This Sunday is the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus Christi. The community Mass will be celebrated at 11:00 AM, Abbot Robert Barnes presiding and preaching. From after Communion through Vespers, the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed for adoration. members of the community will be keeping prayerful watch and we invite all our friends and neighbors to join us. Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament will conclude Adoration after Vespers (5:30 PM).
Corpus Christi was instituted in the 13th Century and is a solemnity that is not directly related to an even of salvation history. And yet again, it is rooted in the ministry of Christ; this year’s Gospel celebrates St. Mark’s narration the Last Supper. On Holy Thursday we consider the Last Supper within the overall mystery of our redemption; on Corpus Christi, we consider the daily role of the Eucharist in our lives.
Since Vatican II, we refer to this Solemnity as the Body and Blood of Christ. Throughout most of the middle ages, the faithful received both the host and from the chalice but the discipline gradually changed. Not only did the chalice become the priest’s prerogative but fewer and fewer of the faithful received at all; Pope Innocent III stipulated in 1217 that the faithful should receive communion at least once a year. In practice, most people at Mass looked at the host, rather than received it, feeling unworthy to approach the altar. It was by popular demand, not a rubric of the missal, that the priest celebrating the Mass elevated to host and the chalice so people could see and worship the Sacred Species after the consecration. This piety of looking soon produced the paraliturgical devotions of Benediction and Eucharistic processions. Over the centuries, we’ve come to appreciation such exposition of the Blessed Sacrament as a contemplative extension of what we celebrate in the course of the Mass, a prolonged time to prayerfully repose in the sacramental presence of Christ.