Corpus Christi—Taking Jesus public all around the World

Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist

By Larry Peterson

This Day is for putting Jesus on Display

The Bishops of the United States have proclaimed that 2022 is the year for a National Eucharistic Revival. This revival will launch on June 19, 2022, on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. (The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ). It is only fitting that this is the day to launch this campaign.

Pew research has stated that 70 percent of those who say they are Catholic do not believe in the Real Presence. The high percentage is alarming because this is a doctrine of our faith. It states that Christ is truly present, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, under the appearances of bread and wine. During the Holy Mass, this change takes place when the ordained priest consecrates the bread and wine. He does this by saying the words of consecration over the bread and wine; “This is My Body; this is My Blood.” This is doctrinal teaching and the very focal point of our faith.

The sum and summary of our faith

We Catholics even have one day a year dedicated to celebrating the Holy Eucharist. That day is called The Solemnity of Corpus Christi (The Catechism of the Catholic Church #1327 says, this is the sum and summary of our faith). What do we do that is special on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi?  We have processions, and we have had them since the 13th century.

On the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, processions take place worldwide. Pope Francis leads the primary procession. The Holy Father traditionally processes  from the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the  Pope’s Cathedral,  to the Basilica of St. Mary Major.  This year he will be unable to do that. The Holy Father may follow in his wheel chair).  The Holy Eucharist , will be held aloft in the Monstance by the celebarnt for all to see. People will fall to their knees in Adoration. Processions will take place all over the world, including in the United States.

At the beginning of his pontificate, Pope St. John Paul II reinstituted this procession. That was  almost 45 years ago.  When he was Archbishop of Krakow, he had yearly confrontations with communist leaders about restoring Corpus Christi processions. He remembered the processions from when he was a child in Poland. He always wanted to start them again. Once he ascended to the Seat of Peter, he did just that.

Brief Historical background

Pope Urban IV had heard of a  young woman from Belgium named Juliana. Juliana had a deep devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and received private revelations. Along with the help of her confessor, John of Lausanne, she composed a book of prayers to honor the Blessed Sacrament. The local bishop approved the texts, and word of this reached the Pope. He had none other than Thomas Aquinas investigate.

Thomas Aquinas investigates and approves

St. Thomas Aquinas, the man who defined Transubstantiation (CCC #1376), advised the Holy Father that this devotion was heaven-sent. In 1264, the Pope declared the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. It was the first universal feast imposed obligatorily on the entire church by a pope. Aquinas composed many of the texts for Corpus Christi, including the hymns, Adoro te Devote, Pange Lingua (sung traditionally after Holy Thursday Mass, and Tantum Ergo, which is always sung at Benediction.

Ironically, Pope Urban and St. Thomas Aquinas passed away before adding Corpus Christi to the liturgical schedule; Pope Urban IV in 1264 and St. Thomas in 1274. It was not until 1317 that Pope John XXII added it to the church calendar. Since the laity was still not receiving frequent communion, this increased the practice of Adoration. Corpus Christi processions followed.

Soon the Holy Eucharist, contained in a monstrance, was being carried by the priest in procession. The procession began, led by the clergy and followed by the laity. It ended with a Benediction. By the 1600s, the church had put detailed instructions for holding Benediction in place. Eucharistic Adoration can now be traced to the 16th century, with updated guidelines added in 1973.

In his 1980 Holy Thursday letter to priests, Dominicae cenae, Pope John Paul II wrote, “Since the Eucharistic mystery was instituted out of love, and makes Christ sacramentally present, it is worthy of thanksgiving and worship.  And this worship must be prominent in all our encounters with the Blessed Sacrament.”

from St. John Paul II

In 2004, Pope John Paul II issued Mane Nobiscum Domine (Stay with us, Lord). In Number 18 of the document, the Holy Father wrote, “this year let us also celebrate with particular devotion the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, with its TRADITIONAL PROCESSION.  Our faith in the God who took flesh in order to become our companion along the way needs to be everywhere proclaimed, especially in our streets and homes, as an expression of our grateful love and as an inexhaustible source of blessings.

from Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI said, “Corpus Christi processions allow us to “immerse Christ in the daily routine of our lives, so that He may walk where we walk and live where we live.”

Interestingly, there are only five Solemnitys during the year when a bishop is required to remain in his diocese. They are; Christmas, Holy Week, Easter, Pentecost, and Corpus Christi. Maybe it is time to start paying more attention to this essential Solemn Feast.

The Knights of Columbus is spearheading efforts for the National Eucharistic Revival. This Revival will be launched on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi on June 19. Many dioceses and parishes around the country are planning celebrations and processions. You can seek information on preparing for this great feast day by contacting  www.kofc.org

from Pope Francis

Pope Francis says, “praising Him and singing in the streets of our city allows us to express our gratitude for nourishing us with His love through the Sacraments of His Body and Blood.”

 


This 21 year old never stopped smiling as cancer destroyed his body…meet Venerable Nicola D’Onofrio—

Venerable Nicola D’Onofrio                                                         facebook-fair use

By Larry Peterson

Nicola D’Onofrio was born in Villamagna, Italy, on March 24,1943. His father, Giovanni, and his mom, Virginia, had their son baptized three days later in the parish church of St. Mary’s. Nicola’s dad was a successful farmer, but more importantly, he was a man of integrity, honesty, and wisdom, virtues fueled by a deep and abiding Catholic faith. His mom was known for her piety and kindness. Their character traits would be passed on to their son.

As Nicola began to grow the distinct qualities of kindness and peacefulness seemed to be part of whom he was. He made his First Holy Communion on the feast of Corpus Christi in June of 1950.  Three years later, in October of 1953, he received his Confirmation. His teachers and even his classmates invariably spoke or wrote of Nicola’s hard work ethic, his kindness, and his availability to anyone who needed help. No matter the season, he never missed serving at Mass in the morning even though it was a   two-mile walk to the church.

When Nicola was about 10 years old, a priest who belonged to the Order of St. Camillus aka Camillian invited him to consider entering the Camillian Studentate in Rome. Nicola immediately accepted the offer, but his parents felt he was not ready.  His father wanted him to stay at home and take over the family farm, when he grew up. His two unmarried aunts tried to convince him that he was their only heir. However, Nicola, even at his young age, wanted desperately to become a priest.

During the following year, Nicola prayed and studied hard, and by the end of the year, his family gave him permission to enter the Camillian school. The school was for pre-teens to see if they truly displayed signs of having a real vocation. The date he entered the school was October 3, 1955. He was twelve years old, and it was the feast day of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. The Little Flower would later become his spiritual guide.,

During the next six years, Nicola’s character continually manifested a person who was humble, friendly, helpful, and above all, always smiling. He was constantly ready to help others, render words of comfort or understanding, and simply be there when and if needed.

Interestingly, Nicola learned after several years at school that his father had wanted to bring him back home. Nicola wrote him saying he was determined to become a priest in the Camillian Order no matter the cost. His dad humbly relented.

Nicola worked hard and applied himself to his studies, gaining the respect and admiration of his teachers. He wanted to be a worthy priest, and his work ethic evidenced that. On October 7, 1961, and after a period of intense training, Nicola took the vows of Poverty, Chastity, Obedience, and Charity towards the sick, especially those with contagious diseases. These vows were binding for three years. At the end of that period, he would take his final vows as a professed Castillian religious.

It was toward the end of 1962 that first symptoms of cancer that would kill him reared its ugly head. He did not understand the pain he was having, nor why he felt weak. Testing ensued, and following the advice of his superiors and the doctors, he was operated on at the urology department at St. Camillo Hospital in Rome.  The diagnosis came back as positive for Tera-tosarcoma, better known as genital cancer, and it had already begun to metastasize. The date was July 30, 1963.

The pain and suffering increased dramatically over the next year. Weakend and in constant pain young Nicola never stopped praying  and smiling. His Rosary was his constant companion. He  had one desire; he wanted desperately to be able to take his final vows.

A request was sent to Pope Paul VI, and he granted Nicola a special dispensation allowing him to receive these vows. On May 28, 1964, Nicola D’Onofrio consecrated himself to God for life. It was his final act of love. On June 5, the feast of the Sacred Heart, Nicola, fully conscious and completely aware that he was dying, smilingly received the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.

Nicola passed away on June 12, 1964. He was twenty-one years old, and he was surrounded by his family and Camillian brothers. A close family friend who had assisted Nicola throughout his illness remembered his last moments and said, “He seemed to me like Jesus Christ on the Cross, so calm and confident, with prayers on his lips, calling Our Lady ‘Mom.’

Pope Francis declared Nicola D’Onofrio a man of ‘heroic virtue’ and worhty of the title, Venerable,on July 5, 2013.

Venerable Nicola D’Onofrio, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019