"Even if we open the heavens, and look into the Heaven of heavens, we shall find there nothing more holy, nothing greater than what Jesus Christ Himself has placed upon our altars."
- St. Chrysostom.
These two words, Corpus Christi, mean Body of Christ. The feast kept on the first Thursday after the octave of Pentecost was established to commemorate and give thanks for that great mystery of love which Christ left us at His last supper, when, consecrating the bread and wine, He gave us His Body and Blood under those appearances, for the remembrance of His Passion, for the comfort of His Church, as an agreeable sacrifice to His Heavenly Father, and a most precious food to nourish our souls.
Holy Thursday would seem at first sight to be the proper time for this celebration, but the Church, being taken up in contemplating the sufferings of her Spouse, thought fit to postpone the joyful commemoration for the institution of so amiable a mystery.
We ought to celebrate this great feast and its octave by strengthening our faith in this mystery by receiving Holy Communion with unusual fervour; by taking part in the procession, if held in our locality; by contributing flowers, ect. for the decorations; and by frequent visits to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, to pour out our souls in acts of adoration, gratitude, love and petition for ourselves and others.
We should try and go to Benediction also. This is a ceremony which gives us an opportunity of making public profession of our faith by acts of adoration. It excites us to an increase of love and confidence, by reminding us that it is for love of us that He dwells in our tabernacles. When the priest makes the Sign of the Cross over us with the Blessed Sacrament in his hands, let us beg God's grace and blessing on our souls, and particularly for strength to carry our cross after Him, and to fulfil the duties of our state in life.
Practices like these will increase our faith and devotion to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and we shall then experience the blessedness of conversing familiarly with Him as a friend, and we shall enjoy the peace which surpasseth understanding.
"Jesu! Whom for the present veiled I see,
What I so this for, O, vouchsafe to me;
That I may see Thy countenance unfolding,
And may be blest Thy glory in beholding."
Example.- Corpus Christi in Paraguay.
The Christian converts of the Reductions of Paraguay, so flourishing in the eighteenth century, animated by the spirit of fervour which distinguished the early Christians, solemnized the Feast of Corpus Christi with all the pomp which their piety, aided by their resources, could suggest. They adorned the church and all the roads which the procession was to pass. Being only reclaimed savages, their decorations were entirely rustic; but they were in such variety and profusion as to vie with our most expensive ornaments at home. Waving palms, scented laurels and myrtles, blooming orange-trees, intermingled with wreaths and festoons of beautiful flowers and fruits, lined the streets, while triumphal arches spanned the larger spaces. The caciques furnished peacocks, parrots, and other birds of gorgeous plumage, which, tied by a string, flitted gaily over the heads of the precisionists. Here and there stags and wild beasts were tied to stakes, or caged. All kinds of creatures were brought to render homage to their Creator. The air was laden with perfumes from odoriferous herbs strewn on the way.
After Mass, at which nearly every one received Communion, the procession was formed in European fashion.
A few companies of soldiers led the way, to the sound of many musical instruments unknown to us, and occasional discharges of musketry. Next came the men, afterwards the women. The viceregent, chiefs, captains, judges, other officials preceded or accompanied the Blessed Sacrament. Different choirs and bands alternated in sacred melodies, and pious enthusiasm pervaded the whole.
When the ceremony was over, the fowl, fruits, and vegetables were given to the strangers, or set aside for invalids. Those who came from a distance were hospitably entertained. Several conversations generally followed so edifying a spectacle.