Skip to comments.Homily of Pope Benedict XVI for the Feast of Corpus Christi
Posted on 05/27/2005 6:34:40 AM PDT by TaxachusettsMan
[Tr. note: the Pope uses the expression "Corpus Domini" - which is the popular Latin title for the feast in Italy; the feast called "Corpus Christi" in most English-speaking countries. Its official title in the post-Vatican II liturgical calendar (which combines it with the old July 1 feast of the Precious Blood) is "Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ."]
In the feast of Corpus Christi, the Church relives the mystery of Holy Thursday in the light of the Resurrection. Holy Thursday, too, knows its own eucharistic procession, with which the Church repeats the exodus of Jesus from the Cenacle to the Mount of Olives. In Israel, the night of Passover is celebrated in the home, in the intimacy of the family; thus the memory is kept of the first Passover, in Egypt of the night in which the blood of the paschal lamb, sprinkled on the doorposts and lintels of the houses, protected them against the exterminator. Jesus, in that night, goes forth and consigns himself into the hands of the traitor, of the exterminator, and, precisely in that way, conquers the night, conquers the darkness of evil. Only thus does the gift of the Eucharist, instituted in the Cenacle, achieve its fulfillment: Jesus really gives his body and his blood. Passing over the threshold of death, he becomes the Living Bread, the true Manna, the inexhaustible nourishment for all the ages. His flesh becomes the Bread of Life.
In the procession of Holy Thursday, the Church accompanies Jesus to the Mount of Olives: it is the living desire of the praying Church to keep vigil with Jesus, not to leave him alone in the night of the world, in the night of betrayal, in the night of indifference on the part of so many. In the feast of Corpus Christi, let us resume that procession, but in the joy of the Resurrection. The Lord is risen and goes before us. In the accounts of the Resurrection there is a common and essential feature; the angels say: the Lord goes before you into Galilee; there you shall see him (Matthew 28:7). Considering this more closely, we are able to say that this going before of Jesus implies a two-fold direction. The first is as we have heard to Galilee. In Israel, Galilee was considered to be the gateway toward the world of the pagans. And in reality, it was precisely in Galilee, on the mountain, that the disciples saw Jesus, the Lord, who told them: Go . . . and teach all the nations (Matthew 28:19). The other direction of the Risen Ones going before appears in the Gospel of Saint John, in the words of Jesus to Magdalen: Do not cling to me, for I have not yet gone to the Father . . . (John 20:17). Jesus goes before us toward the Father, goes forth to the heights of God and invites us to follow him. These two directions of the path of the Risen One do not contradict each other, but indicate together the way of the following of Christ. The true destination of our path is communion with God God himself is the house of many mansions (see John 14:2 ff). But we are able to go forth to this place only by going toward Galilee going along the streets of the world, carrying the Gospel to all the nations, carrying the gift of his love for all people of all time. Therefore the way of the apostles extends even to the ends of the earth (see Acts 1:6 ff); thus Saint Peter and Saint Paul traveled even as far as Rome, the city that was then the center of the known world, truly caput mundi (Tr. note: the head of the world, an appropriate reference remembering that the Pope is delivering this homily in the square in front of St. John Lateran whose façade bears those words).
The procession of Holy Thursday accompanies Jesus in his solitude, toward the way of the cross. The procession of Corpus Christi, by way of contrast, responds in a symbolic way to the command of the Risen One: I go before you to Galilee. Go to the very ends of the world; carry the Gospel to the world. Certainly, the Eucharist is, by faith, a mystery of intimacy. The Lord instituted the Sacrament in the Cenacle, surrounded by his new family, of the twelve apostles, a prefigurement and anticipation of the Church of all times. Therefore, in the liturgy of the ancient Church, the distribution of holy communion was introduced with the words: Sancta sanctis the holy Gift is destined for those who have been made holy. In this way, the invitation corresponds to the admonition of Saint Paul to the Corinthians: Take care, above all, to examine yourselves, and only then, eat of this bread and drink of this chalice (1 Corinthians 11:28). Nevertheless, from this intimacy, which is the most personal gift of the Lord, the power of the sacrament of the Eucharist goes beyond the boundaries of our churches. In this Sacrament, the Lord is always on the path toward the world. This universal aspect of the eucharistic presence appears in the procession of our feast. Let us carry Christ, present in the figure of bread, along the streets of our city. Let us entrust these streets, these houses our daily lives to his goodness. Let our streets be the streets of Jesus! Let our houses be houses for him and with him! Let our lives, every day, be penetrated with his presence. With this action, let us hold up before his eyes the sufferings of those who are ill, the loneliness of young people and of the elderly, the temptations, the fears every part of our lives. The procession intends to be a great and public blessing for this city of ours: Christ is, in person, the divine blessing for the world the radius of his blessing embraces all of us (Tr. note: or, the shining beam of his blessing is extended over all of us)!
In the procession of Corpus Christi, let us accompany the Risen One on his way toward the whole world as we have said. And, precisely in doing this, let us respond also to his command: Take and eat . . . Drink of this, all of you (Matthew 26:26 ff). One is not to eat the Risen One, present in the figure of bread, as a simple piece of bread. To eat this bread is to communicate, to enter into communion with the person of the living Lord. This communion, this act of to eat, is really an encounter between two persons, is permitting oneself to be penetrated by the life of Him who is the Lord, of Him who is my Creator and Redeemer. The aim of this communion is the assimilation of my life into his, my transformation and conforming to him who is the living Beloved (Tr. note: or, simply, the living Love). Therefore, this communion involves (Tr. note: or, implies) adoration, involves (implies) the will to follow Christ, to follow Him who goes before us. Adoration and procession, therefore, form part of the great single act of communion; they respond to his command: Take and eat.
Our procession concludes in front of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, in the encounter with the Madonna, called by our dear Pope John Paul II the eucharistic Woman. Truly Mary, the Mother of the Lord, teaches us how to enter into communion with Christ: Mary has offered her own flesh, her own blood to Jesus and has become the living abode of the Word, permitting herself to be penetrated in body and in spirit with his presence. Let us pray to Her, our holy Mother, that she may help us to open ourselves, ever more fully, to the presence of Christ; to help us to follow him faithfully, day by day, along streets of our life. Amen!
In time, no doubt, the OFFICIAL English translation will be posted on the Vatican website.
But after hearing the homily live, via the Internet, I just had to translate it - even if quickly and "unofficially" - for all those, priests and laity, whom I know will want to read what is truly a MAGNIFICENT HOMILY - and have it NOW - since in the USA we celebrate Corpus Christi on this coming Sunday.
This shy and retiring professor, who feared (according to his memoirs) that he would never be able "to connect with people" has done - so far - at least in my humble opinion - a magnificent job!
Just delight in the associations he pulls together in this homily, in the images he conjures, the word-pictures he paints - and, of course, in the solid, orthodox theology - NOTE: related to our daily lives!!! - over and over again!
And the paragraph on Mary!
Hey, Reverend Fathers: just print the homily up and READ IT WORD FOR WORD to your people on Sunday!!!!
My apologies, in advance, for any mistranslations or infelicitous turns of phrase!
Thank you! (or should I say "Grazie mille!"?)
Thanks for the ping. I went to the website and read the homily in Italian. For me the best and most powerful phrase is: 'Il Signore e risorto e ci precede.' The image of Our Lord now leading us in the procession, is very moving for me.
I was totally transfixed on all the groups that processed last night. All of those beautiful and ancient banners with images of the Blessed Mother, the costumes that date back centuries. And the newer groups, also carrying the symbols of their office, large images and colorful outfits. Surely this pope will continue to inspire the world as we fix our eyes on these celebrations.
Thank you, Mother Angelica, for EWTN!!
Yes, my own - I hope (think!) it's accurate! But when they finally publish the OFFICIAL English one - don't report me to CDF for messing it up! :-)
I watched most of it last night. I couldn't stay up to watch it all. I will finish watching it tonight. I liked the uniforms that had (what appeared to be a scapular with) a black and red cross. The commentators were very helpful in explaining that besides for their own parishes' patronal feasts, the Corpus Christi procession is the only time that all of these groups come out to process in the streets of Rome. It must be quite a wonderful and fun experience. How I would love to live in Rome, again.
I also found interesting the facts the commentators presented about the other churches, convents, etc. along Via Merulana (?) and how at the midpoint of the road between the two major basilicas one can see both basilicas. I will have to check that out the next time I'm in Rome.
I watched it on the actual Vatican website: www.vatican.va = then you click news services, and Vatican Television.
And, by the way, it's just after 5 PM in Rome right now, and I just called Archbishop Marini's office and got to speak (in my broken Italian!) with one of the assistant Masters of Ceremony to thank them for all their assiduous attention to detail during the funeral liturgy of Pope John Paul II, the rites leading up to the Conclave, the Mass to Inaugurate the Pontificate and yesterday's Mass and Procession.
He was genuinely touched to be hearing from someone in the United States and thanked me/us profusely for our thank-you for all their work!
"just print the homily up and READ IT WORD FOR WORD to your people on Sunday!!!!"
Its a shame we celebrated the Solemnity yesterday, otherwise I would have done! :(
I liked the uniforms that had (what appeared to be a scapular with) a black and red cross.
Those are the Heralds of the Gospel. They're a lay community that make temporary commitments to this way of life. They have a small residence here, and a couple of them show up regularly at St. Patrick's, where they get put to work in processions, etc. Good fellows.
I also found interesting the facts the commentators presented about the other churches, convents, etc. along Via Merulana
Yep, you spelled it right! I enjoyed that advice also and look forward to exploiting it.
It strikes me this (from the Gospel, of course) has important applicability to the theology of liturgical orientation.
Congratulations and thanks for a splendid job.
Very interesting. Where is "here" - that is, where do you live?
Also, they seemed to be wearing the Cross of St. James (Santiago). Any significance to that? Thanks.
Hadn't thought of that, but now that you mention it, it seems obvious.
I live in New Orleans. I don't know of any Jacobite association, but when I see them on Sunday I'll ask.
We have a group of the Heralds here in Houston as well, and they come to our parish (Our Lady of Walsingham) for important events, such as last Sunday's confirmations by the Coadjutor Archbishop.
From my brief discussions with them, I gather that their charism is to evangelize (higher) culture; thus they have some very good choirs and reasonably good small instrumental orchestras. One can find their CDs on the net, I believe; I have one and it is worth the price of the whole thing just to hear their rendition (in Portugese on that CD) of the Pontifical Hymn "Roma Immortale". They sang it in English at our parish one time, the congregation standing, at the conclusion of a concert they had put on. The effect was absolutely electrifying.
You can see photos of one of the Heralds' visits to OLOW (among other things) at:
I attended Mass at your parish on Palm Sunday, 2003. That was while your new church was still under construction. I was captivated and charmed by your fellow parishioners, and came away thinking that if I ever lived in Houston your parish would be the first one I'd check out.
Thank you for the time and effort you expended to make it happen - I have no doubt you were inspired by the Blessed Trinity. Praise God Almighty for His wondrously works as manifested through the work of His faithful servants.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.