‘Christ the Lord is the bread of life: come, let us adore him.’ (Invitatory antiphon)
Parades, processions, pilgrimages, and marches have always been part of our cultural, secular and faith tradition since ancient times. During this time of Covid-19, restrictions were placed on such events. These assemblies bring people together for a common purpose. While people recognise the power of one person to influence a situation, it is a fact that ‘together we can do more.’ Once again, the words of the political figures and medical authorities ring in our ears as we hear during the pandemic, ‘we are all in this together.’ Worldwide protests supporting ‘Black Lives Matter’ speak for voices that are not heard.
ABOUT THE SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST
An annual tradition in the Catholic and Anglican Church is the Corpus Christi procession, though not as popular in Ireland today as in former times. The Feast of Corpus Christi, ‘Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ’ celebrates the ‘Real Presence of the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the elements of the Eucharist’.
Two months ago on the feast of Holy Thursday, Jesus shared the Last Supper with his apostles, which was the eve of his death on the cross. On Holy Thursday we also recall Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, the institution of priesthood and the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.
This Solemnity of ‘The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ’ focuses particularly on the Eucharist and is celebrated in the liturgical calendar on the Sunday after Trinity Sunday.
A procession might take place through the streets of a town or in a parish where people pray and sing in honour of the Blessed Sacrament. During the procession, the consecrated host is displayed in a monstrance held at a height by the priest. At the conclusion of the procession, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament takes place.
It is customary for the Pope to hold a ‘Corpus Christi’ procession each year in Rome. It begins at the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran and passes to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, where it concludes with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
The readings and the Gospel (Jn 6:51-58) proclaimed at Mass today, may be heard via the webcam or read in the Old and the New Testament.
The first reading today from the Book of Deuteronomy (Deut 8:2-3, 14-16) reminds God’s people of the journey through the desert for 40 years in which God led the people under the leadership of Moses. On the way, God gave them manna to eat, making them understand that God’s people ‘live not on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ God’s people remember God’s saving love so to lead them to eternal life, having been tested, tried and humbled by God.
In St John’s Gospel, we hear the words of Jesus proclaimed as he reveals himself, ‘I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.’ Jesus told the Jews that ‘anyone who eats this bread will live forever.’ This is our hope, the promise of eternal life, to be with God for everlasting life. God’s people can receive the Body of Christ when they attend Mass. Even during this time of pandemic, the faithful make a spiritual communion which keeps them in Jesus’ presence.
SEEK GOD’S LOVE IN THE GROW IN LOVE RELIGIOUS EDUCATION PROGRAMME
So what can children learn today from their life experience and the Grow in Love programme that enables them to have a deeper understanding of the ‘Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ’?
Children through their prayer and reflection on life experience, and Scripture are inspired by the Holy Spirit to grow in relationship with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is Creator and has created each person in a unique way with individual gifts and talents. God desires a personal relationship him/her. Children grow in God’s love and friendship as they experience the love and friendship of their family and friends. They are also invited to grow in faith as they pray, discuss their faith, read Scripture, show kindness, attend Mass and receive the Body of Christ so they are nourished to love God and one another.
In preparation to receive Holy Communion, the Body of Christ for the first time, children receive the sacrament of Reconciliation at which God forgives their sins.
On listening to the reading from the Book of Deuteronomy; the children recall the story of Moses and how God called Moses to lead the people from slavery into the Promised Land. This journey took a long time. The people travelled with Moses. They celebrated the Passover meal before they began the journey out of slavery. Along the way, the people complained to Moses. They had no food and God provided them with manna. Children recognise the difficulties crossing through the desert- the story of slavery, the snakes, scorpions, arid land, with no water or food. But God provided. He desired their freedom.
In the New Testament, the children recall what happened at the Last Supper. This was the last Passover celebration for Jesus. Every year, Jesus as a Jewish boy and his family celebrated the Passover festival in honour of God leading the Jewish people from slavery.
At the Last Supper, Jesus blessed the bread and wine, gave it to the apostles and said ‘This is my Body. This is my Blood.’ He said, ‘Do this in memory of me’. Each time Mass is celebrated the assembly of people remember what happened at the Last Supper. With Jesus they offer themselves in love as sacrifice with the gifts of bread and wine.
Children identify the parts of the Mass. They are taught that Mass is a sacrifice and a celebration. They explore the Liturgy of Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. They recognise that Jesus is present at Mass in the priest, in the assembly of people gathered, in the Word and in the appearance of bread and wine. They are taught that at the Consecration of the Mass, by the action of the Holy Spirit that the bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ.
The people receive the Body of Christ in Holy Communion, which nourishes them to share the Good News and act in a loving way. It also nourishes their faith in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Children also learn that the Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist take Holy Communion to people who are sick and housebound.
They also are taught that Jesus is reserved as the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle in sacramental form. The sanctuary lamp on the altar is lighting to show that Jesus is present in the tabernacle.
When there is a prayer of Adoration or benediction, the Blessed Sacrament, the consecrated host is taken out of the tabernacle and placed in the monstrance on the altar. People gather in the Church to pray silently to Jesus, in adoration and thanksgiving.
Children might also pray the prayers before and after Holy Communion accessible in the Grow in Love e-books on the back pages from First Class/P3 to Sixth Class. Personally, children address Jesus and pray such words as, ‘Jesus I love and adore you’, ‘Make me strong to show your love’, ‘Lord Jesus friend of children, come to me’, ‘You are my Lord and my God.’
Resources are available on the VERITAS website to support the understanding of this Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. From Junior Infants/P1, the children are taught about the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist throughout each theme. There are specific resources accessible on The Mass.
READ from Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé:
‘God is Love’ (1 Jn 4:7-8), ‘The New Commandment’ (Jn 13:34-5), ‘Parable of the Real Vine’ (John 15:1, 4-5, 7-10, 16-17), 1 Corinthians 11:23-5, ‘The Walk to Emmaus’ (Lk 24: 13-35).
SING from Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé:
‘Céad Míle Fáilte Romhat’, ‘Parish Anthem’, ‘ The Great Commandment’, ‘Eat This Bread’, ‘Ithigí an t-Arán Seo’, ‘We Come To Your Feast’, ‘The Welcome Table’, ‘The Servant Song’, ‘O Sacrament Most Holy’, ‘Go Tell Everyone’, ‘Whatsoever You Do’, ‘I Watch the Sunrise’, ‘Mass Setting-Bernard Sexton’.
PRAY from Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé:
INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION
Celebrant: Behold the Lamb of God,
behold him who takes away the sins of the world.
Blessed are those who are called to the supper
of the Lamb.
People: Lord, I am not worthy
that you should enter under my roof,
but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.
DEASGNÁTH NA COMAOINEACH
CUIREADH CHUIG COMAOINEACH NAOFA
Sagart: Seo é Uan Dé, seo é an té
a thógann peacaí an domhain. Is
méanar dóibh siúd a fuair cuireadh
chun séire an Uain.
Pobal: A Thiarna, ní fiú mé go dtiocfá
faoi mo dhian,
ach abairse an focal
agus leigheasfar m’anam.
WHEN RECEIVING HOLY COMMUNION
Celebrant: The Body of Christ.
AG GLACADH COMAOINEACH
Sagart: Corp Chríost.
ACT OF SPIRITUAL COMMUNION (during the pandemic)
My Jesus, I believe that You are in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love You above all things, and I long for You in my soul.
Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart.
As though You have already come, I embrace You and unite myself entirely to You;
never permit me to be separated from You.
‘I am the living bread which came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever, alleluia.’(Benedictus antiphon)
‘O praise the Lord, Jerusalem! alleuia.’(Psalm 147:12)
‘O sacred feast in which we partake of Christ: his sufferings are remembered, our minds are filled with his grace and we receive a pledge of the glory that is to be ours, alleluia.’ (Magnificat antiphon)
‘It is in the Eucharist that all that has been created finds its greatest exaltation. Grace, which tends to manifest itself tangibly, found unsurpassable expression when God himself became man and gave himself as food for his creatures… In the Eucharist fulness is already achieved; it is the living centre of the universe, the overflowing core of love and of inexhaustible life. Joined to the incarnate Son, present in the Eucharist, the whole cosmos give thanks to God.’ (Laudato Si’, no. 236)
Sr Anne Neylon