master. We stand and take rather than kneel and receive.
How this lie has damaged our Catholic identity! Some details of society have changed like shifting sandbars, but man doesn’t change. God remains transcendent. We poor, fallen human beings need concrete things through which we can perceive invisible realities.
The bad old days of post-Conciliar denigration of wholesome devotional practices may linger, but the aging-hippie priests and liberal liturgists have lost most of their ground under the two-fold pincer of common sense and the genuine Catholic love people have for Jesus in the Eucharist. The customs of Corpus Christi processions, Forty Hours Devotion, and Eucharistic Adoration are returning in force. People want and need these devotions. They help us to be better Catholic Christians through contact with Christ and through giving public witness to our faith.
The iugum (whence iugiter) was a symbol for defeat and slavery. A victorious Roman general compelled the vanquished to pass under a yoke (sub iugum, “subjugate”) made of spears. Prisoners were later yoked together and paraded in the returning general’s triumph procession.
In worldly terms, crosses and yokes are instruments of bitter humiliation.
Jesus says His yoke is “sweet” and “light”.
Christ invites us to learn His ways through the image of His yoke upon our shoulders (Matthew 11:29-30). True freedom lies precisely in subjugation to Him. His yokes are sweet yokes. He did not defeat us to give us His yoke. He defeated death in us to raise us by His yoke. In honoring the Blessed Sacrament we proclaim with the Triumphant Victor Christ, “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” (cf 1 Cor 15:54b – 57).
Proponents of true “liberation theology” take Christ the Liberator into the public square. In the sight of onlookers, we march in His honor, profess His gift of salvation, and kneel before Him.
We cannot honor enough this pledge of our future happiness in heaven, the Body and Precious Blood of Christ.
I affirm my subjugation to Christ, Victor over death, hell and my sins.
Before the Eucharist, Jesus my God and King, I am content to kneel until with His own hand He raises me.