Matters Liturgical: June 2010 Archives

This Day Was Chosen

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The transfer of the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ to Sunday by the Bishops of the United States is unfortunate; it effectively dismantles the mystagogy of the feast by detaching it from its native theological context on Thursday.

Just as the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is celebrated on a Friday, inviting us to return to Calvary, there to look upon the pierced Side of the Lord in the company of Our Lady and the Beloved Disciple, so too does the feast of Corpus Christi on a Thursday invite us to return to the Cenacle, there to relive in adoration and joy the gift and mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist. Similarly, the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is celebrated on a Saturday, recalling the Great Sabbath lived by Our Lady who, in her own pierced Heart, kept alive the flame of the Church's faith and hope.

Listen to the Angelic Doctor:

To the end that devotion may be enkindled in the faithful,
we do well to celebrate this solemnity in honour of the institution
of so health-giving and so wonderful a Sacrament,
that thus we may meetly worship our God
who in this Sacrament is present before our eyes,
although in a manner beyond the power of words to describe;
and that thus we may praise God's power,
whereby in this Sacrament are wrought so many and great wonders;
and also that thus we may give God due thanks
for this his bounteous gift so full of health and sweetness.

It is true that special mention is made of its institution
at the celebration of the Mass on Maundy Thursday,
(when we commemorate the Last Supper, at which, as we know,
this Sacrament was instituted;)
but all the rest of the Office on that day
is chiefly concerned with Christ-Suffering,
to the worshipping of whom the Church doth at that season
give all her mind.

In the year of salvation 1264, to the end that the faithful might celebrate
the institution of so great a Sacrament with a complete festal Office,
Urban IV, Bishop of Rome, was moved by his devotion thereto,
to put forth a godly ordinance,
to the effect that the memory of the said institution
should be celebrated by all the faithful
on the Thursday next after the Octave Day of Pentecost.
This day was chosen in order that we,
who from one end of the year to the other
do use this Sacrament to our soul's health,
might particularly celebrate the institution thereof
at that season wherein the Holy Ghost taught the hearts of the disciples
to acknowledge the mysteries thereof;
for then it was, as we read, that they continued stedfastly
in the Apostles' Doctrine and Fellowship,
and in the Breaking of the Bread and the Prayers.

From a Sermon by Saint Thomas Aquinas
Opusculum 57

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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