Corpus Christi — Musings on the Holy Eucharist

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is also known as ‘Corpus Christi’. It is a day to remember the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, the source and summit of the Catholic faith.

Jun 09, 2023

(Unsplash/Thays Orrico

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is also known as ‘Corpus Christi’. It is a day to remember the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, the source and summit of the Catholic faith.

Here are some musings on Corpus Christi and the Holy Eucharist.

Eucharistic Procession
Every year during Corpus Christi, I look forward to the Eucharistic procession where the Blessed Sacrament is carried in procession either within the church compound or on the streets for worshippers to adore.

Certain districts organise their Eucharistic procession by selecting a particular parish in the district to host the celebration. All parishes in the district then work together for the liturgy, procession, logistics, refreshments, etc. It is a positive way to build communion and encourage participation between parishes. The celebration also brings the district together in the spirit of being one in the Body and Blood of Christ.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist in Kuala Lumpur used to organise a five-kilometre-long procession through the financial district of Kuala Lumpur. The roads where the procession passed — Jalan Raja Chulan, Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Ampang are tourist belts with many curious on-lookers, some of whom also joined in the procession without knowing its meaning.

There was one year when a couple from Syria who joined the procession asked me what was going on. It was difficult for me to explain because their command of the English language was not strong and my command of Arabic was nil. But thanks to Google Translate in my mobile phone, I managed to translate the word, ‘Eucharist’ into Arabic. I also told the couple to look for information about Corpus Christi.

If there is another Eucharistic procession again through the streets of Kuala Lumpur, I may list down related words and translate them into different languages as preparation because Eucharistic processions are a great way to share the faith and to evangelise.

Treating the Eucharist
Many of us assume that all Catholics know about the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. However, there are Catholics who may not believe it. This lack of understanding is the reason we hear of cases where the Eucharist was treated in a disrespectful manner.

One of the most shocking incidents I have heard was when a mother carrying a toddler went up to receive Holy Communion. Instead of consuming the Eucharist, she proceeded to let the toddler play with the precious Body of Christ. I suppose she must have received a harsh reprimand for doing so.

Whenever we attend Mass, we may have seen the Eucharist accidentally dropping on the floor. I am not sure what is the correct procedure to pick up a host that has fallen on the floor, but the Eucharist must be handled in the most precious way because it is the real presence of Jesus Christ. This is why we consume the Eucharist — so that Christ becomes part of our body, and we become part of Him.

Catholics and the Eucharist
When my aunt passed away in August 2021 due to cardiac arrest caused by COVID-19, I attended an online memorial service organised by her cell group from Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB).

At the beginning of the service, each SIB member had a small glass of liquid and a piece of food that looked like a wafer. The person leading the service then invited everyone to consume the liquid and wafer. There was no prayer or ceremony to bless the items. I was disappointed that they didn’t inform the non-SIB members beforehand or else I would have prepared Malbec and Haw flakes.

That was my first time attending a service conducted by another Christian denomination, and that experience opened my eyes (once again) that the Holy Eucharist is one of the main elements that differentiate Catholics from other Christian denominations. For Roman Catholics, the Holy Eucharist is simply the source and summit of our Catholic faith.

Deprived of the Eucharist
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Masses were suspended throughout the various dioceses in Malaysia and in many other dioceses globally. During this time, the people were told to receive spiritual communion by following online Masses on YouTube. To me, this was an interim solution because Catholics need to receive Holy Eucharist in its physical form.

As Masses continued to be suspended, the longing to receive Holy Eucharist in its physical form became so strong that many Catholics cried tears of joy after physical Masses resumed and they could receive the Eucharist again.

Certain Catholics who were angry with the Church for the prolonged Mass suspension wanted to join other Christian churches but decided not to. When I asked what stopped them from doing so, they said it was because of the Holy Eucharist, and no other reason. These enriching conversations reminded me of a quote from Catholic Link: “Once you understand the Eucharist, you can never leave the Church. Not because the Church won’t let you, but because your heart won’t let you.”

On this Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, I hope that all Catholics will reinforce their believe in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. And that we need to receive the Eucharist as often as possible in order to become one with Him.

(Julie Lim Seet Yin believes that a satisfied life measured by one’s heart, mind and soul is better than a successful life measured by worldly yardsticks. She can be reached at: [email protected])

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