The Eucharist leads us
On the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord, commonly known to us as Corpus Christi Sunday, we are, in a certain sense, taken back to Holy Thursday. The Church, once again, celebrates the commemoration of the institution of the Most Holy Eucharist.
A person sitting in the pew might well ask, “Father, why do we have a second feast observing the Lord giving us the Eucharist?” Rev. Pius Parsch, in his commentary on the liturgical year, The Church’s Year of Grace, says “Holy Thursday, assuredly, marks the anniversary of the institution, but the commemoration of the Lord’s Passion that very night suppresses the rejoicing proper to the occasion. Today’s observance, therefore, accents the joyous aspect of Holy Thursday.” In a sense, what we celebrate on that Thursday during Holy Week is just too much to celebrate. Holy Thursday overflows with the divine life of God’s grace, which is too abundant for a single day.
This year the Church celebrates this beautiful and joy-filled solemnity on June 14. In the Sacred Liturgy for this day, the Church invites each of us to pause and prayerfully consider the sacrifice and self-gift that are contained in the gift that Our Lord has left us as a memorial of His Passion.
The celebration of the Body and Blood of Christ is accompanied by a Eucharistic procession, “a public witness of faith and worship of the Most Blessed Sacrament.” If we simply thumb through the pages of the Old Testament, we can easily recognize the presence of processions in the life of the Jewish people. The Jews marched in procession through the desert on the way to the promised land. They processed around the walls of Jericho before it fell. Specifically, as Christians, we see how the Holy Spirit processes from the Father and the Son and into the hearts of the faithful, and how Christ takes on our flesh and proceeds to enter into our fragile humanity.
On the Feast of Corpus Christi and in the procession with our Eucharistic Lord, we celebrate the sacrament of God’s presence in our world, and we are reminded in a manifest way of our shared, common pilgrimage to heaven, the promised land for all who have faith in Christ. The Eucharistic procession is a prayerful and edifying act of the entire Church. The opportunity to worship, adore, and follow our Lord should serve as a powerful moment of reflection for all of us as we ponder the centrality of the Eucharist in our lives. Moreover, it should also lead us to prayerfully consider the ministry of priests and the central role they serve in bringing the Eucharist to the people entrusted to their care, as well as the need for more young men who are devoted to the service of Christ’s flock.
As we follow Christ in procession, take a moment to remember all of those priests who have accompanied you on your spiritual journey toward eternal life with God — thank Him! Use those moments to pray for your parish priest who, by his ministry, has brought you the Eucharist. Finally, pray for young men, specifically from your parish, who might be called to serve Christ as his priest. Accompany these young men by your prayers, tell them that you are praying for their vocation, and encourage them along their journey of discernment.