Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity: Christ truly and wholly present under the appearance of bread and wine. The Church has believed this mystery from its earliest days. Today we joyfully celebrate in a more profound way the mystery made present at each Mass. But, if we celebrate it at each Mass, why is there a special day set aside for it? While we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday, it is impossible to celebrate it joyfully given the somber nature of the evening which takes place in the shadow of his coming crucifixion.
The origin of today’s feast:
In the early 1200s, Saint Juliana of Liège, had a vision of a full moon, but there was a dark spot in it. Christ showed her in a vision that the dark spot symbolized the fact there was no feast in the liturgical year to specifically honor him in the Blessed Sacrament. She told her bishop, who established a feast in his diocese in 1246. Fifteen years later, that same bishop was elected Pope Urban IV. In 1264, six years after Saint Juliana’s death, Pope Urban IV established the feast of Corpus Christi for the universal Church. He appointed Saint Thomas Aquinas to compose the texts for the Mass and Divine Office of the new feast day. Pope Benedict XVI said of these texts: “They are masterpieces, still in use in the Church today, in which theology and poetry are fused. These texts pluck at the heartstrings in an expression of praise and gratitude to the Most Holy Sacrament, while the mind, penetrating the mystery with wonder, recognizes in the Eucharist the Living and Real Presence of Jesus.” Let us worship our living Lord in the Eucharistic feast!