Half of adult Catholics are unaware of the church’s teaching that the eucharistic bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ.
That fact, reported in the 2013 book American Catholics in Transition, makes me even more grateful for the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, known more simply as Corpus Christi. First celebrated in 1246 in Belgium, it was declared a feast for the entire church by Pope Urban IV in 1264. (St. Thomas Aquinas was asked to write the songs and prayers for the feast day Mass, including the familiar hymn Pange Lingua.) This year, we celebrate it on June 23.
Corpus Christi is one of my favorite feasts. Parishes hold eucharistic processions, bringing Jesus outside the church and through neighborhoods, with children tossing flower petals to pave the way with fragrance and beauty. Parishioners sing hymns, and when the monstrance holding the consecrated host is held aloft, the crowd adores Jesus — not something you see every day on our city streets. We feel Jesus’ absolute power and peace. He is still truly with us, 2,000 years after his death, resurrection and ascension.
An essential ingredient in passing on the truth of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist lies within each Catholic home, according to Lisa Pozzi, pastoral assistant for children’s sacramental preparation and youth ministry at Holy Spirit Parish in Kent.
Children spend limited time in parish catechetical programs, Pozzi said, so it’s important that they are attending Mass with their families and learning to be reverent when they’re in church.
“If they don’t understand that Jesus is in the tabernacle — and showing that reverence through example from their family — it makes it a lot harder to teach that this is something special, that this is something unique, that this is something holy,” Pozzi said.
Parents at the parish also attend classes, she said, and they study a pamphlet about the Real Presence published by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“A lot of them have questions too,” Pozzi said, “like ‘How could it be true?’”
Holly Renz, Holy Spirit’s pastoral assistant for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, shares a DVD with her classes on eucharistic miracles. RCIA members also attend adoration together, to encounter the Lord Jesus personally, Renz said.
As St. John Paul II wrote in his 2004 apostolic letter Mane Nobiscum Domine: “Faith demands that we approach the Eucharist fully aware that we are approaching Christ himself. … The Eucharist is a mystery of presence, the perfect fulfilment of Jesus’ promise to remain with us until the end of the world.”
And not only does Jesus give himself to us in the Eucharist, St. John Paul II continued, but the sacrament also unifies the world’s 1 billion-plus Catholics as one body, called to promote communion with all of humanity.
To celebrate the centrality of the Eucharist in our lives, I crafted a tissue paper “stained-glass window” featuring a chalice and host. Because the Eucharist is described as a “mystery of light,” it’s very appropriate to have light be what brings this craft to life!
Qui mandúcat meam carnem, et bibit meum sánguinem, in me manet, et ego in illo. (Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.)
Chalice and host window art
Black construction paper or cardstock
Tissue paper, in many colors
Cut a rectangle of parchment paper about 9 by 11 inches. In the middle, measure and mark off an area of 5½ by 8½ inches. Cut ½-inch strips of black paper or cardstock, two of them 8½ inches long, and two 5½ inches long. These will be used to create a “frame.” Arrange the strips on the top side of the parchment paper, along the edges of the marked-off area. Glue in place with the glue pen.
Cut shapes and lines from the black paper to create the rest of your desired design. Arrange these inside the frame area on top of the parchment paper. Secure in place with the glue pen.
When dry, flip over the parchment paper to begin gluing pieces of tissue paper on the back. Using a paintbrush, spread school glue in a section. Carefully press the chosen color of tissue paper onto the glued area. Repeat for each section, changing up the colors to create the desired look. Let dry. Cut away the excess parchment paper from around the outside of the frame.
Tape to a sunny window and enjoy!
Northwest Catholic - June 2019