Jesus Christ in the Holy Mass is the very source and summit of our faith. Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, also known as Corpus Christi, Latin for “Body of Christ.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1323 reads: “At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet „in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.‟”
This solemnity is of such wonderful importance, and is of such significance in how we should prepare for the reception of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, that the “sequence” is read or sung after the second reading. The “sequence” is an ancient form of prayer that highlights the sacredness of this solemnity, as it did for the solemnities of Easter and Pentecost. Below is a sampling of today‟s sequence and how it highlights the awesome responsibility on our part to worship God fervently and receive Christ with worthy souls.
Laud, O Zion, your salvation, Laud with hymns of exultation, Christ, your king and shepherd true:
Bring him all the praise you know, He is more than you bestow. Never can you reach his due.
Special theme for glad thanksgiving is the quick’ning and the living, Bread today before you set:
From his hands of old partaken, As we know, by faith unshaken, Where the Twelve at supper met…
What he did at supper seated, Christ ordained to be repeated, His memorial ne’er to cease.
And his rule for guidance taking, Bread and wine we hallow, making thus our sacrifice of peace.
This the truth each Christian learns, Bread into his flesh he turns, to this precious blood the wine…
Blood is poured and flesh is broken, Yet in either wondrous token, Christ entire we know to be.
Whoso of this food partakes, Does not rend the Lord nor breaks; Christ is whole to all that taste.
Thousands are, as one, receivers, One, as thousands of believers, Eats of him who cannot waste.
Bad and good the feast are sharing, Of what divers dooms preparing, Endless death, or endless life.
Life to these, to those damnation, See how like participation, Is with unlike issues rife…
Lo! The angel’s food is given, To the pilgrim who has striven; See the children’s bread from heaven, which on dogs may not be spent.
Truth the ancient types fulfilling, Isaac bound, a victim willing, Paschal lamb, its lifeblood spilling, manna to the fathers sent.
Very bread, good shepherd, tend us, Jesu, of your love befriend us, you refresh us, you defend us, Your eternal goodness send us, In the land of life to see…Amen. Alleluia.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church instructs us: Par. 1415: “Anyone who desires to receive Christ in the Eucharistic communion must be in the state of grace. Any-one aware of having sinned mortally must not receive communion without having received absolution in the sacrament of penance.”
Par. 1416: “Communion with the Body and Blood of Christ increases the communicant‟s union with the Lord, forgives his venial sins, and preserves him from grave sins. Since receiving this sacrament strengthens the bonds of charity between the communicant and Christ, it also reinforces the unity of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ.”
Peace in our Eucharistic Lord,
Fr. Thomas McCabe