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.”

 


Incense—What is the reason for using it in Worship

Using incense at Mass                                          pascal-deloche-godong.jpeg

By Larry Peterson

For me, there is something about the smell of freshly burned incense filling the church that is spiritually uplifting. But where did it come from and why do we use it?

The use of incense in religious worship started more than two thousand years before Christianity even began. Recordings of the use of incense in China is documented before 2000 BC aka BCE. The trading of incense and spices was a major economic factor in the trade between east and west when caravans traveled the Middle Eastern Incense Route from Yemen through Saudi Arabia. The route ended in Israel and it was here that it was introduced to the Roman Empire.

Religions in the western world have long used incense in their ceremonies. Incense is noted in the Talmud and is mentioned 170 times in the Bible. (e.g., Exodus 30: 1)

“For burning incense you shall make an altar of acacia wood —“

The use of incense in Jewish worship continued long after the beginning of Christianity and was a definite influence in the Catholic Church’s use of it in liturgical celebrations. The church sees the burning of incense as an image of the prayers of the faithful rising to heaven.  The symbolism is mentioned in Psalm 141:2:

“Let my prayer be incense before you; my uplifted hands an evening offering.”

There is no specific time frame recorded to let us know when incense was introduced into the religious services of the Church. No evidence is available to show its use during the first four centuries of the Church. But there are references to it being used in the New Testament. Luke, in the beginning of his gospel about the birth of John the Baptist writes: 1:10-12:

“Then, when the whole assembly of people were praying outside at the hour of the incense offering, the angel of the Lord appeared to him standing at the right of the altar of incense. Zechariah was troubled by what he saw and fear came upon him.”

Incense is a sacramental used to sanctify, bless, and venerate. The smoke from the incense is symbolic of the mystery of God Himself. As it rises upward the imagery and smell convey the sweetness of Our Lord’s presence and it reinforces how the Mass is linked to Heaven and Earth ending in the very presence of God. The smoke also symbolizes the intense faith that should fill us all and the fragrance is representative of Christian virtue.

The GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal) permits the use of incense at several times during the Mass: The senior altar server who carries the Thurible (the metal container that holds the burning incense) is called the Thurifer. The Thurifer is assisted by a server called the “Boat.” He or she holds the small metal container that holds the incense supply.

At the proper time, they go over to the celebrant and he uses a small spoon to deposit incense onto the burning charcoal inside the Thurible. Then he blesses it without saying anything. (Please note that when something is incensed the thurible is swung three times which represents the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity.

There are different times during the Mass that incense may be used.

  • During the entrance procession
  • At the beginning of Mass to incense the altar and the cross
  • Before the Gospel reading
  • After the bread and the chalice are placed on the altar to incense the offerings, the cross, the altar, the priest, and finally the people.

In addition, incense is used at funerals both in the church at the casket and at the cemetery. It is used on Holy Thursday as the Blessed Sacrament is put in repose. And during the Easter Vigil, five grains of incense are placed into the Paschal Candle.

Finally, let us go to the Book of Revelation 8:3-4

“Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer (thurible). He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones on the gold altar which was before the throne. The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel.”

Yes, there can be no doubt;  the use of incense is deeply rooted in our Catholic heritage.

              copyright©Larry Peterson 2018