Corpus Christi

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Corpus Christi

The Liturgical Year
Dom Prosper Gueranger, 1870

The grand Feast has, at length, dawned upon us; and everything is speaking of the triumph of faith and love. During the feast of the Ascension, when commenting those words of our Lord: It is expedient to you that I go (St. John, xvi. 7), we were saying, that the withdrawal of the visible presence of the Man-God from the eyes of men on earth, would bring among them, by the vivid operation of the Holy Ghost, a plenitude of light and a warmth of love which they had not had for their Jesus, during His mortal career among them; the only creature, that had rendered to Him, in her single self, the whole of those duties which the Church afterwards paid him, was Mary, who was all illumined with faith.

In his exquisite hymn, Adoro te devote, St. Thomas of Aquin says: On the Cross it was the Divinity alone that was hid; but here the Humanity, too, is hid; and yet, on no day of the Year is the Church more triumphant, or more demonstrative, than she is upon this Feast. Heaven is all radiant; our earth has clad herself with her best, that she may do homage to Him, who has said: I am the Flower of the fields, and the Lily of the valleys (Cant. ii. 1). Holy Church is not satisfied with having prepared a throne whereon, during the whole of this Octave, the sacred Host is to receive the adorations of the faithful; she has decreed, that these days of solemn and loving exposition be preceded by the pageant of a triumph. Not satisfied, today, with elevating the Bread of Life, immediately after the words of Consecration: she will carry It beyond the precincts of her churches, amidst clouds of incense, and on paths strewed with flowers; and her children, on bended knee, will adore, under heaven’s vaulted canopy, Him Who is their King and their God.

Those joys, which each separate solemnity of the Year brought us, seem to come back upon us, all of them at once, today. The Royal Prophet had foretold this, when he said: He (the Lord) hath made a remembrance (a Memorial) of His wonderful works: He hath given Food to them that fear Him (Ps. cs. 4, 5). Holy Church is filled with enthusiasm, holding in her arms that divine Spouse, who said: Lo! I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world (St. Matth. xxviii. 20). Nothing could be more formal; and the promise has been faithfully kept. It is true, we beheld Him ascending from Mount Olivet; He went up into heaven, and there He sitteth at His Father’s right hand: but, ever since the memorable day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit took possession of the Church, the sacred mystery of the Supper has been celebrated, in virtue of those words spoken by Jesus: Do this in remembrance of me; and from that day forward, the human race has never been deprived of the presence of its Head and its Redeemer.

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