The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

 

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Today is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, often known as “Corpus Christi”.  You might be thinking, gee, don’t we celebrate the Body and Blood of Christ at every Mass?  Sure, but just as with the Lord’s Resurrection, a particular day is set aside to celebrate and reflect on this aspect of the mystery and saving work of Christ!

The Catechism, no. 1374, quotes both St. Thomas Aquinas and Pope Paul VI in teaching us about the presence of Christ in the Eucharist:

“The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species is unique.  It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as ‘the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend.’  In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist ‘the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.’”

So, to repeat it, BOTH the Body and the Blood of Christ that we receive contain ALL of the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ.  Christ is not just there “beside the bread” (which is a Lutheran belief, consubstantiation – not to be confused with the word consubstantial in our Creed, which is not applied to the Eucharist).  The word that we use for this is TRANSUBSTANTIATION.  The substance of the bread or wine has changed – it is no longer bread or wine!  It only retains the “appearances” (physical qualities) of bread and wine, but it is not bread and wine.

This is a great time to focus on how we approach for the reception of Holy Communion.  Do we show respect for the Eucharistic species?  How do our actions reflect our beliefs?

A couple of reminders on the reception of Holy Communion:

1)      Bow, before both the Body and Blood of Christ.  This still applies even if you are not receiving!  (So don’t just walk past the Blood of Christ like it’s not there.  Is that how you would pass Jesus in the street??)

2)      If you are receiving in the hand, consume the consecrated Host immediately.  Do not walk anywhere with the sacred species. If you drop Him, pick Him up and consume!

3)     The reception of Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue is always permitted!

Finally, another reminder – go to confession! To receive the Most Holy Eucharist, one should be in a state of grace. If it is not possible to get to confession, make a perfect act of contrition before reception, and then go to confession!  How amazing and awesome the endless mercy of God…chalice

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The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

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In my last post, I began sharing a series of articles to look at basic definitions of words that we should know as Catholics. Maybe we forgot, it has been too long since religious education classes, or perhaps we never learned them in the first place, as catechesis over the last 40 or so years has not been emphasized.

We defined the word Liturgy, which is not necessarily synonymous with Mass. The Liturgy is the celebration of the Paschal Mystery of Christ, in public worship of God, and brings about the sanctification of mankind. The Mass is one type of Liturgy. So, then, what is the Mass?

The Mass is the celebration of the Eucharist, which is the very sacrifice of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. We celebrate it in the manner instituted by Christ, which he entrusted to the Church as a memorial of his death and resurrection. It is not merely a memorial, however, because his sacrifice is actually made present for us. It is the exercise of the priestly office of Christ, for the glorification of God and the sanctification of our souls.

The usual celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass can take place according to the different Rites of the Church. At my parish, we celebrate the Roman Rite, of which there are two forms: the Ordinary Form (which we use, in its English translation) and the Extraordinary Form (sometimes known as the Traditional Latin Mass). 

Since the Mass is only one kind of Liturgy, next time we will look at another type of Liturgy…the Liturgy of the Hours.