Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Feast of Corpus Christi

"Among the immeasurable benefits, which the goodness of God hath bestowed on the Christian people, is a dignity beyond all price.  For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is unto us?  The only-begotten Son of God was pleased to make us partakers of his divine nature; that is, he took our nature upon him, being himself made man that he might, as it were, make men into gods.  And this body, which he took from us, he gave wholly unto our salvation.  For, on the Altar of the Cross, he offered up his body to God the Father, as a sacrifice for our reconciliation, and thereon he shed his own blood for our redemption; that is, his blood is the price whereby he redeemeth us from wretchedness and bondage, and the washing whereby he cleanseth us from all sin.  And for a noble and abiding Memórial of this his so great work of goodness, he hath left unto his faithful ones the same his very Body for Meat, and the same his very Blood for Drink, with which we are fed under the forms of Bread and Wine.

O how precious a thing then, how marvellous, how health-giving, yielding royal dainties, is the Supper of the Lord.  Than this Supper can anything be more precious?  Therein there is put before us for meat, not as of old time, the flesh of bulls and of goats, but Christ himself, our very God.  Than this Sacrament can anything be more marvellous?  Therein it is that Bread and Wine become unto us the very Body and and Blood of Christ; that is to say, perfect God and perfect Man, Christ himself, is there under the veils of a little bread and wine.  His faithful ones eat him, but he is not mangled; nay, when the veil which shroudeth him in the Sacrament is broken, in each broken fragment thereof remaineth the whole Christ himself, perfect God and perfect Man.  All that the senses can reach in this Sacrament, all these abide of bread and wine, but the Thing is not bread and wine.  And thus room is left for faith.  For Christ, who hath a Form that can be seen, is herein taken and received not only unseen, but seeming to be bread and wine, and the senses, which judge by the wonted look, are warranted against error.

Than this Sacrament can anything be more health-giving?  Thereby are sins purged away, strength is renewed, and the soul fed upon the fatness of spiritual gifts.  This Supper is offered up in the Church, both for the quick and the dead; it was ordained to the health of all, all get the good of it.  Than this Sacrament can anything yield more of royal dainties?  The glorious sweetness thereof is of a truth such that no man can fully tell it.  Therein ghostly comfort is sucked from its very well-head.  Therein a Memorial is made of that exceeding great love which Christ shewed in time of his sufferings.  It was in order that the boundless goodness of that his great love might be driven home into the hearts of his faithful ones, that when he had celebrated the Passover with his disciples, and the Last Supper was ended, then, knowing that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end, and instituted this Sacrament.  For this Sacrament is the everlasting forth-shewing of his death until he come again; this Sacrament is the embodied fulfilment of all the ancient types and figures; this Sacrament is is the greatest wonder which ever he wrought, and the one mighty joy of them that now have sorrow, till he shall come again; and thereby their heart shall rejoice, and their joy no man take from them."
-- From a Sermon by St Thomas Aquinas

** Most dioceses have transferred this feast to this Sunday, while the Vatican and those following the 1962 liturgical calendar observe it today.

No comments: