Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi

By Fr. Morgan Rice

When people find out that I am from Corpus Christi, Texas, they sometimes ask, “How many people living there actually know what the name means in English?” I wonder myself. Except for Catholics and those who studied Latin, many probably would not know that Corpus Christi means “body of Christ”. It is a name that drew attention in the early 1980s when the U.S. Navy wanted to honour my hometown, which is a significant naval centre, by naming a submarine the “USS Corpus Christi”. Catholics protested that a name that is associated with life and nonviolence would be inappropriate for a warship. As a result, the Navy named the submarine the “USS City of Corpus Christi”. “Corpus Christi” is the name that is still commonly used to refer to today’s feast day, which Pope Urban IV first decreed in the 13th century. While the papal decree called for its celebration on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday as a way to associate it with Holy Thursday and the institution of the Eucharist, some countries celebrate it on Sunday. Whichever day it is celebrated, the feast highlights the mystery of the Real Presence of Jesus in the bread and wine that become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit at Mass. While the mystery can never be fully explained in words, it does speak of God’s power to do more than we can imagine and of God’s desire to nourish and care for us so that we might experience eternal communion with God. It is beautifully described in Lauda Sion, the pre-Gospel Sequence written by St. Thomas. An excerpt follows:

Bread yourself, good Shepherd, tend us; Jesus, with your love befriend us. You refresh us and defend us; to your lasting goodness send us that the land of life we see.

May the nourishment we receive from the Eucharist remind us of the heavenly banquet for which we hope and truly make us “one body, one spirit in Christ” as we make known Jesus’ loving and true presence to all we meet.

Sunday’s Readings:

  • Genesis 14.18-20
  • Psalm 110
  • 1 Corinthians 11.23-26
  • Luke 9.11b-17

Next Sunday’s Readings:

  • 1 Kings 19.16b, 19-21
  • Psalm 16
  • Galatians 5.1, 13-18
  • Luke 9.51-62