This week the Catholic Church celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi, the feast instituted in the thirteenth century by Pope Urban IV to honor the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Here in the United States, the feast was celebrated on Sunday; but in Italy and many other countries, the faithful marked the celebration on Thursday.
In Rome, Pope Francis led a crowd of about 20,000 pilgrims in a traditional Corpus Christi procession through the streets from the Basilica of St. John Lateran to the Basilica of St. Mary Major. At a Mass on the feast, the Roman pontiff reflected upon Jesus’ words in Luke 9:13, “Give you them to eat.” With that as his starting point, Pope Francis allowed himself to be guided by three words: discipleship, fellowship and sharing.
Speaking to the gathered crowd, he compared the liturgy, at which we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, to the Last Supper:
This evening, we too are gathered around the Lord’s table, the table of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, in which He gives us once again His body, makes present the one sacrifice of the Cross. It is in listening to his Word, in nourishing ourselves with his Body and his Blood, that He makes us go from being a multitude to being a community, from [being strangers] to being [in] communion. The Eucharist is the sacrament of communion, which brings us out from individualism to live together our journey in His footsteps, our faith in Him.
We ought, therefore, to ask ourselves before the Lord: How do I live the Eucharist? Do I live it anonymously or as a moment of true communion with the Lord, [and] also with many brothers and sisters who share this same table? How are our Eucharistic celebrations?
At least on the Feast of Corpus Christi, our celebrations—here in America, and in cities around the world—were mighty and joyous celebrations of our intimacy with Christ, as He is found in the Eucharist.
My husband and I participated in a small Corpus Christi procession organized by three local parishes. Later, as I was driving home, traffic was averted as Catholics at another nearby parish marched and sang in procession. All over the world, the outpouring of faith and love was repeated.
The San Jose Mercury-News has assembled a great photo show, featuring 26 Corpus Christi celebrations from around the world. Watch out for that scene in photo #20—that would appear to be El Colacho, the unusual Spanish celebration of the “devil’s leap” that I told you about last week, and which is highly discouraged by the Catholic Church.