minima maxima sunt

The Small things are the Great things; as in a grain of mustard seed.

Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi procession

The Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) celebrates the ancient tradition concerning the Sacrament of Eucharist. From the earliest times in the church, and right within the Gospels, we see this focal point of christian celebration in the writings and practice of early christians as well as in the very words of Christ at the last supper where He states concerning the bread and wine that: “This is my body; This is my blood”.

In the Catholic Church there is a term called Transubstantiation which defines how we understand the Real Presence. It states that during the consecration at Mass a change occurs where the “Accidents” of bread and wine become the “body, blood, soul and divinity” of Christ substantially. The physical appearance of bread and wine remain. The concepts of substance and accident were not inventions of the church, but come from philosophy.  The basic idea is that a thing can truly be something other than what it appears to be. This is a concept not confined to the Eucharist alone. Baptism, Marriage, Orders, and the other sacraments also hold to a hidden and real grace that is bound to the physical but not necessarily seen. For instance Marriage is not a matter of a mere documented forensic declaration; it is a substantial reality that the man and woman have become one flesh. Not seen in appearance or the physical but understood in a “spiritual” way. Other examples can be found in scientific terms like physical change. For instance the substance of h2o can make up ice, water and steam. The outside appearance doesn’t change the substance within.

A Monstrance

The Feast of Corpus Christi has some interesting traditions which are still practiced. One of these would be the procession of the Eucharist in a Monstrance. A Monstrance is a vessel, which the Host (Eucharist) can be placed into for adoration. The word comes from the Latin monstrare which means “to show” (think demonstrate) and during the year many parishes have times set for Eucharistic Adoration. Worshippers can come and sit before the Sacrament, to pray , contemplate, and meditate. During Corpus Christi it was common to form a procession that would carry the Host through the town in a monstrance, and while it is not common, this practice is still observed by some today.

In the last several centuries the belief in the real presence and especially the catholic definition of transubstantiation have been challenged. Early reformers like Luther still held a similar concept which was termed consubstantiation, and the feast of Corpus Christi was retained for a time. In many of the modern sects the belief is completely rejected. In a way which I find ironic, the belief that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ has been “transubstantiated” into a belief that the bread and wine have become crackers and grape juice.

“This food we call the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us. For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God’s Word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the Word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus.”

Justin Martyr: “First Apology”, Ch. 66, inter A.D. 148-155.

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3 thoughts on “Corpus Christi

  1. marieagrace on said:

    When did this first start in a church? How did they know to say Body and blood of Christ? Who was the first to say this?(Besides Jesus??) Like when did it all come into focus and part of the services of the church?

    • Mike LaFountain on said:

      All comes from the early church and right from the start. All the gospels touch on the body and blood, and some believe that the the whole point of the gospels were to focus on this point, but the gospels were written later than Paul’s epistles. Paul makes clear the importance of the body and blood in Christian practice as seen in this verse for Corinthians.

      1 Cor 11:27 Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread and drink of the chalice. 29 For he that eats and drinks unworthily eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.

  2. For some reason I have always believed that the ceremony of the Eucharist is valid because it was the last thing Jesus said and shared with his followers and he did make it clear to be of good conscience and confess any sins so when you receive you will be worthy of this food that represents his body and blood.It is important but weather he is in the b read is my concern he just might be because why not?? His blessings are on those whop ;partake I do know this but you can’t prove this to people that he is actually there
    When we speak of miracles in the church and others say it is the work of the devil I wonder why their church is not doing these miracles for Jesus said greater things shall you do and you will know them by their fruits and that don’t mean a degree in theology it means in works in the church and outside the church for faith without works is dead!!!

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