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placeholder Parishes celebrate Feast of Corpus Christi

St. Raymond begins yearlong celebration

Relic of St. Toribio Romo visits Bay Area

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‘The Church was Catholic from the very first moment’

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Pittsburg clinic receives $40,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente

CYO results

Raiders lend hand to urban schools

OBITUARY: Father Martial Luebke, OFM


placeholder June 20, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 12   •   Oakland, CA
Parishes celebrate Feast of Corpus Christi

This year, we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi on June 26.

The feast, known also as The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, celebrates the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist. The Feast of Corpus Christi has been celebrated throughout the world during the last 700 years. It brings about great joy and celebrations.

Originally it was observed on the Thursday after Holy Trinity Sunday. In 1970, however, it was changed to the following Sunday for the United States and many other countries of the world.

At St. Margaret Mary Church, 1219 Excelsior Ave., Oakland, we have had two Corpus Christi processions every year since 2005. After the 10:30 a.m. Novus Ordo Mass and after the 12:30 p.m. Extraordinary Form (Tridentine Rite) Mass — going one block around the church.

Other parishes also may organize a procession and events to honor Our Lord on that feast.

Eucharistic processions

When the Blessed Sacrament is carried in a solemn procession, we are giving public witness of our faith in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

A Eucharistic Procession begins after Mass in which one extra host is consecrated and carried in a procession around the church, or, if that isn’t possible, around the parking lot or on the streets.

After the Communion Prayer, concluding rites are omitted and a consecrated host is placed in the monstrance. After exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, the celebrant incenses the Blessed Sacrament and wears the Benediction Veil. He takes the monstrance, and the procession begins with a Processional Cross, two altar servers with candles and two carrying a censor and a boat with incense. The main celebrant is carrying the Blessed Sacrament under the canopy. Other altar servers and clergy walk in front of the canopy, and the faithful are walking behind the canopy.

Eucharistic Hymns are sung during the procession. In the course of the procession there may be four stations where the procession stops for proclamation of the Holy Gospel, prayer and a blessing. At every station, the monstrance is placed on the altar and, after the incensation, the Gospel is chanted by a priest or deacon. After the Gospel, the congregation sings three times — “Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us” — while the priest incenses the Blessed Sacrament. When the congregation finishes singing Holy God, the celebrant sings a prayer and gives blessing with the Blessed Sacrament and the procession moves to next station.

At the fourth station the priest is giving a blessing with the monstrance to the four corners of the world, and the Blessed Sacrament is then returned to the tabernacle. At the end of the procession, a thanksgiving hymn is sung or Te Deum Laudamus (We praise you, God).

Corpus Christi as a feast in the Catholic calendar was primarily due to the petitions of the 13th Century Augustinian nun Juliana of Liège in Belgium. From her early youth, Juliana had veneration for the Blessed Sacrament, and always longed for a special feast in its honor. This desire is said to have been increased by a vision of the Church under the appearance of the full moon having one dark spot, which signified the absence of such a solemnity. In 1208 she reported her first vision of Christ in which she was instructed to plead for the institution of the feast of Corpus Christi. The vision was repeated for the next 20 years, but she kept it a secret. When she eventually relayed it to her confessor, he relayed it to the bishop.

Juliana also petitioned the learned Dominican Hugh of St-Cher, Jacques Pantaléon (who later became Pope Urban IV) and Robert de Thorete, Bishop of Liège. In 1246 Bishop Robert convened a synod and ordered a celebration of Corpus Christi to be held each year thereafter in his diocese.

In 1263 Pope Urban IV investigated claims of a Eucharistic miracle at Bolsena in Italy, in which a consecrated host began to bleed. The pope considered this a great miracle and wrote a papal bull: “Transiturus de hoc mundo” (“To pass that way out of this world”), starting the Feast of Corpus Christi throughout the entire Latin Rite on September 8, 1264.

This was the very first sanctioned universal feast by the pope in the Latin Rite.

While the institution of the Eucharist is celebrated on Holy Thursday, the Feast of Corpus Christi was established to create a feast focused solely on the Holy Eucharist.

(Father Stanislaw Zak is pastor of St. Margaret Mary Church in Oakland.)

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