PS: Corpus Christi

Picture: 
Body: 

Each week, a Dominican member of the Province of St. Joseph’s Preaching Advisory Board prepares this Preacher’s Sketchbook in anticipation of the upcoming Sunday Mass. The idea of the Preacher’s Sketchbook is to take quotations from the authority of the Church–the Pope, the Fathers of the Church, documents of the Councils, the saints–that can help spark ideas for the Sunday homily. Just as an artist’s sketchbook preserves ideas for later elaboration, so we hope the Preacher’s Sketchbook will provide some ideas for homiletical elaboration.

Pope Benedict XVI, June 7, 2007

Corpus Christi is thus a renewal of the mystery of Holy Thursday, as it were, in obedience to Jesus’ invitation to proclaim from “the housetops” what he told us in secret (cf. Mt 10,27). It was the Apostles who received the gift of the Eucharist from the Lord in the intimacy of the Last Supper, but it was destined for all, for the whole world. This is why it should be proclaimed and exposed to view: so that each one may encounter “Jesus who passes” as happened on the roads of Galilee, Samaria and Judea; in order that each one, in receiving it, may be healed and renewed by the power of his love. Dear friends, this is the perpetual and living heritage that Jesus has bequeathed to us in the Sacrament of his Body and his Blood. It is an inheritance that demands to be constantly rethought and relived so that, as venerable Pope Paul VI said, its “inexhaustible effectiveness may be impressed upon all the days of our mortal life”

Bl. Pope John Paul II, June 22, 2000

This is an amazing miracle which marks in a way the beginning of a long historical process: the uninterrupted multiplication in the Church of the Bread of new life for the people of every race and culture. This sacramental ministry is entrusted to the Apostles and to their successors. And they, faithful to the divine Master’s command, never cease to break and distribute the Eucharistic bread from generation to generation.

The People of God receive it with devout participation. With this Bread of life, a remedy of immortality, countless saints and martyrs were nourished and from it drew the strength to resist even harsh and prolonged sufferings. They believed in the words that Jesus once spoke in Capernaum: “I myself am the living bread come down from heaven. If any one eats this bread, he will live forever” (Jn 6, 51).

Bl. Pope John Paul II, June 14, 2001

The ecclesial community responds to people in every age who ask perplexed: “We wish to see Jesus” (Jn 12,21), by repeating what the Lord did for the disciples of Emmaus: He broke the bread. In the breaking of the bread, the eyes of those who seek him with a sincere heart are opened. In the Eucharist, the intuition of the heart recognizes Jesus and his unmistakable love lived “to the end” (Jn 13,1). And in him, in that gesture, it recognizes the Face of God!

Pope Benedict XVI, June 7, 2012

In reality, it is a mistake to oppose celebration and adoration, as if they were in competition with one another. It is precisely the contrary: the worship of the Most Blessed Sacrament is as the spiritual “environment” in which the community can celebrate the Eucharist well and in truth. Only if it is preceded, accompanied and followed by this interior attitude of faith and adoration, can the liturgical action express its full meaning and value. The encounter with Jesus in the Holy Mass is truly and fully acted when the community is able to recognize that, in the Sacrament, He dwells in his house, waits for us, invites us to his table, then, after the assembly is dismissed, stays with us, with his discreet and silent presence, and accompanies us with his intercession, continuing to gather our spiritual sacrifices and offering them to the Father.

St. Thomas Aquinas, OP, Summa Contra Gentiles

Now, bodily life needs material nourishment, not only for increase in quantity, but to maintain the nature of the body as well, lest it be dissolved by continuous resolutions and lose its power; in the same way it was necessary to have spiritual nourishment for the spiritual life that the reborn may both be conserved in virtues and grow in them.

Spiritual effects were fittingly given under the likeness of things visible (as was said); therefore, spiritual nourishment of this kind is given to us under the appearances, of the things which men rather commonly use for bodily nourishment. Bread and wine are of this sort. Accordingly, this sacrament is given under the appearances of bread and wine.

But consider this: He who begets is joined to the begotten in one way, and nourishment is joined to the nourished in another way in bodily things. For the one who begets need not be conjoined to the begotten in substance, but in likeness and in power only. But nutriment must be conjoined to the one nourished in substance. Wherefore, that the spiritual effects may answer the bodily signs, the mystery of the incarnate Word is joined to us in one way in baptism which is a spiritual rebirth, and in another way in this sacrament of the Eucharist which is a spiritual nourishment. In baptism the Word incarnate is contained in His power only, but we hold that in the sacrament of the Eucharist He is contained in His substance.

And since the fulfillment of our salvation took place through the passion and death of Christ, in which His blood was separated from His flesh, we are given the sacrament of His body separately under the appearance of bread, and of His blood under the appearance of wine-, and so we have in this sacrament both memory and the representation of our Lord’s passion. And in this our Lord’s words are fulfilled: “My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed”

St. Thomas Aquinas, OP, Commentary on 1 Corinthians

This sacrament is presented under two species for three reasons: first, indeed, on account of its perfection, because, since it is spiritual refreshment, ought to be spiritual food and spiritual drink. For even bodily refreshment is not complete without food and drink. Hence he also says above (10:3): “All ate of the same spiritual food and all drank the same spiritual drink.” Secondly, on account of its signification. For it is the memorial of the Lord’s passion, through which the blood of Christ was separated from His body; that is why in this sacrament the blood is offered separately from the body. Thirdly, on account of the salutary effect of this sacrament, for it avails for the health of the body, and so the body is offered; and it avails for the health of the soul, and so the blood is offered. “For the soul is in the blood” (Lev 17:11).