Corpus Christi

This year we celebrated Corpus Christi on Thursday the 26th of May. Corpus Christi which in English translates as the Body (Corpus) of Christ (Christi), serves us as a good reminder of what is central in our Catholic Faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that: “The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life. The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God’s action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit.” So after we have reflected on the Church’s teaching about the Eucharist, it makes sense to reflect on how the feast started, as a celebration in liturgical calendar. The idea of a feast in memory of Christ’s Body was initiated by St Juliana of Mont Cornillon, in Belgium. Juliana from her youth had great veneration for the Blessed Sacrament, and always longed for a special feast in its honor. Later on, she made her idea known to Robert de Thearete, then Bishop of Liege, to the learned Dominican Hugh, later cardinal legate in the Netherlands, and to Jacques Vantaleon, at that time Archdeacon of Liege, afterwards Bishop of Verdun, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and finally Pope Urban IV. Th most famous theologian in the Catholic Church history, St Thomas Aquinas, wrote the liturgy for Corpus Christi when Pope Urban IV added the solemnity in the liturgical calendar. The sequence for Corpus Christi is Lauda Sion Salvatorem. In addition to writing this sequence St Thomas also wrote a hymn: Pange Lingua. His hymn for Matins, Sacris Solemniis (Sacred Solemnity) include the great Panis Angelicus. Saint John Paul 2, wrote an encyclical on the Holy Eucharist, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, apart from presenting the Catholic Doctrine on the Eucharist, the first Polish pope, also praised St Thomas Aquinas contribution to Corpus Christi by writing: “Let us make our own the words of Saint Thomas Aquinas, an eminent theologian and an impassioned poet of Christ in the Eucharist, and turn in hope to the contemplation of that goal to which our hearts aspire in their thirst for joy and peace”. In the end may we all remember that Corpus Christi is a time for us to contemplate on Christ’s love for mankind.

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