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SAINT PHILOMENA MESSENGER APRIL, 2008 A.D.
ISSUE NUMBER 45

CORPUS CHRISTI


At ten o'clock on Sunday the 25th of May this year we will celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi with an High Mass, followed by a street procession of the Blessed Sacrament culminating in Benediction of the Most Holy, something that has not occurred in most parishes for forty years.

What is this "Feast of Corpus Christi"? Why did it "disappear" for so long? Why do certain Bishops and Priests apparently hate it?

WHAT IS CORPUS CHRISTI?

"Corpus Christi" is Latin for "The Body of Christ". The Feast was introduced into the liturgical cycle of the Western Catholic Church by Pope Urban IV in the
Thirteenth Century. The Prayers and hymns of the Mass were written by S. Thomas Aquinas at the request of the Pope.

The Feast-day was established for very good reasons. At this time in the life of the Church many people had lost faith in the Real Presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. They had lost their faith in what Saint Thomas called: "The greatest miracle of the Lord Jesus".

The liturgical celebration "Corpus Christi" was an attempt to restore the faith of both clergy and laity in the Real Presence~ Thus it is that profession of this Holy Faith is made in ceremony and song this day. One recalls particularly the inspiring words of the "Tantum ergo", the two final verses of the hymn "Pange lingua" written by S. Thomas for the Feast:

"Down in adoration falling,
Lo! The Sacred Host we hail.
Lo! o'er ancient forms departing
Newer rites of grace prevail:
Faith for all defects supplying
Where the feeble senses fail"

On this great day the Church encourages Processions of the Holy Eucharist and splendid Benedictions. I well remember as a young student of History at the University of Durham (England), how the streets of this city were closed down on the Feast of Corpus Christi and the Host would be carried in procession accompanied by bands, fireworks and adoration by all (local Protestants induded).

WHY DID IT DISAPPEAR?

All this glory to God was done away with after the disastrous Second Council of the Vatican (1962-65). Apparently, we Catholics were no longer to do anything to offend non-believers, Jews and heretics: Corpus Christi devotions did just that. They were designated "Triumphalism". Therefore they were done away with.

WHY DO CERTAIN BISHOPS AND PRIESTS HATE IT?

At my seminary, 30 years ago, we heard criticism of "Cookie worship". A professor dared to say that we should, in place of saying "I am not worthy to receive You", rather say "I AM worthy to receive you". Man had come of age.
We could now look eyeball to eyeball with Almighty God! After all, we had Coca Cola, sliced bread, space travel, Rock music and free love! Oh, the Hippie generation!

I cannot remember adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in any parish I was associated with in my early years as a Catholic.

Why? Clearly some priests had lost their faith in Our Blessed Lord's presence in the Holy Eucharist, if they ever had it at all. Some gave it up for "Ecumenism", the unity of all Christian Communities and other Faiths, on the basis that the Catholic Church must water down her doctrine that all may "get on together".

More than ten years ago a Gallup poll determined that 65% of "Catholics" no longer believed that they were receiving Jesus Christ at Mass. No wonder, since after Vatican Il nearly all signs of reverence to God at Mass were done away with.

Imagine! Before Vatican II priests searched the Communion paten for tiny fragments of the Host- God. A ritual of reparation accompanied the accidental dropping of the Host -God- on the floor!

The Host was only administered by the anointed hands of a priest to souls un-stained by mortal sin. Communicants knelt in adoration of the God they were to receive. They fasted from midnight to receive their Lord.

Today there is no Communion paten. Priests tell their people "lf He can get into it, He can get out of it". The Host is delivered into the hands of the faithful who pick it out and nibble it like a biscuit. Often it is "wholemeal" because "it is better for the health". This also requires chewing and eventual swallowing.

Lay persons ("Eucharistic Ministers") give out the Sacred Species under both forms. The cup is given into the hands of all, sometimes being spilt on the floor.

Communion is given standing. (A venerable custom of the Eastern Churches, but quite alien to Western tradition, where monarchs are reverenced by their subjects kneeling).

Today, few Catholics confess regularly, if at all. Surely not because they are all saints! Sacrilegious Communions are frequent.

The Eucharistic "fast" is so short that in many cases one could come into church bolting down a MacCholesterol burger and still observe a one hour fast before Communion so long as Father preached more than 15 minutes.

One could go on...

There is a true old saying: "When we no longer act how we believe, we soon begin to believe how we act."

No wonder then that fewer than 35% believe the Lord God to be truly present in the Blessed Sacrament!

lf we cease to behave as persons who believe that Almighty God is present in the Sacred Host we are in danger of losing our faith in His Sacred Presence.

The greatest treasure of the Catholic Church that no Protestant can ever have is the Holy Eucharist; Jesus Christ really present under the appearances of bread and wine. On Corpus Christi we celebrate a wonderful miracle: the priest, be he the greatest saint or the lowest sinner, acting in the place of Christ, brings God down to earth on the altar, converting bread and wine into the Body, Blood,
Soul and Divinity of jesus to be the food of our souls.

We celebrate on this day the promise of Our Lord: "ln truth, in very truth I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life..."
(Jn. 6:53-4).

SO LET US MAKE A CLEAR PROFESSION OF FAITH IN THE BLESSED SACRAMENT BY CELEBRATING CORPUS CHRISTI THIS YEAR!

Please join us!

SAINT PHILOMENA CELEBRATION, 2008 A.D.

Sunday 13th August 11:00 a.m. High Mass, veneration of the First Class Relics of Saint Philomena, anointing with her Holy Oil.

Father Enrique Rueda joins me in wishing you every grace and blessing!

The Reverend Father Timothy A. Hopkins