Solemnity of the Feast of Corpus Christi
As Catholics we are blessed with this marvelous feast to celebrate and encounter the mysterious presence of the Lord Jesus with the community and personally. Our Church teaches us that the Holy Eucharist is truly the “source and summit of the Christian life.” At Holy Mass, when the bread and the wine are substantially changed and become the Body and Blood of Christ given for our salvation, our attention is focused on our Lord, who suffered and died for us, and on his real presence in the Holy Eucharist.
This feast calls us to deepen our devotion to the Holy Eucharist as “the bread of life,” the gift that blesses us with the real, living and saving presence of our Savior for which human hearts long. It challenges us to transform our own lives into the likeness of Christ, who lived, died and rose from death that we may have eternal life. This solemnity provides us with the opportunity to profess again the value of human life, in contrast to the prevailing culture of death and an environment that is too ready to abort life, too ready to cast aside our brothers and sisters who are considered different or vulnerable, too ready to dispose of persons considered a burden to our society.
Indeed, the Church is also the Body of Christ, as Jesus shares intimate communion with his disciples. Saint John Paul II reminded us that in commemorating this solemnity: “The Church does not only celebrate the Eucharist but solemnly bears it in procession, publicly proclaiming that the sacrifice of Christ is for the salvation of the whole world.” So we are encouraged to not only attend Holy Mass but also to develop special devotion to the Holy Eucharist – attend Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and spend time in prayerful adoration as a pledge of our love and an offering of ourselves in ministry for others.
So I ask that this feast and our Eucharistic devotions focus especially on our need for priestly and religious vocations to serve the Church, the Body of Christ, in this local diocese. Parents are called to foster vocations in their families, and priests and deacons are to encourage the young people in their parishes. Our Eucharistic devotions and our response to his love will not go unheard by our loving Lord, who promised to watch over his church.
As I related in my Pastoral Letter A Springtime of the New Evangelization, “… knowledge of Christ leads us to the celebration of our faith in the Eucharist, where we encounter the living presence of the risen Christ. We find our Catholic identity in the celebration of the Holy Mass and other sacraments. These are the channels of God’s graces, the fountain of new life, nourishment, forgiveness and other spiritual gifts.”
Jesus himself told his disciples “do this,” giving them the command to repeat his own actions by which he gave us his own Body and Blood. From then on, the Eucharist has been the center and pattern of the life of the Church. I encourage you to celebrate this June 18, 2017 Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ as befits us as the Catholic community of faith we are called to be. This is a great opportunity for all of us to recapture our respect, awe and reverence in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, the living bread from heaven. Let us renew our pledge of undivided love, worship and devotion in the holy sacrament that invites all people to transcend the boundaries of race, culture, language and social status in order to gather around the altar of sacrifice as brothers and sisters, members of one God’s family.
In this great sacrament, we celebrate our Catholic faith and identity as a worshipping Eucharistic community with joy and enthusiasm, knowing and believing that Christ Our Lord offers his own body and blood for the nourishment of our soul and body. Pope Francis reminded us: “The Eucharist moves us always to follow the Lord every day, to be instruments of communion, to share with him and with our neighbor who we are.” In the Holy Mass, may we receive God’s great gift of salvation to transform our hearts, find strength and inspiration and remain steadfast in our commitment to build a community of love, justice and peace.
+ Oscar A. Solis
Bishop of Salt Lake City