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corpus christi

The Last Supper - Fra Angelico

The Thursday after Trinity, ten days after Pentecost is known as Corpus Christi. A 13th Century Belgian nun named Juliana had a recurring dream of a brilliant full moon coming down to earth but with a black spot. Christ interpreted it for her in that the moon represented the calendar year of the church with all of its wonderful festivals, but the black spot showed that there was something missing, an occasion to remember the institution by Christ of the Mass. Her friend the Bishop of Liege believed her vision. He subsequently became Pope Urban the Fourth, and in 1264 he proclaimed the feast of Corpus Christi, which was first celebrated with hymns and prayers written by St. Thomas Aquinas.

Holy Trinity, Winchester in 1910

When Mass is celebrated with priest and people, when word is heard and Eucharist is celebrated, there the Spirit transforms these gifts so we may share in the living, real presence of the risen lord and be in communion with Him and each other. Wherever we do this, we are bringing heaven and earth together not only in a place but also into ourselves. So that we become more and more the Body of Christ present in our world. It is an encounter not in doctrine, but in the gracious love and humility of the Lord who continually abides with us in that greater miracle than Cana, where the water of life is transformed into the wine of heaven. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. (I Cor II: 25)

“To find oneself confronted by a piece of bread, and then to be told that this is the presence of Jesus, involves an act of faith: reason is inadequate.

This sign of bread both conceals and points to the presence of Jesus; it is Jesus himself, Son of God and Son of Mary, Jesus of Bethlehem, of Nazareth, of the Last Supper, Jesus of Calvary, Jesus of the Resurrection; Jesus – the same yesterday, today and the same for ever.With this bread, Jesus will nourish me, every time I do this in remembrance of him.

Jesus, the Bread – the Window that opens on to the invisible.”

Carlo Carretto – “In Search of the Beyond”

Love’s Choice – Malcolm Guite

This bread is light, dissolving, almost air, A little visitation on my tongue,

A wafer-thin sensation, hardly there.

This taste of wine is brief in flavour, flung...A moment to the palate’s roof and fled, Even its aftertaste a memory.

Yet this is how He comes.

Through wine and bread

Love chooses to be emptied into me.

He does not come in unimagined light

Too bright to be denied, too absolute

For consciousness, too strong for sight, leaving the seer blind, the poet mute; chooses instead to seep into each sense, To dye himself into experience.

The fully Christian life

is a Eucharistic life:

that is, a natural life

conformed to the pattern of Jesus,

given in its wholeness to God,

laid on His altar

as a sacrifice of love,

and consecrated,


by His inpouring life,

to be used

to give life and food

to other souls.

Evelyn Underhill


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