FEAST OF CORPUS CHRISTI (BODY OF CHRIST)
Pope Clement V at the General Council of Vienna in the year l3ll declared the Feast of Corpus Christ as an official one of the Catholic Church.
It is my personal conviction that the greatest trouble in our Church today is a sagging faith in this doctrine. How could any priest, religious or lay person ever leave the Church if they really believed that Our Lord is truly present in this Sacrament?
"Take ye and eat: This is my Body." (Matthew 26:26). Weigh carefully the force of those words. Surely laws and decrees ought to be promulgated in clear, precise and simple language, and not obscurely or ambiguously. Otherwise, any person might plead ignorance and say: "Let the legislator speak plainly if he wishes his law to be obeyed".
Now what Christian ever doubted that Our Lord in instituting this Sacrament gave orders and framed a law that was to be renewed perpetually in His Church? "Take and eat," Our Lord said, "THIS IS MY BODY". Since these words of Christ are the expression of a law or command, to read figures of speech or metaphors into them is to make Almighty God a most imprudent and incompetent of law-givers.
You will agree with me, I am sure, that what Our Lord said at the first Mass was really His Last Will and Testament. It was an oral will - not written - but there is a place in civil law for an oral will. And in this case there were twelve witnesses. Now a man's Last Will and Testament should surely be drawn up in the straightforward speech of everyday life. No one but a madman, or one who desired to make trouble or mischief after his death would employ a figure of speech in such a document. When a testator says in his will: "I leave my house to my son, John", does anybody ever understand his words to have meant, "I leave my son, John, not my house itself standing four-square, but a nice, painted picture of it"?
Now, Our Lord promised to give us His Flesh for our food. He said, "The bread that I give you is my flesh for the life of the world." If you argue that the bread may be looked upon as a figure or symbol of His Flesh, you are arguing that Our Lord didn't really mean what He said. You would be making a mockery of God's promises. A wonderful gift that would have been if Eternal Wisdom, Truth, Justice and Goodness had deceived us and shattered our dearest hopes.
If you ask the question: "How can the Lord give us His Flesh to eat and His Blood to drink"? The answer is that only He knows.
He told us simply in His Last Will and Testament: "Take and eat, this is My Body, take and drink this is My Blood." God has said it; I believe it; that settles it.
It may help to point out that our human bodies, which are gifts of God, every day of our lives turn food and drink into our own flesh and blood, and we think nothing of it. Surely God can show us His infinite love for us by giving Himself for our spiritual comfort.
If you are ever tempted to doubt the Catholic believe in the Real Presence, say with the doubting Thomas: "My Lord and my God." And the Lord said to Thomas: "Because you have seen me, Thomas, you believe. Blessed are those who have not seen yet have believed".
Let us say with the "believing Thomas, St. Thomas Aquinas," the Prince of the Blessed Sacrament, who, when receiving Holy Communion for the last time before his death, made the following profession of faith: "If in this world there be any knowledge of this Sacrament stronger than Faith, I wish now to use it in affirming that I unequivocally believe and know as certain that Jesus Christ, True God and true man, Son of God and Son of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is in this Sacrament".