The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (the feast of Corpus Christi) is the celebration of Christ’s Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist. As Our Lord is carried through the streets of cities and villages around the world, the faithful give public witness to their faith and devotion to the Holy Eucharist.
Such processions have been undertaken for eight centuries, and they have brought many to a deeper spirituality. St. Faustina, the Polish saint who brought forth the Divine Mercy devotion, witnessed several profound experiences with Jesus during Corpus Christi processions.
In her diary, she wrote, “Once, the image was being exhibited over the altar during the Corpus Christi procession [June 20, 1935]. When the priest exposed the Blessed Sacrament, and the choir began to sing, the rays from the image pierced the Sacred Host and spread out all over the world .”
St. Faustina also saw the mercy rays piercing the sacred Host in another procession, “I saw the same rays coming forth from the Sacred Host, just as they are painted in the image. My soul was filled with great longing for God ,” she wrote.
In many ways, Jesus made himself known to the young saint as she took part in various Corpus Christi processions. “… I heard a voice coming from the Host: ‘Here is My repose.’ During Benediction, Jesus gave me to know that soon a solemn moment would take place on this very spot ,” she wrote.
In another Corpus Christi procession, Jesus and St. Faustina would comfort each other as during the way of the cross when He meets Veronica or like a bride and her Groom setting each other’s hearts afire as St. Faustina states, “June 1, 1937. Today, the Corpus Christi procession took place. At the first altar, a flame issued from the Host and pierced my heart, and I heard a voice, Here is My resting place. Ardor burst into flame in my heart. I felt that I am transformed completely into Him .”
St. Faustina’s health was often frail and on several occasions, she received the anointing of the sick thinking she might die. Often she was weak but during the processions, Jesus made up for what she lacked in health as St. Faustina wrote, “I felt so weak that I lost all hope of participating in the procession … I said to the Lord, ‘Jesus, if my prayers are pleasing to You, give me the strength for this moment that I may take part in the procession.’ At that same instant, I felt strong and certain that I could go along with the sisters in the procession .”
There are many graces to be found in walking the streets in solemn procession with Jesus. All are invited to walk with their eyes fixed on Jesus. People pray, sing, process, as the clergy bless the four corners of the earth* with the Lord at four different altars in order to place the planet under His protection. The four Gospels are also proclaimed to cleanse the four winds of the earth** from evil spirits as when Jesus says to St. Faustina during the Corpus Christi procession, “These rays of mercy will pass through you, just as they have passed through this Host, and they will go out through all the world .”
*Why do we have four altars? “The number four symbolizes the four corners of the earth that is, the whole universe, the world in which we live. The blessing was imparted in four directions with the intention of putting them under the protection of the Eucharistic Lord.” – Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
**Why do we read the four Gospels? “The four Gospels express the same thing; for they are inspired, they are the breath of the Holy Spirit, and their fourfold number expresses the world-embracing power of God’s Word and God’s Spirit. The beginning of the Gospel stands for the whole; uttering it, one is, as it were, sending out the breath of the Holy Spirit to engage the four winds, pervading them and turning them to good.” – Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
CORPUS CHRISTI PROCESSION
Saint Mary Cathedral Saturday, June 2
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