Sunday, June 14, 2009

Corpus Christi

Today is the feast of Corpus Christi, now known as the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. As a feast in honor of the Holy Eucharist, it's one that the Apostleship of Prayer celebrates in a special way. What we call a "simple and profound way of life", is a Eucharistic way of life. In his Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist, Sacramentum Caritatis, Pope Benedict XVI called the Eucharist a Mystery to be Believed, a Mystery to be Celebrated, and a Mystery to be Lived. This feast of Corpus Christi was initiated in the 13th Century to renew a belief in the Eucharist that had grown cold. This feast is celebrated to this day with special processions in which we take Jesus, present in the Blessed Sacrament, into the streets. As we renew our faith in this great Sacrament of Love, we recognize that through Holy Communion with the Body and Blood of Christ we are transformed. We become what we eat. We are the Body of Christ called to live the Eucharist in our daily lives. But, practically speaking, how do we do that?

One way that we live the Eucharist is by making a daily offering of our lives to God. As Jesus offered Himself to the Father for the salvation of the world, so we join ourselves to the perfect offering of Jesus at every Mass--the ones at which we are present and the ones that are going on everywhere in the world at any given moment. This is what it ultimately means to "offer it up."

In the Divine Office--the Church's Prayer Book--there are three reminders of this in today's Morning Prayer. Two of the Intercessions are:

Priest of the new and eternal covenant, you offered perfect sacrifice to the Father on the altar of the cross, teach us to offer ourselves with you.

King of justice and peace, you consecrated bread and wine as the sign of your offering, unite us as victims with you.

And the "Alternative Prayer" for Mass and for the Office of the feast is:

Lord Jesus Christ,
we worship you living among us
in the sacrament of your body and blood.
May we offer to our Father in heaven
a solemn pledge of undivided love.
May we offer to our brothers and sisters
a life poured out in loving service of that kingdom
where you live with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The daily offering helps us live a Eucharistic life. We offer ourselves to the Father in response to His love and we offer ourselves for the service of our neighbor.

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