Last Sunday we celebrated Corpus Christi with a beautiful Eucharistic Procession following the 10:30AM Mass. Eucharistic processions first became a popular practice in the life of the Church during the 12th Century. Pope Benedict XVI eloquently noted in a homily in 2007, “It was born for the very precise purpose of openly reaffirming the faith of the people of God in Jesus Christ, alive and truly present in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist. It is a feast that was established in order to publicly adore, praise and thank the Lord, who continues ‘to love us to the end,’ even to offering us his body and his blood.”
By processing with the Holy Eucharist in a reverent, prayerful and joyful manner, we honor Christ truly present in the Eucharist and serve as witnesses to the intimate presence of God in the world and in each individual. The Eucharistic Procession powerfully displays the Incarnation, God becoming man, and thus speaks of his merciful love for all who journey to eternal life with him. Our procession last Sunday was certainly solemn, revenent, joyful and prayerful. We give thanks to all who helped make it so. Our ushers and the Canopy bearers, those who decorated, Altar Servers and the Choir.
The singing of the hymn, Tantum Ergo, was quite beautiful and moving. This hymn pays homage to our Lord both in the Eucharist and in His glory in the Trinity. It comprises the last two stanzas of Pange Lingua, a hymn written by Saint Thomas Aquinas for the Feast of Corpus Christi. This text has been set to music by composers as diverse as Palestrina, Mozart, Bruckner and Faure. And for nearly 1000 years Catholics have devoutly sang this hymn in honor of the Eucharistic Lord.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, considered one of the greatest theologians of the Church, valued faith as a key element of our worship of our Lord in the “sacred Host,” the Eucharist! We as Catholics believe that Christ is present to us in the consecrated bread known as the Host. This is true whether we receive Him in Holy Communion at Mass or adore Him in the monstrance or in the tabernacle. Our belief that bread and wine once consecrated at Mass aren’t just symbols of our Lord but are indeed His body, blood, soul and divinity, has strong roots both in scripture and in the writings of numerous theologians going back to the 2nd century! Although we see bread and wine it is truly our Savior, Jesus Christ, under the appearance of these elements. This doctrine is also called transubstantiation. St. Thomas himself was certainly no doubting Thomas about this dogma. As he once noted, Christ did not say at the Last Supper “this bread is my body” but rather “this is my body.”
This wonderful miracle, when our Lord comes to give us His grace and support, occurs countless times every day in Masses all over the world! And every day, our Lord, like His faithful servant Saint Thomas Aquinas, invites us to see and worship Him in the Blessed Sacrament through the eyes of faith! May we never take this great gift of the Eucharist for granted and may we be always faithful to Sunday Mass!
Of course our celebration of Corpus Christi gave us the chance to thank our Senior Altar Servers. These young men and women have faithfully served the Eucharistic Lord at the altar of OLM. Some serving as many as ten years at Sunday Masses, weekday Masses, Holy Week, Christmas, Funerals and Weddings! We are truly grateful for their example of service, reverence, and faith. Please continue to pray for them as they head off to the world of college! May they continue to grow in faith and love of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. May they continue to stay close to the Lord and His Church!
In the name of the Parish of Our Lady of Mercy, I offer my sincere and heartfelt thanks to Deacon John Dowd. He has served faithfully as our Parish Deacon these last few years and now he moves on from our parish family. We wish Deacon and Mrs. Dowd, much joy and happiness as they begin a new chapter in their lives. May God grant them His abundant blessings!
Happy Fourth of July! Don’t forget there is no holiday from going to Sunday Mass! God Bless America! Be well. Do Good. Go Sox!