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Jun 11, 2020

Corpus Christi: How to Live the Feast

Jeannette Williams

Our family has a personal connection to the great solemnity of Corpus Christi. When I was due with my fifth child, the older siblings (three girls, one boy) wanted some say in choosing the baby’s name. I had a slew of boy names saved up but was running out of favorite girl names, and the children were quick to offer suggestions, in case we had another girl. 

My son, who was six years old at the time, suggested the name Christina (after the little girl on his t-ball team who was just as good at the sport as he was!). It was certainly a lovely name, and I thought I ought to give his suggestion extra weight because he was so outnumbered, but we were in the habit of naming children after a saint (or in Arthur’s case, his father, which is close enough) so I asked, “But what saint would she be named after? There’s probably a St. Christina, but we don’t know of any.” Then my oldest daughter, who was nine at the time, piped up: “Name her after Corpus Christi!” 

So our new baby girl was named Christina, dedicated to Jesus truly present in the Eucharist. Happy feast day, Christina!

“God with Us”

The celebration of the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) dates back to 1264, following a Eucharistic miracle that occurred near the town of Orvieto, Italy. A good and devout priest, on pilgrimage to Rome, stopped along the way to offer Mass in the Church of St. Christina. As he spoke the words of consecration, he struggled with doubt in Christ’s true presence—until the consecrated host he was holding began to bleed. 

The priest brought the miraculous Host to Pope Urban IV, who later declared the feast in honor of the miracle. Numerous other Eucharistic miracles, even up to the present day, further attest to Jesus’ desire to remind us that he is with us still. The Eucharist is, in fact, the ultimate fulfillment of the words of Isaiah, quoted in Matthew’s Gospel: 

“’Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel’ (which means, God with us).”

Matthew 1:23

Celebrate the Feast

Because the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life,” (CCC 1324) we should try to make Corpus Christi a real family celebration. The feast is traditionally celebrated with a Eucharistic procession through streets of the town, but if you are not able to attend a procession, consider visiting the Blessed Sacrament to spend some time in Adoration. 

Pull out your old photo albums and look at pictures of your children’s first Holy Communion. Reminisce about that very special day and what memories each child might have. 

Take some time to talk about the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist, maybe at the dinner table or over a very special dessert. As springboards to discussion, read sections in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (I recommend paragraphs 1373 – 1381) and Scripture verses that clearly define the Eucharist (John 6:35-70; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; 1 Corinthians 11:23-29; the Last Supper: Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26, Luke 22:7-39 and/or John 13:1-17:26). Read our recent article on modern Eucharistic miracles.

If your children are teens or older, ask some challenging questions: How would I explain the True Presence to a non-Catholic? How can I grow in devotion to the Eucharist? How can I be a better witness and spread devotion to the True Presence? 

If your children are young, they could color or construct a monstrance and build their own little altar. Add some flowers and maybe some little battery-operated candles to help them grow in reverence for this great gift of God.

Learn More as a Family

There are some wonderful books and studies available to help us grow in knowledge and appreciation of the Eucharist. I led the study A Biblical Walk through the Mass at my parish a few years back and it was one of the best attended and most appreciated of all our studies. Another incredible option is Altaration: The Mystery of Mass Revealed. This series is designed for teens, but it helps adults, too, fall in love with Jesus in the Eucharist! Please, click and go just to watch the trailer—it’s so moving.

Books such as Do I Have to Go? and I’m Not Being Fed! answer the questions of young people and adults, respectively, who wonder what’s so great about the Mass. Pocket Guide to Adoration answers common questions, offers practical advice on overcoming distractions, and includes meditations and stories of Eucharistic miracles to inspire contemplation.

Moses prophesied when he stated:

“For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him?”

Deuteronomy 4:7

We have God himself, not just spiritually present whenever we call upon him, but really present—body and blood, soul and divinity—in every tabernacle throughout the world. And when we receive him in Holy Communion, we ourselves become tabernacles of the living Christ, God with us. Therefore, “let us celebrate the feast” (1 Corinthians 5:8).

You May Also Like:

Corpus Christi: The King(dom) is Here!

Fear of the Lord, Explaining the Eucharist to Children, and Baptizing a Grandchild [Fr. Josh Johnson Podcast]

Why Am I Catholic? The Eucharist

No Greater Love: A Biblical Walk Through Christ’s Passion [Book]

Jeannette Williams is the part-time communications coordinator of St. Jude Church and Shrine in Chalfont, Pennsylvania and a freelance writer and blogger. The mother of six, she homeschooled the first five through high school in the classical tradition, while the youngest now attends a new classical high school, Martin Saints, in Oreland, Pennsylvania. Jeannette’s greatest passion, besides her family, is to study the Catholic Faith and share it with others. When she’s not writing, Jeannette enjoys studying Spanish and Japanese, gardening, and spending time with her husband and children.

Featured image of “Corpus Christi Procession with Pope Gregory XVI in the Vatican” by Ferdinando Cavalleri (1794-1865) is sourced from Wikimedia Commons {{PD-US-expired}}. See also “Historical Images of Corpus Christi Processions” published by New Liturgical Movement.

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