What follows is an abbreviated version of Bishop Fellay’s sermon on this feast at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Kansas City, Missouri. He has a copy of the text and if he has any corrections for me I will publish them.
We celebrate today the great feast of Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ. The Church wants us to consider this absolutely extraordinary reality of God made flesh.
He wants to come into our souls and body to be our special food. We already celebrated this during Holy Week, but since our thoughts were directed to the Passion, we celebrate it again as a feast. Hence we see the Alleluias again that were reserved for Paschal Time.
Let us discuss some points of this mystery.
When we deal with the Sacred Host, the Eucharist, we must link to the Passion. And such a link is even more easily made when one considers the Eucharistic miracle of Orvieto – when a priest who had doubts about the Blessed Sacrament was given the consolation of seeing drops of blood fall onto the corporal after he pronounced the words of Consecration.
If you look around, many Catholics and priests, maybe 40%, maybe not as high in the older priests, deny the Real Presence. Inevitably, those who deny the Real Presence will also deny the divinity of Christ.
What makes us believe in this stupendous mystery – in the mystery of the Blessed Sacrament? Only the words of Our Lord – This is my body. If I pick up this book and say “this is a bird,” nothing happens. When God speaks, he makes reality. When He said, let there be light, fiat lux, there was light. When he said “see” one could see, and when he asked Lazarus to be raised from the dead, Lazarus was so raised. And when He says this is my body, it is the same. Hence we say mysterium fidei – the mystery of faith. To think God dared to entrust the might of his word to a priest is indeed a great mystery.
And what is the priest doing? Commemorating the Passion – adoremus in aeternum sanctissimam sacramentum. This Passion which followed the Last Supper in which Christ gave Himself as our food. Indeed, we want Him to be our food – our interior life. Yet, we don’t speak of a commemoration banquet, for though the Last Supper was a meal, it was primarily a Sacrifice. He is the host that has come to us through this Sacrifice – He invites us as host, and offers Himself as a meal, as the host.
This is the crux of the Mass – the sacrifice – the death – the separation of flesh and blood. What He offers on the Cross He offers on the altar – He re-presents this to us. He died for me, He suffered for me, He delivered himself up for me because He loves me, He wants to save me. The adoration brings us to the thought of the Redemption – the only way to be saved is through Him. Those who eat, shall be saved. But what of those who die before consuming Him? St. Thomas provides us with an extraordinary explanation.
There are two levels of grace conferred in a sacrament, with the second one dependent on the intentions and desire of the faithful. Hence, we have Spiritual Communion – or “Communion of desire.” The grace of unity with God is desired in Holy Communion, and the fruits of that desire are given to the soul even before actually receiving Communion.
It is the same with Confession – a soul that has perfect contrition already receives absolution before attending Confession. Of course, the soul must go at the earliest available opportunity. Hence we can see that a desire for the grace can indeed give us that grace.
So too we have Baptism of Desire…and Baptism is indeed the sacrament by which we are oriented and directed towards the Eucharist, for it is the summit and source of all the sacraments. We have thus created within ourselves a desire for Him. This desire for Communion is the unity of the Church – to be one body with Christ – thus incorporating with the Mystical Body. We could go on and on about this great mystery.
Religion is not a private matter. Today we are told not to mess with society, to keep to ourselves. Let’s have a temple or church where everyone can socialize together. But this is false! Humanity has been created by God and hence it has the duty to love, serve, and obey him.
When we go into the street today with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament in a solemn procession, we proclaim the sovereignty of Jesus Christ over all – not just over Catholics, but over everyone. We want to invite those poor souls who have no knowledge of God that many be touched by this grace. Most especially those who hurt him. Hence in this celebration we also have reparation.
In the Eucharist, the love of God is made visible. Let us bring hearts – rather double hearts – ours and the ones of all those not with us – in a double supplication – that God may be glorified in all.
Published on the Octave Day of Corpus Christi (Major Double)