Card. Cañizares: Observe Corpus Christi on Thursday, not Sunday.

One can understand why people might think it a good idea to transfer feast days which fall during the middle of the week to a Sunday observance.  More people can participate in them, right?

On the other hand, the transferal of a feast in that way also tells people that they don’t have to make any provisions to worship God or order their lives, even in part, to the rhythm of the year of grace.

And on  a mundane but important level, parishes lose a collection.

From Zenit with my emphases and comments.

Liturgy Official Backs Return of Corpus Christi to Thursday

Notes Desire That Christians Proclaim Christ’s Presence

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2011 ( The prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments says he thinks the feast of Corpus Christi should be returned to its traditional Thursday celebration, to better highlight the link with Holy Thursday and show how Christ is the center of everything.

Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera spoke to Vatican Radio about the feast, celebrated in many countries last Sunday, but traditionally marked on the Thursday before, as it still is in Rome.

“I think that to exalt the feast of Corpus Christi on its own, separate from Sunday, would be a very joyful and very hopeful reality, which would mean saying to all people in mid week that Christ is truly the center of everything,” he said.

Corpus Christi is lived as an obligatory day to attend Mass in countries where it is celebrated on Thursday, such as Mexico.

In countries where the feast is moved to the Sunday following, the celebration is combined with normal weekend Masses.

Shining more than the sun

Cardinal Canizares proposed that if the feast is lived intensely, even if on Sunday, the time will not be far off when “Corpus Christi will be celebrated again on Thursday, as it was historically, which evokes, in some way, Maundy Thursday.”

The 65-year-old Spanish cardinal also referred to an adage that reflects the popular tradition in Spain of celebrating the feast of the Eucharist: “There are three Thursdays in the year that shine more than the sun: Corpus Christi, Maundy Thursday and Ascension Thursday.” [And so, we should also start observing the Ascension on THURSDAY.  Otherwise, let’s just transfer Christmas to Sunday and have done. We already do that, incredibly, with Epiphany, which was in the history of these feasts, in many ways more important that Christmas.]

In the majority of Spanish cities today the feast of Corpus Christi is celebrated on Sunday; the preceding Thursday is a working day.

However, some local churches, such as Toledo, Seville and Granada celebrated the feast on Thursday.

“My personal wish has been for a long time that we return to Corpus Christi Thursday,” said the former archbishop of Toledo and primate of Spain.

For the cardinal, this feast means “to recognize that God is here.” To go out in procession through the streets with the Most Holy Sacrament is an invitation to adore the Lord, a public confession of faith in him and an acknowledgment that to go “with the Lord is what truly matters for the renewal and transformation of society.”

“It is a day of very great joy, especially in Spain,” he recalled. The cardinal noted his hope that all Christians would proclaim “that Christ is present in the Eucharist, that Christ is with us.”

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  1. JohnMa says:

    Could the Cardinal not take care of this with one swoop of his pen?

  2. digdigby says:

    Something about the celebration of Corpus Christi brings out the ‘local genius’, for instance this is
    Cuzco, Peru:
    This not-very-ancient celebration deserves a lot of human leeway, variation, flexible time-tables and JOY.
    My traditional oratory celebrates on Sunday. If nothing else, it is a kindness to the fathers of our many large families who’s work days can’t bear much ‘tampering’.
    In a Catholic culture, of course Thursday will be a holiday for everyone. As for Europe, it is no longer even a “Christian’ culture.

  3. APX says:

    On the other hand, the transferal of a feast in that way also tells people that they don’t have to make any provisions to worship God or order their lives, even in part, to the rhythm of the year of grace.

    Had I not been a reader here I wouldn’t have even known it was time for Corpus Christi. There’s no procession in my city, nor was “Corpus Christi” even mentioned on Sunday, or that it was supposed to be observed as a feast day.

    I hadn’t heard of Corpus Christi until I moved to Lethbridge on year and one of their younger priests, who was from Mexico, organized their first procession. I think they had one for two years, maybe three, but when he was re-assigned to another city, no one kept it going. Given that Corpus Christi occurs after I move in the Summer I have yet to ever be part of one of these processions.

  4. kat says:

    I found it interesting in our Corpus Christi sermon, given by a Spanish priest, to learn that Corpus Christi is a holy day of obligation in other parts of the world and celebrated in a BIG way; but the American Catholics asked that it not be a holy day in the U.S. so as not to make as big a deal out of it and offend the Protestants (at the time the Catholics were not the most popular group in the U.S…remember “Irish Catholics need not apply” and WASP groups, the KNow-Nothings, and other anti-Catholic groups.)
    But how sad!

  5. Banjo pickin girl says:

    apx, in the Novus Ordo calendar Corpus Christi is called The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. My NO parish has a procession around our city block after the noon Mass.

  6. BaedaBenedictus says:

    Remember, friends, it is only the Cardinal’s “personal wish”, so feel free to ignore it.

    I should like to see the Holy See come up with a list of “Non-Transferable Solemnities” and require that they be celebrated on the proper days as they are in Rome, “to emphasize the unity of the Latin Church in all Her diversity.”

    Is it not sad that in one diocese a great feast is celebrated on a Thursday, while in the neighboring diocese it is celebrated three days later? One time after Easter, I was traveling, and I MISSED the feast of the Ascension because on Thursday I was in a diocese which transferred it to Sunday and on Sunday I was in a diocese which kept it on Thursday!

  7. Byzcat says:

    Back in the 1970’s I read a pamphlet by a conservative university professor as part of the resurgent conservative movement on college campuses the dealt with the desacralization of the West. He then pointed out that one of the symptoms of this desacralization is the tendency of the Church to accommodate the people rather than expecting people to place God in the proper place in their lives. This has taken place in the political realm as well. In the past, the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln were celebrated as public holidays. Now, in the interest of commerce, holidays are moved or ignored. It is not surprising that people do not take feast days seriously when the Church is always seeking to make it easier for people to fulfill their obligations. The end result is that the people no longer perceive any value in the sacred. It is too easy to practice the faith. “It’s all about us anyway, isn’t it? ” The warning to the Laodiceans about lukewarmness is certainly appropriate today. The practice of the Faith should cost us something. It cost our Lord everything.

  8. Ed the Roman says:

    I hate translation. Something is always lost in it.

  9. Geoffrey says:

    I don’t mind Corpus Christi being transferred to a Sunday (my preference would actually be to do what is done in the Extraordinary Form: observe the feast twice!). I wish the Holy See would put its foot down regarding two feasts, though: the Epiphany and the Ascension. It makes no sense to move those to Sundays!

  10. disco says:

    In Boston and I’m sure in many if not most (all?) of the dioceses of the USA, if a holy day of obligation falls on a Saturday or a Monday it is no longer obligatory. I personally find that to be awful. As it stands, I prefer Corpus Christi to be moved to the Sunday in the US, at least unless and until it is made a holy day of obligation here in the states. At my parish its been our practice to have a procession following the Sunday mass and holy day masses are at 7:30 at night on weekdays. That is not the ideal time for an outdoor procession.

  11. Sadly, the article was wrong about Corpus Christi being celebrated on Thursday. It is celebrated on Sunday in Rome, because Italy has transferred the feast. It is celebrated on Thursday only in Vatican City, and the extraterritorial Papal Basilicas – hence the procession from St. John Lateran to St. Mary Major.

    I recently had a wonder about Holy Days, since I read an article that there used to be 36 on the Universal Calendar until Pius X (I was wondering what they were – does anyone know?), and I read the article in Wikipedia, which lists them by country. I think the USA is doing pretty good, compared to the rest of the Anglosphere. Although I found it interesting the UK marks Sts. Peter and Paul, and we in the USA don’t.

    I did discover the USA always transferred Epiphany (or at least it wasn’t a Holy Day of Obligation), even in the 19th century. I think even if it isn’t a Holy Day, it should be observed on January 6th (we could argue it was an ecumenical move, since that is when Episcopalians and Lutherans do it).

    Corpus Christi has also always been transferred in countries where it wasn’t a public holiday (so no use blaming Vatican II). The public holiday aspect is also interesting in Germany, where “Holy Day of Obligation” isn’t quite the right term. Its a holiday, and if its not a state holiday, it is not a day of obligation. Which adds the interesting twist that Easter Monday and Pentecost Monday are HDO’s in Germany! And of course, St. Patrick is a HDO in Ireland.

    And BaedaBenedictus’s story about he Ascension is one of the saddest liturgical stories I have heard. I remember when the transfer happened, several priests on one listserv argued that ALL Holy Days should be transferred, because they were a burden on the faithful. Very sad.

  12. Dr. Eric says:

    I’m really starting to wonder if the higher ups in the Church actually believe in the Catholic Faith. If one really believed, one would make sure he did everything possible to fight for that Faith. The debacle in New York state only confirms my suspicions. So, why not move every Feast to Sunday; wink at the Catholics who couldn’t even be bothered to go to Mass except for Christmas, Easter, and Ash Wednesday (for some reason); keep watching “reality TV” and then give lip service to the fact that we are losing the culture war far after The Enemy is halfway through his next scheme.

    The Su Wen (The “Basic Questions” from the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine [circa 200 B.C.]) has a statement which, although it deals with medicine, is apt for the Catholic Church: “Is it not too late to treat once disease is fully developed, to treat when chaos is already brewed? This is like digging a well only after one is thirsty, or forging a warrior’s spear only after the fight has begun!”

    It’s all too little, too late. We need a major overhaul. We need to reclaim our traditions and we need to let our lights shine again in the public square instead of hiding them under a bushel basket.

    Bring back the traditional Holy Days of Obligation. Bring back the Ember Days and Rogation Days. Bring back the traditional days of fasting and abstinence. Bring back our Catholic identity.

  13. Stephen D says:

    I have just attended evening Mass on what is in England a Holyday of Obligation. This parish is large and the large church is nearly filled at each of the three Sunday Masses. The priest congratulated the 44 of us present (he counted us) for remembering the feast day. The priests had given a verbal reminder at all the Masses last Sunday and it was pointed out in the newsletter! The idea of having to attend Mass other than on a Sunday or Christmas day appears to be eccentric here.

  14. Imrahil says:

    I kind of like it to have a general celebration of the whole city (Holy Mass plus Corpus Christi Procession) on Corpus Christi itself and then again a parish celebration, Holy Mass plus Corpus Christi procession, on Corpus Christi Sunday. The first is the real big thing, the second has at least Voluntary Firefighters as a sort of guard of honor to the Holy of Holies.
    Of course, as to holidays in existence I live in a remnant of Paradise; may the Lord make me feel approximate sufficiently thankful.

    There are three Thursdays in the year that shine more than the sun.
    I wonder what could be done about the sentence by translating it into German. “There are three Thundersdays in the year that thunder more than the sun burns…”? Excuse the rant. Anyway, no, Maundy Thursday does not shine more than Easter Sunday (which is the one apt for comparison).

  15. Tina in Ashburn says:

    If the Church keeps taking away days of obligation, and moving any remaining holy days to Sunday, the next step obviously is removing the obligation of Sunday. What’s not to understand?

    Time to go back to honoring God, His saints, and wondrous occurrences before we lose it all. Bring back our holy days!

  16. Imrahil says:

    Dear @CharleyCollins,

    the Bull Universa per orbem of Pope Urban VIII – which was, believe it or not, a reduction of holidays (but I grant that such was then needed) had: Christmas, Circumscision, Epiphany, Easter (three days), Ascension, Pentecost (three days), Most Holy Trinity (which is always a Sunday of course), Corpus Christi; Lady Day, Candlemas, Assumption, Birth of Mary; Invention of the Holy Cross (according to my source; I do wonder whether this would rather mean “Exaltation”); all feasts of the Apostles (secondaries such as Cathedra Petri excluded); All Saints, Michaelmas, Sts. Joseph, Stephen, Anna, Laurentius, Silvester, Holy Innocents; the main patron of the respective kingdom, city or village.

    I wonder about All Souls; even today we hear around here that “it used to be a holiday”. I also remember being told that Church Dedication used to be celebrated with three or at least two days (which led King Maximilian II of Bavaria to fix them to the third Sunday of October to reduce the, well, kermisses). Also, I think pretty much all what should in the meantime be upgraded to what we now call solemnities (“double of the first class”) was a HDO.

  17. Imrahil says:

    But there is a problem with reintroducing. The thing is: A holiday is much of a burden and little of a holiday if there is no holiday. It is that easy. (The German public-HDO equalization under whose influence I write has already been mentioned.) We might think of a “half obligation” (Mass plus work), but then I do think it’d be a good idea to put this on an easy conscience.

    Well, this is the one thing. To so important holidays, those who go to Church all Sunday may be expected to appear in vast majority, or might if they were told there was a solemnity, and the time is convenient after the day’s work is over; as they also appear on Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday (at least for Stations of the Cross). The question is then do we want them fixed into the Sunday rhythm, for the sake of the few very unfortunate who have no time, or the other few who appear always but only when they must. In this, we ought not to neglect remember that to fix a solemnity into the Sunday rhythm means to abolish it in feeling as a holiday; if it remains within the week, it may still be felt as something special for those who do attend even though they work on the day.

    Please allow me humbly to rant that if I were American, I’d think it a good idea if Congress made some ecumenically-acceptable Christian holidays, such as Epiphany or Ascension. It’s a how-many-percent Christian country under God…? (Yes, I’ve learned in school that America is different and your concept of separation of Church and State includes no holidays except Christmas, etc.)

    Also, since there are very fine Masses of thanksgiving to God for the year’s harvest, I know a religious holiday with the quality of public holiday the Americans could turn HDO.

  18. Imrahil says:

    Dear @digdigby,

    I might think that there could be reasons not so easily to follow your position that

    Europe (as a whole!) is no longer even a “Christian’ culture.

    You have said this about a Continent which includes Italy, Poland and Ireland, and about the culture, i. e. not following Christian morality (with special inclusion of the Sunday precept), not believing the tenets of faith and reason-in-support (including that these are worth pondering, and that they can’t be uphold as “something valuable” if rejected), but culture, which is what is the the “we’ll do that just the way we’ve always done it” comes in.

  19. Imrahil says:

    which is what is behind the “we’ll do” etc. when it comes in.


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