The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, previously known as the feast of Corpus Cristi (Latin for Body of Christ) has its origins in France and was extended to the whole Church by Pope Urban IV in 1264 following an instance of a Eucharistic miracle. A miracle was most commonly performed by God for the purpose of convincing the listeners of the authority of the messenger. We find many examples of these miracles in the Bible where these individuals, who are sent directly by God where God performs these supernatural signs through the messengers to prove that they were indeed speaking God’s Word. Examples like in the Book of Exodus where we find Moses performing miracle upon miracle to convince the Pharaoh to release the Jewish people. Convincing the crowds of his authority was significant if they were to listen to him and so Jesus too performed many miracles that they would “believe [his] deeds, in order that [his listeners] may know once and for all that the Father is in [him] and that [he is] in the Father.” (John 10:37-38)
And so this miracle that a doubting priest contemporary to Pope Urban IV proved to this priest that the consecrated bread and wine did indeed become the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ just as Jesus said it was at the Last Supper when he pronounced the words of consecration. He lifted up the bread and said: “Take it; this is my body.” It was no longer ordinary bread and wine but truly His Body and Blood. So we do in fact have extra-ordinary events, by that I mean unexplainable by scientific means, that prove the message of the True Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist. But as the Lord said to ‘doubting’ Thomas in John 20, verse 29, when he finally touched the wounds of Christ and believed: “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Many have done just that, they have believed even when their senses tell them otherwise. We find in the writings of the early Christians, people throughout history who believed in the actual presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
It makes perfect sense to believe in the True Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist since the words of Jesus himself tells us so. He raises a piece of bread and says “this is my Body” and earlier on in his ministry Jesus also said of the bread of life that the bread we are to eat is His flesh, he said: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”(John 6:51) The flesh that Jesus gave up for the life of the world was true flesh and the bread that Jesus tells us that we are to eat is this same flesh, His flesh.
Paul also warns anyone who partakes of the Eucharist in an unworthy manner that he is guilty of sinning against the Body and Blood of the Lord (1 Cor 11:27) because “anyone who eats [the bread] and drinks [the wine] without discerning the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” (1 Cor 11:29) How can one discern the body of the Lord if it’s not the body of the Lord? To discern it as the body of the Lord means that the bread is, in fact, the body of the Lord.
And so, if one partakes of the Body and Blood of our Lord in an unworthy manner, ie with mortal sin on his soul then my advice to him is to abstain from receiving until he has a chance to have his sins forgiven by going to confession. Otherwise you are bringing judgment upon yourself and putting the salvation of your own soul at risk. Paul explains it this way: “That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have [died].” (1 Cor 11:30)
Prepared by a St-Denis parishoner