WDTPRS: Corpus Christi – I affirm my subjugation to Christ vanquisher of hell and my sins.

In the traditional Roman calendar for the 1962 Missale Romanum today is the Second Sunday after Pentecost.  In the Novus Ordo many people are celebrating Corpus Christi today, which is really suppose to fall on the Thursday before.  This gives more people a chance to participate.  I don’t object as much to the transference of Corpus Christi to Sunday as I do to the appalling removal of Ascension Thursday to Sunday.  Ascension Thursday is, after all, Scriptural and of very ancient observance.  Corpus Christi is relatively new, modern even: it comes only from the 13th century.

ASIDE: Attached 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.

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.


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.

Technorati Tags: , ,

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Classic Posts, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to WDTPRS: Corpus Christi – I affirm my subjugation to Christ vanquisher of hell and my sins.

  1. wanda says:

    Wonderful. Thank you, Fr. Z.

    Increase my faith, dear Jesus in thy real presence here, and make me fell most deeply, that thou to me art near.

    (Oh Lord, I am Not Worthy)

  2. wanda says:

    ..and make me feel most deeply…

    Sorry about that.

  3. Joseph-Mary says:

    Please pray for my parish (St. Joseph) which will be having adoration sign up this weekend. We have one day a week and then a First Friday nocturnal adoration. We have 2500 families but struggle to fill our adoration time. My pastor has agreed to preach about this and there are sign up cards in the pews.

    We will have our first Eucharistic Procession!
    Requests for 40 Hours has yet to come to fruition but will keep trying. This devotion of adoration is not one in which our good pastor or the staff take part in so the effort to encourage folks to come to adoration is not high priority for them….often I think not even on the radar as the times when adoration is cancelled or shortened and they forget to let the adorers know.

    May Eucharistic Adoration of Our Lord grow throughout the whole world!

  4. Gratias says:

    “We stand and take rather than kneel and receive.”

    You are a teacher for our times Father Z. Thank you.

  5. Supertradmum says:

    One of your most profound posts–thank you.

    The yoke is an invitation to enter into the mystery of the suffering of Christ. He allowed Himself to b yoked to us in His Humanity. And, are not married people yoked? So, too, one is yoked to the Bridegroom, Christ.

    Love for love, even if we have been very imperfect understanding…

  6. NoraLee9 says:

    ” We mustn’t crawl in submission before God anymore. We won’t grovel in archaic triumphal processions or kneel as if before some king. “. I was born in 1959, which means I was a teen in the 70′s and didn’t reach anything approaching sanity until 1990. I gave St. Augustine a run for the money. I need to kneel and grovel and be prostrate before the king. I know exactly how sinful I was (and am) and I don’t want to get tossed into Hell.

  7. Imrahil says:

    I can’t understand the nonsense about not wanting to kneel as before a king or to be triumphalist. Anybody wants to be triumphalist (not without reason even the innovators treated triumphalism, to large extent wrongly, to some very much smaller extent than they thought perhaps rightly, as a temptation to be avoided, not as something we resent). Some may think it wise not to have a king for fear of tyranny (and some might disagree), but everybody loves at least the splendor of monarchy. Just look at tabloid newspapers.

    That said, I fancy (dear @NoraLee9) there’s something wrong somewhere if this kneeling is linked with sin and fear. Rather, I fancy, it should be linked with our human nature which God created good, and which God created to serve (and praise) him.

    Man was made to kneel down for absolution; but for the telling-off, he ought to rather stand at attention. (Namely, to be in a posture that, by its very bodily nature, will make him keep self-respect.)

  8. ssurrencty says:

    I think that most of this not kneeling nonsense was based on the the early 20th century return to the “archaic.” Everything medieval was seen to be bad. Everything before that was seen to be pristine and pure. The kneeling, hand-folding, incense-bearing medieval ages got their pomp from the feudal times which were all seen as bad. One problem with this reading of church history is that it is ahistorical- it ignores how we as a people have been historically formed. As a Westerners, our society has in fact passed through the medieval period. That long, rich period of time, formed the west as a culture. It shapes our imagination, our emotion, and our interpretation of events and actions. My 4-year-old daughter can tell you all about kings, ladies, knights, and pageants all because it has become part of who we are as Western people. Thus, to return to a form of worship that is pre-medieval is to ignore the rich reality of semiotic possibility that developed during the period. Kneeling no longer means what it meant at the Council of Nicea. Standing no longer means what it mean to Saint Cyprian. Having been through the medieval period, we developed a way to show greater reverence, indeed love- we kneel. We show obedience, devotion, everything my daughter can tell you kneeling means, by kneeling. Standing shows respect- but in a very democratic way. We are not Christ’s equals. Standing isn’t appropriate.

    A second reason that this return to archaism is incorrect is that it ignores the Spirit’s role in guiding the church through the medieval period. Just as we must remind Protestants that the Holy Spirit didn’t stop guiding the Church right after the death of the Apostles, so must we remind those crypto-protestants who think that the Spirit left us as soon as the Vandals sacked Rome. The medieval symbolism with which the Mass has been clothed is not useless accretion. It is lead by the Spirit. Of course, it is always open to reform. Of course, the liturgy can change organically over time. It can develop. It should do so, however, without rupture.

    Bring on the processions, the candles, the honor guards, the elaborate humeral veils, and the Latin chants. We offer God our best- pitiful as it is. We do so in the way that our history has taught us.

  9. pinoytraddie says:

    From what I Read about the Mass,I Believe the Prayer encourages us to Approach the Wedding Feast so as to Renew Our Duties and Oblations being the Church Militant.for if we leave the Banquet without promising to Obey the Commands Given(Readings and the Homily)then Our Communions are Naught and Lukewarm.

  10. truthfinder says:

    I believe this is a reposting from last year? Regardless, thank you. I have had the last set of lines pinned on my computer screen for the last year, and read them frequently. It’s will also be a handy response if anyone asks why I receive on the tongue (and God give me the strength) to start receiving kneeling at OF Masses, as well as why I don’t stand until everyone has finished receiving their Communion.

  11. 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.

    It was a very odd conclusion for churchmen to arrive at in the wake of two world wars, the Korean War, the Stalin regime, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and other, similar atrocities that left hundreds of millions dead. It shows how deeply the rot of modernism had penetrated.

  12. Charles E Flynn says:

    Here is a good short video that dispels several misconceptions about the middle ages:
    VIDEO: In Defense of the Middle Ages, by Prof. Anthony Esolen.

  13. Kathleen10 says:

    Well put Fr. Z. Amen to that.

  14. “In the Novus Ordo many people are celebrating Corpus Christi today”

    As are many in TLM communities, in accordance with he 2013 FSSP Ordo provision as follows:

    Regarding the Feast of Corpus Christi when it falls on a weekday, it is still celebrated on that week day. In addition, “the external solemnity of the feast must be transferred in the United States and celebrated on the following Sunday, when this feast falls on a week day (Indult of Nov. 25, 1885). Hence, where on Sundays the principal Mass is usually a sung Mass, on the Sunday following this feast this sung Mass in churches and public oratories must, and in semi-public oratories may, be of the transferred external solemnity (S.R.C. 2974, IV; 4269, IX).” A procession of the Blessed Sacrament must follow the Mass.

    Reading at face value, it might even appear a violation of this provision to celebrate the Mass of the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost instead of the external solemnity of Corpus Christi in a community with only a single Sung Mass on Sunday. Or is it?

  15. Joe in Canada says:

    St Juliana used to be in the Jesuit Calendar of Saints due to her promotion of this feast.

  16. Bastiat Fan says:


    I will indeed pray for your parish. I actually participate in my parish’s Eucharistic Adoration on the first Friday of each month. (My “shift” is 10:00 p.m. Friday.) I’ve found it very meaningful and rewarding to spend some time in the physical presence of our Lord.

  17. Robbie J says:

    I’m a little confused here, Father Z… about your mention of the ‘removal’ of Ascension Thursday to the following Sunday. In my country, Ascension Thursday has always been a holy day of obligation for as long as I can remember. The churches would all be full; to the brim. The same goes for the feast of the Assumption and All Saints Day. Isn’t that so where you live?

  18. vetusta ecclesia says:

    The prevalent attitude to the Middle Ages was to be seen in the Olympic opening last year – the historical period that gave England its monarchy, parliament, legal institutions and universities was ignored. Instead we had straw-chewing yokels waiting for the Industrial Revolution and later the NHS to make everything OK.

  19. Tony McGough says:

    Thanks, Father Z. Well said. There can be no nobler posture than to kneel before the King.

    We are off this afternoon to do just that, in front of the Sacrament in union with the Pope. Maybe this is the sort of item that could get into your “Good News” slot – people round the world praying like that! Next thing we know, we might well be doing penance too!

  20. frahobbit says:

    It was with some sadness that I see the USCCB maintain the late-afternoon Corpus Christi processions when the Pope tried so hard, “calling far-flung” churches to ensure their simultaneous celebration with the hour of adoration in Rome today 5-6 pm. ‘In order to maintain their Sunday schedules’, per Catholic New York. Even St. Patrick’s is waiting till after the 5.30 pm Mass. Why do they think the Pope is calling? What a waste of a glorious opportunity! so that Americans’ recreation for today need not be inconvenienced.

  21. I am happy to report that my cathedral parish observed the Holy Hour, with the Sacrament of Love enthroned on the altar in a beautiful, ruby-studded monstrance, surrounded by candles. It had a palpable effect on the atmosphere inside the cathedral.

  22. Athelstan says:

    Having attended Corpus Christi at a solemn high TLM on Thursday, and again at my Ordinariate parish (which must use the new three year lectionary of the N.O.) today, I’m struck as I rarely am by the differences between the readings in the old one year lectionary and the new three year lectionary.

    The lectionary doesn’t just stop with tacking on the Old Testament reading (Gen. 14:18-20). It also truncates the Epistle (I Cor. 11:23-29, where St. Paul warns against receiving communion unworthily) and completely tosses out the Gospel (John 6:56-9, the classic exposition of the Eucharist by Christ) and replaces them with a truncation of I Corinthians 11 that cuts out the warning against unworthy reception, and for the Gospel, the feeding of the 5,000 in Luke.

    It’s hard to find much clearer examples of the new theological emphasis sought by the Consilium in their construction of the new lectionary.