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, Thursday, is the Feast of Corpus Domini, or Corpus Christi.  In the post-Conciliar Missal’s calendar today is also Corpus Christi.

In the Novus Ordo many people will observe Corpus Christi on Sunday, which ensures that more people will 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 a comparatively new development: it was established in the 13th century.

In any event, there can be “external” celebration of Corpus Christi on Sunday in the Extraordinary Form as well.

ASIDE: Attached above 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 from Hell 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. There is also the deep influence of Summorum Pontificum, which is spurring a recovery of our patrimony.  The customs of Corpus Christi processions, Forty Hours Devotion, and Eucharistic Adoration seem to be 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, or authentic “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.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

  1. Back pew sitter says:

    Beautiful. What a lovely reflection on iugum. Thank you.

  2. Former Altar Boy 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. We are urbane adults, not child-like peasants below a father or feudal master.”
    I’m sure that if Our Lord appeared before us, we would be driven to our knees if not flat on our faces out of the sheer awesomeness of His majesty.

  3. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Since you posted about Corpus Christi here, I hope this is a welcome observation.

    Today, after Low Mass with Organ since we’re celebrating the External Solemnity on Sunday, we had Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. During the Exposition, we sang — for the first time — the Office of None. It seemed like the right thing to do, to honor the day. Once a month, we sing Vespers. I hope the practice catches on.

  4. Andreas says:

    Here in Austria and in nearby Bavaria, Corpus Christi was celebrated on Thursday. It is a national religious holiday with most businesses and governing bodies closed. Holy Mass was celebrated at 0830 and was followed by a procession throughout our village. Our wonderful Father Simon (now 83) carried the Monstrance under the canopy to three different stations where beautiful altars had been erected. The Musikkapelle and woman’s choir from two villages provided the music during the procession to each station and many from our village and that our our neighbors across the river participated. Happily, the expression of our Catholic faith remains alive and vibrant here in the Austrian countryside, not only on Corpus Christi, but every day throughout the year.

  5. Henry Edwards says:

    “In the Novus Ordo many people will observe Corpus Christi on Sunday”

    As will many in the extraordinary form, where after the Mass and Office of Corpus Christi have been duly celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday—the EF Feast of Corpus Christi NEVER EVER being transferred from its proper Thursday—the Mass of Corpus Christi (but not its Office) is repeated as an external solemnity on the following Sunday, which is (and remains) the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost with its own Office. From the 2017 FSSP Ordo:

    From Matters Liturgical by Wuest-Mullaney-Barry [Frederick Pustet Company (Inc.), New York and Cincinnati, 1959]. Regarding the Feast of Corpus Christi when it falls on a week day, 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 Sundays 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 should follow the Mass.

    Thus it appears that the Mass of Corpus Christi not only may, but must (in the U.S.) be celebrated on the following Sunday (though the Office of the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost is said).

    QUAERITUR: Does this imply that EF celebration this Sunday of the Mass of the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost is actually improper in the U.S.?

    [That Indult of 1885 is a pretty old source though it is reprinted in a book from 1959. To be sure I would want to see if this was verified along the way with the changes to the calendar before 1962. But that’s a fairly sound indicator. Would the Sunday after Pentecost be wrong? I don’t think so. After all, that’s the Sunday.]