Sunday, June 02, 2013

Mass Chat: Corpus Christi

Faith in the Real Presence, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

When I returned to the Church in 1972 pretty much only a few old ladies attended Eucharistic adoration - if a parish still had it.  A couple of downtown churches still had exposition on either the First Friday of the month or in one case, every Friday, all day.  I tried to spend most of the day there when I wasn't working.  For most of the afternoon I would be one of maybe 3 other people. 

I also tried to spend as much time near the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle in other churches and chapels.  To my delight, I'd be completely alone.  I favored the Newman Chapel at the University of Minnesota, because the tabernacle was in a closet with only space for one kneeler, and I could be alone.  I couldn't understand why more people didn't spend more time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament - since he was really truly present.

Speaking about the arid waste of devotion - a full ten years later - Fr. Z explains the thinking in his time:
In the 1980’s we seminarians were informed with a superior sneer that, “Jesus said ‘Take and eat, not sit and look!’”  Somehow, “looking” was opposed to “receiving”, “doing”.  This same error is at the root of false propositions about “active participation”: if people aren’t constantly singing or carrying stuff they are “passive”.
After the Second Vatican Council, many liturgists (all but a few?) asserted that, because modern man is all grown up now, Eucharistic devotions are actually harmful rather than helpful.  We mustn’t crawl in submission before God anymore.  We won’t grovel in archaic triumphal processions or kneel as if before some king.  We are urbane adults, not child-like peasants below a father or feudal master.  We stand and take rather than kneel and receive
How this lie has damaged our Catholic identity!  Some details of society have changed like shifting sandbars, but man doesn’t change.  God remains transcendent. We poor, fallen human beings need concrete things through which we can perceive invisible realities. 
The bad old days of post-Conciliar denigration of wholesome devotional practices may linger, but the aging-hippie priests and liberal liturgists have lost most of their ground under the two-fold pincer of common sense and the genuine Catholic love people have for Jesus in the Eucharist. The customs of Corpus Christi processions, Forty Hours Devotion, and Eucharistic Adoration are returning in force. - WDTPRS 

By the grace of my conversion, like Fr. Z, I knew that was totally wrong of course, and all the Popes, from Paul VI to Francis have affirmed and encouraged devotion to the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass.  Fr. Z and those priests like him, held to this faith as well.  Younger people today have no idea what a complete desert the Church had become in those days - and how completely alone one could feel in the faith - combine that with trying to live a faithful, chaste and celibate life, and you will come to understand that it is grace alone, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist - who sustains and perfects our faith.

The Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ

Today the Holy Father conducted an hour of world-wide adoration - offering Jesus in the Blessed sacrament to the world, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.  In my parish bulletin I came across this explanation of today's Solemnity - an echo of the errors from the not too distant past wherein liturgists desired to undo Catholic tradition which developed and enjoyed papal approval through the centuries:

What are the origins for the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ,
often referred to as Corpus Christi Sunday?

By the year 1000, the active participation of the laity at Mass was minimal. Most of the people did not receive Communion for a variety of reasons, especially the notion of unworthiness. A form of eucharistic spirituality that attempted to involve them developed, known as "ocular communion." It put forth the notion that eucharistic graces were received by merely looking at the host. Instead of physically partaking, one fervently looked at and adored the host.

Elevating the bread and wine at consecration dates to this period. The practice
of viewing the host outside of Mass developed into a devotion called Benediction,
where the exposed host could be viewed and adored for a more extended
period of time. The request for even more time to view the host led to a devotion
known as Forty Hours, the exposition of the host for forty hours straight. By 1250,
With the return to the full, conscious, and active participation at Mass by all,these devotions, while appropriate for their day and time, have lost some of their significance. They are still valid devotions, but only in relationship to the source and summit of our faith, the eucharistic celebration by the whole assembly.
© Liturgical Publications Inc
"With the return to the full, conscious, and active participation at Mass by all,
these devotions, while appropriate for their day and time, have lost some of their significance."


Perhaps the loss of significance is to be blamed on the way Mass has been celebrated, and the Eucharist has been treated - the emphasis being on the assembly as the body of Christ rather than on worship of God.
Just a thought.  I suspect Pope Francis' emphasis today will aid in correcting any further misunderstanding.


  1. Our parish has had perpetual adoration for thirteen years. Once, late at night, a well dressed man was there with a younger woman whom I took to be his daughter. He was sobbing uncontrollably and she was comforting him. I'd never seen them before or since but I assumed that they had been at a wake that night and needed the Lord's consolation. Another night I saw a woman whom I knew to be very ill. She was before the Lord in total peace with a smile of her face. She passed away very soon afterward (it could have been later that night or the next day.) I believe that the Lord was bathing her with His love. People, even if they're not regular church goers, long to be with Jesus and it would be a great, great blessing if more churches could offer Eucharistic Adoration.

  2. It is shocking what Father Z stated - but sadly I do find this attitude to be true of some priests from that era. Thankfully, it seems that the new seminarians and young priests are being formed more properly and in the Truth. Eucharistic adoration has changed my life. I highly recommend it to everyone!

  3. Perhaps it's because people take (and I say take here pointedly) the Eucharist every time they go to Mass no matter what. They aren't taught that they shouldn't take communion when they're not in a right state or else they just don't care or they have a VERY liberal idea of what mortal sin is (ie if you haven't murdered someone lately, everything is A OK). I've literally had people force me to get out of the pew at Mass to go up to communion, when I was kneeling and not going up to communion. I crossed my arms when I went. But I had TWO people saying, get up there and take communion, and they wouldn't stop until I got up and walked up there.

  4. Oh I just remembered this too. One time I was talking to my priest about a situation I was in and he told me point blank, don't miss out on communion just for that. He made it a point to tell me not to miss communion again. I listened to him that one time because he's my priest...but I know it he was telling me the wrong thing. I've seen extraordinary ministers force people to take communion too even though they have their arms crossed as they go up.

  5. I also found a half chewed up and spat out host on the floor in one of our back pews. I picked the host up and held it until I could give it to my priest.

    Now that I'm remembering all of this stuff...I'm starting to think I live in a horrible parish. Well, I always knew that, but thinking about it is really depressing.

  6. Sorry for posting so many times, I just got to remembering all this terrible stuff.

    All of this stuff happened in my parish. We have no adoration.

  7. I can see the point that the piece from Liturgical Publications is making. It seems it's trying to ground the devotions in the Mass and not lose sight of the fact that the Mass is the true source of all devotion. That's a worthwhile distinction to make.

    If a devotion or devotions had come to supplant the Mass - particularly the reception of Holy Communion by the faithful - then the devotion itself too has lost its significance. I believe the Church teaches, in its instruction on popular piety, that devotions ought to flow from the highest form of devotion - the Mass - and ultimately lead us back to it. If they don't, while they may be valid in themselves, then something is off. In most cases, it's probably with the understanding of the devotions, the practice of them, etc.

    I love Eucharistic Adoration. But if I came 'adore' the Lord and never receive Him at Mass, assuming I'm in a state of grace, I believe something would be off the mark with my devotion.

  8. "Perhaps the loss of significance is to be blamed on the way Mass has been celebrated, and the Eucharist has been treated...."

    You are correct of course. Look back at the picture of the canonization ceremony of St. Charles Lwanga--the splendor & reverence shown by the "pre-Vatican" liturgy (which ironically was the liturgy celebrated during the Council). The stripped-down, vernacularized liturgy of today can't convey the sense of the sacred that the traditional liturgy did.


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