Our Pastor’s Corner, JUNE 7, 2015, MOST HOLY BODY & BLOOD OF CHRIST

O sacred banquet in which Christ becomes our food. The memory of his passion is celebrated, the soul is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.

 Hurley Corpus ChristiThese simple yet powerful words are taken from the Antiphon for the Liturgy of the Hours for Corpus Christi, the solemnity that we are celebrating this Sunday. They were penned by the great Dominican theologian St. Thomas Aquinas at the request of Pope Urban IV. At the time, Pope Urban recognized a need to have a feast specifically to celebrate the rich treasure that the Eucharist is for the life of the Church. Certainly Holy Thursday celebrates the institution of the Eucharist, but because it is the gateway into Triduum, Pope Urban saw the wisdom in establishing a feast that simply focused on the mystery of our Lord’s most holy body and blood present in the Eucharist.

 There is a story that Pope Urban not only asked St. Thomas Aquinas but also the Franciscan, St. Bonaventure, who was also teaching at Paris at the time, to compose an Office and Mass in honor of the Blessed Sacrament. On the day they appeared to compare their efforts, the Pope invited St. Thomas to read his aloud first. As St. Bonaventure listened to sublime poetry read by his mendicant sibling, he recognized its genius and inspiration, and so slowly tore to shreds his own manuscript. Admittedly, there’s perhaps a bit of Dominican pride in the story (I’m not sure that’s what the Franciscans teach their novices), but it does underscore the beauty of St. Thomas’ Office and Mass setting which are now enshrined for all time in the Roman Missal and the Roman Breviary.


courtesy: LifeTeen

courtesy: LifeTeen

For those who are familiar with St. Thomas’ writings, we imagine him to be a theologian and scholar. In his texts for Corpus Christi, we discover that St. Thomas has the heart of a poet. The Eucharistic prayers and anthems that are so well known to us come from St. Thomas’ masterpiece: the Pange Lingua (concluding in the “Tantum Ergo”), the “Verbum Super num” (concluding with the “O Salutaris Hostia”), and the sequence before the Gospel, “Lauda Sion.” Also, St. Thomas penned the two Eucharistic hymns, “Adoro Te Devote” and “Panis Angelicus” for this Solemnity. Of all of these jewels, there is perhaps none as succinctly beautiful as the “O sacrum convivium,” O sacred banquet. In this brief prayer, which begins our daily evening prayers, St. Thomas gives us a profound, if brief, glimpse into our Eucharistic belief.

 O sacred banquet in which Christ becomes our food. The image of the Eucharist as food is deeply ingrained in the Catholic imagination. Hunger is an innate, driving desire. Just as our bodies crave the food we need to survive and thrive, so too, we all have a deep spiritual hunger which only our creator can satisfy. In the Eucharist, we are sated with the nourishing presence of Jesus in our hearts. This spiritual food encompasses the past, present and future.  The memory of his passion is celebrated, the soul is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us. By remembering Christ’s passion at Mass, God gives himself to us. This teaches us that if we are to truly be people of the Eucharist, we must be people of sacrifice, willing to offer our lives completely to God. The grace which fills us when we receive the sacrament worthily and reverently empowers us to live life fully as the unique person God has created us to be.

 Ultimately, the Eucharist points to our destiny: eternal life. The Eucharist is a gift that makes a promise. God offers himself to us in the form of bread as pledge that he has prepared a heavenly dwelling place for us. The grace of the Eucharistic is simply the beginning of the gift which God has in store for those who believe. I invite you to renew your appreciation and love for this gift as we celebrate Corpus Christi. At the conclusion of select Masses, we will have a Eucharistic procession to the Lady Chapel, time for prayerful Adoration, and Benediction. Let the Eucharist we receive be the joy of our lives!

~ Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.


Our Pastor’s Corner, JUNE 7, 2015, MOST HOLY BODY & BLOOD OF CHRIST — 1 Comment

  1. Fr. Michael’
    Thank you for your reflection.

    “By our little acts of charity practiced in the shade we convert souls far away, we help missionaries, we win for them abundant alms; and by that means build actual dwellings spiritual and material for our Eucharistic Lord.”

    St. Therese of Lisieux

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