1 Cor. 10:1-4, 16-17
“Blessed, praised, hallowed and adored be our Lord Jesus Christ on his throne of glory in heaven, in the most Holy Sacrament of the altar, and in the hearts of all his faithful people.” So goes a prayer said by some priests when they return to the sacristy after a Eucharist.
Today we celebrate “The Body and Blood of Christ”, or “Corpus Christi”. It’s a feast added to the calendar in the 13th century as a way to celebrate the institution of the Eucharist outside Holy Week. Maundy Thursday, of course, celebrates the institution of the Eucharist, but there’s so much going on otherwise that day that it was felt we needed another occasion to commemorate this event and in a more festive way than is possible in the shadows of the Passion.
The Episcopal Church web site speaks of a certain ambivalence towards the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the feast we celebrate today. The ambivalence is born from the differing points of view concerning the traditional focus of the feast, namely the Real Presence (capital “R,” capital “P”) of Jesus Christ in the sacrament. Real Presence refers to Jesus Christ is being really present in the consecrated bread and wine, and not present in some lesser way. But what do we mean by “really” present?
1 Cor. 11:23-29; Jn 6:47-58
Today we are keeping the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, historically called Corpus Christi. On this solemn feast day we acknowledge and celebrate the meaning of the Holy Eucharist wherein we are spiritually fed by the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ under the forms of consecrated bread and wine, and fed also by the prayers of the whole Church.
All of the Post Communion prayers that we use during the year recognize the importance that the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist has for us, but there is one of those that I think particularly points up that importance in ways that go beyond our daily spiritual nourishment to touch on the cosmic dimensions of what takes place when we have participated in this Holy Sacrament. That is the prayer that begins with the words, “God of abundance”.