Novena for the Festival of Corpus Christi
(To begin on Wednesday in Pentecost Week

O Amiable Jesus! who hast given us in the adorable Eucharist, so convincing a proof of thy infinite love, permit us to thank thee in the name of all thy creatures, for the blessings included in this one precious gift. We adore thee, O hidden Deity! and most ardently wish we could offer thee such love as would atone for our own offenses, and those committed by all mankind against this most amiable mystery. But, my God, if all creatures are so deeply indebted to thy mercy for this adorable sacrament, how much more sensibly should we feel our obligations, since by thy special predilection we have been chosen to assemble here under the same roof with thyself, to see thee daily offered on our altars, and to receive so frequently thy precious body and blood. Convinced by these thy tender mercies that our confidence in thy goodness cannot be too great, we come now to implore of thee, by that infinite love which induced thee to institute this adorable sacrament, and by all the graces which have ever flowed from this source of every blessing, to grant us the favor we ask in this Novena.

We firmly purpose to become from this moment the devoted adorers of this sacrament of love, and to take thy eucharistic life for the rule and model of ours. Give us grace to honour thy silence on our altar by the spirit of recollection and prayer; thy poverty, obedience, and adorable sanctity by detachment from all things, renunciation of self-will, and horror of sin. Above all, we beseech thee, O living Bread of eternal life! to remove all obstacles to our frequently and worthily receiving thee ; and to grant us so tender a devotion to this adorable mystery, that our hearts and thoughts may ever be turned to Thee present on our altars, and every action of our lives be directed to the perfect accomplishment of thy holy will. Amen.




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The Procession on the Feast of Corpus Christi


When the Blessed Sacrament is carried to one or more altars of repose, to testify publicly our faith in the presence of Our Lord in the Adorable Sacrament of the Altar.

The festival of Corpus Christi (the body of Christ) is on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday, consequently in the second week after Pentecost, because soon after the descent of the Holy Ghost the apostlea began to dispense holy communion to the faithful. This festival was instituted some six centuries ago. It was first celebrated in Belgium, by order of the Bishop of Liege, in consequence of a revelation made to a nun, Blessed Juliana (1250), and shortly after Pope Urban IV. decreed that it should be kept throughout the whole Church. In this procession the sacred Host is carried in a monstrance beneath a canopy, flowers are strewn on the way, and censers swung; the altars of repose are beautifully decorated with lights and flowers in honor of the Blessed Sacrament. In some places four altars are erected, and a pause is made at each, and one of the accounts of the institution of the Blessed Sacrament given by the four Evangelists is read. The four altars signify the four quarters of the world. After the reading of the Gospel, a prayer is added for protection against lightning and tempest, and for a good harvest. This solemn ceremony, which is generally terminated by the Te Deum in the church, cannot fail to impress every beholder. and lead the non-Catholic to inquire what it is towards which such profound reverence and veneration is displayed.



The Feast of Corpus Christ!

After the dogma of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit reminds us of the dogma of the Incarnation of our Lord, in celebrating with the Church the greatest of all sacraments, summing up the whole life of the Redeemer, giving infinite glory to God and applying the fruits of the Redemption at all times to ourselves (Collect).

It was on the cross that our Lord redeemed us and the Holy Eucharist, instituted on the night before our Lord's Passion, remains its memorial (Collect). The altar is the extension of Calvary", the Mass "shows the death of the Lord " (Epistle).

Jesus is there in the state of a victim, for the words of the double con- secration mean only that the bread is changed into the Body of Christ and the wine into His Blood. On account of this double action with different effects, which constitutes the sacrifice of the Mass, we are. entitled to speak of our Lord's Presence under the appearance of bread as that of the Body of Christ, although, since He can die no more, the whole Christ is there contained, similarly we may speak of the Presence under the appearance of wine as that of His Blood, although He is contained there whole and entire. Through His priests, our Lord Himself, the principal Priest of the Mass, offers in an unbloody manner His Body and Blood which were really separated on the Cross, but on the altar only in a representative or sacramental sense, the matter and words used and the effect produced being different in the two consecrations. Besides, the Eucharist was instituted under the form of food (Alleluia), that we may be united with the Victim of Calvary, so that the Sacred Host becomes the "wheat" which feeds our souls (Introit).

Moreover, Christ, as the Son of God, receives the eternal life of the Father, in the same way Christians share in that eternal life by uniting themselves to Christ through the Sacrament which is the symbol of unity (Secret), and this possession of the divine life, already realized on earth through the Eucharist, is the pledge and the beginning of that in which we shall fully rejoice in heaven (Postcommunion). As the Council of Trent puts it: "That same Heavenly Bread that we eat now under the sacred veils, we shall feed upon in heaven without veil." We should regard the Mass as the centre of all Eucharistic worship, seeing in Holy Communion the means instituted by our Lord to enable us to share more fully in this divine Sacrifice. In this way our devotion to our Lord's Body and Blood will effectively obtain for us the fruits of His Redemption (Collect).

Concerning the procession which regularly should follow the Mass, we remember how the Israelites revered the Ark of the Covenant which was the Presence of God among them. When they carried on their victorious marches, the Ark went before, born by the Levites in the midst of a cloud of incense, accompanied by the sound of musical instruments and of the songs and shouts of the multitude

We Christians have a treasure far more precious, for in the Eucharist we possess God Himself. Let us feel a holy pride in forming His escort and extolling His triumphs, while He is in our midst.






Corpus Christi
by Father Prosper Gueranger, 1870


The grand Feast has, at length, dawned upon us; and everything is speaking of the triumph of faith and love. During the feast of the Ascension, when commenting those words of our Lord: It is expedient to you that I go (St. John, xvi. 7), we were saying, that the withdrawal of the visible presence of the Man-God from the eyes of men on earth, would bring among them, by the vivid operation of the Holy Ghost, a plenitude of light and a warmth of love which they had not had for their Jesus, during His mortal career among them; the only creature, that had rendered to Him, in her single self, the whole of those duties which the Church afterwards paid him, was Mary, who was all illumined with faith.

In his exquisite hymn, Adoro te devote, St. Thomas of Aquin says: On the Cross it was the Divinity alone that was hid; but here the Humanity, too, is hid; and yet, on no day of the Year is the Church more triumphant, or more demonstrative, than she is upon this Feast. Heaven is all radiant; our earth has clad herself with her best, that she may do homage to Him, who has said: I am the Flower of the fields, and the Lily of the valleys (Cant. ii. 1). Holy Church is not satisfied with having prepared a throne whereon, during the whole of this Octave, the sacred Host is to receive the adorations of the faithful; she has decreed, that these days of solemn and loving exposition be preceded by the pageant of a triumph. Not satisfied, today, with elevating the Bread of Life, immediately after the words of Consecration: she will carry It beyond the precincts of her churches, amidst clouds of incense, and on paths strewed with flowers; and her children, on bended knee, will adore, under heaven's vaulted canopy, Him Who is their King and their God.

Those joys, which each separate solemnity of the Year brought us, seem to come back upon us, all of them at once, today. The Royal Prophet had foretold this, when he said: He (the Lord) hath made a remembrance (a Memorial) of His wonderful works: He hath given Food to them that fear Him (Ps. cs. 4, 5). Holy Church is filled with enthusiasm, holding in her arms that divine Spouse, who said: Lo! I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world (St. Matth. xxviii. 20). Nothing could be more formal; and the promise has been faithfully kept. It is true, we beheld Him ascending from Mount Olivet; He went up into heaven, and there He sitteth at His Father's right hand: but, ever since the memorable day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit took possession of the Church, the sacred mystery of the Supper has been celebrated, in virtue of those words spoken by Jesus: Do this in remembrance of me; and from that day forward, the human race has never been deprived of the presence of its Head and its Redeemer.




Sermon of St. Thomas Aquinas

The immense blessings bestowed by the divine mercy upon the Christian people give it an inestimable dignity. There is not, nor ever was, a nation so great that has gods so nigh as our God is present to us. And this body that he took from us he gave wholly for our salvation. For he offered his own body to God the Father upon the altar of the cross as a victim for our reconciliation, and he shed his own blood both to redeem and cleanse us, that we, being bought back from a wretched slavery, might be washed from all our sins. And then, that the memory of such a great benefit might abide in us, he left his body to be our food and his blood to be our drink, that the faithful might receive them under the species of bread and wine.

O precious and wonderful banquet, health-giving and full of all sweetness! What could be more precious than this banquet, in which no longer as under the law the flesh of calves and goats is eaten, but Christ the true God is set before us that we may receive Him? What could be more wonderful than this sacrament, in which bread and wine are substantially changed into the body and blood of Christ? And therefore Christ, perfect God and man is contained under the appearance of a little bread and wine. He is eaten by the faithful but not torn asunder; indeed when the Sacrament is divided he remains entire in each particle. The accidents subsist without a subject, that there may be room for faith, when we receive visibly that which is invisible and hidden under an appearance not its own. Thus the senses are kept free from deception, for they judge of accidents known to them.

Of all the sacraments none is more health-giving, for by it sins are washed away, virtues are increased, and the soul is fed with an abundance of all spiritual gifts. It is offered in the Church for the living and the dead, that all may profit by that which was instituted for the salvation of all. Finally, no words suffice to describe the sweetness of this sacrament, in which spiritual delights are tasted at their very source and the exceeding charity of Christ in his passion is called to mind. It was in order to impress more deeply upon the minds of the faithful the boundless extent of his charity that, when he had kept the Pasch with his disciples and was about to depart out of this world to his Father, Christ instituted this sacrament as a perpetual memorial of his passion, the fulfillment of the ancient figures, the greatest of all his miracles. To those who grieved at his absence it was to be a special consolation.



Sermon of St. Augustine

For while by food and drink men seek to attain to this end that they shall neither hunger nor thirst; there is nothing that truly does this, except that food and drink, which makes those who partake of it immortal and incorruptible; namely, the very fellowship of the Saints, where there will be peace, and full and perfect unity. And so, just as men of God understood this before us, our Lord Jesus Christ has commended to us his body and blood in those things, which from being many are reduced to some one thing. For a unity (bread) is formed out of many grains; and another unity (wine) is made by the juice of many berries flowing together. At length, he now explains how that of which he speaks comes to pass; and what it is to eat his body and to drink his blood.

He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, abides in me, and I in him. And so it is apparent that one eats that food and drinks that drink, if he abides in Christ, and Christ in him. Consequently, he who does not abide in Christ, and in whom Christ does not abide, without doubt does not spiritually eat his flesh, nor drink his blood, though he may, in the flesh and visibly, press with his teeth the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ; but rather does he eat and drink the sacrament of so great a thing to his own judgment, because he, being unclean, has presumed to draw near to Christ's sacraments, which no man takes worthily, except he who is clean: of whom it is said: Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.

And says He, the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father: so he who eats me, the same also shall live by me. As though he should say: That I live by the Father; that is, that I ascribe my life to Him as to one greater than I, is brought about by that emptying of myself in which he sent me; but, that one lives by me is effected by that participation in which he eats me. And so I, being brought low, live by the Father; while that man, being raised up, lives by me. But if it is said: I live by the Father; so as to mean that he is of the Father, not the Father of him, it is said without disparagement to the equality between them. But on the other hand, by saying: He who eats me the same also shall live by me; he did not signify equality between him and ourselves, but He thereby showed the grace of the mediator.




Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians, I. Ch. XI.
by Father Prosper Gueranger


"Brethren, for I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread, and giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye and eat: this is My body which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of Me. In like manner, also, the chalice, after He had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in My blood: this do ye, as often as ye shall drink, for the commemoration of me. For as often as ye shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, ye shall show the death of the Lord, until He come. Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But, let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment unto himself, not discerning the body of the Lord."

The holy Eucharist, both as Sacrifice and Sacrament, is the very centre of the Christian religion; and, therefore, our Lord would have a fourfold testimony to be given, in the inspired writings, to its Institution. Besides the account given by Saints Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we have also that of St. Paul, which has just been read to us, and which he received from the lips of Jesus Himself, Who vouchsafed to appear to him, after his Conversion, and instruct him.

St. Paul lays particular stress on the power given by our Lord to his disciples, of renewing the act which He himself had just been doing. He tells us, what the Evangelists had not explicitly mentioned, that as often as a Priest consecrates the Body and Blood of Christ, he shows (he announces,) the Death of the Lord: and, by that expression, tells us, that the Sacrifice of the Cross, and that of our Altars, is one and the same. It is, likewise, by the immolation of our Redeemer on the Cross, that the Flesh of this Lamb of God is truly meat, and His Blood truly drink, as we shall be told, in a few moments, by the Gospel. Let not the Christian, therefore, forget it, not even on this day of festive triumph. The Church insists on the same truth in her Collect of this Feast: it is the teaching which she keeps repeating, through this formula, throughout the entire Octave: and her object in this is to impress vividly, on the minds of her children, this, the last and earnest injunction of our Jesus: As often as ye shall drink of this cup of the new Testament, do it for the commemoration of me! The selection she makes of this passage of St. Paul for the Epistle, should impress the Christian with this truth, that the divine Flesh which feeds his soul, was prepared on Calvary; and that, although the Lamb of God is now living and impassible, He became our food, our nourishment, by the cruel death which He endured. The sinner, who has made his peace with God, will partake of this sacred Body with deep compunction, reproaching himself for having shed its Blood by his sins: the just man will approach the holy Table with humility, remembering how he, also, has had but too great a share in causing the innocent Lamb to suffer; and, that if he be at present in the state of grace, he owes it to the Blood of the Victim, Whose Flesh is about to be given to him for his nourishment.

But let us dread, and dread above all things, the sacrilegious daring, spoken against, in such strong language, by our Apostle, and which, by a monstrous contradiction, would attempt to put again to death Him Who is the Author of Life; and this attempt to be made in the very banquet, which was procured for us men by the precious Blood of this Saviour! Let a man prove himself, says the Apostle; and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. This proving one's self is sacramental confession, which must be made by him who feels himself guilty of a grievous sin, which has never before been confessed. How sorry soever he may be for it, were he even reconciled to God by an act of perfect contrition, the injunction of the Apostle, interpreted by the custom of the Church and the decisions of her Councils (Conc. Trid. Sess. xiv. cap. iv), forbids his approaching the holy Table, until he has submitted his sin to the power of the Keys.





Sequence

Praise thy Saviour, O Sion! praise thy guide and shepherd, in hymns and canticles.

As much as thou hast power, so also dare; for He is above all praise, nor canst thou praise Him enough.

This day, there is given to us a special theme of praise, the living and life-giving Bread,

Which, as our faith assures us, was given to the Twelve brethren, as they sat at the Table of the holy Supper.

Let our praise be full, let it be sweet; let our soul's jubilee be joyous, let it be beautiful;

For we are celebrating that great day, whereon is commemorated the first institution of this Table.

In this Table of the new King, the new Pasch of the new Law puts an end to the old Passover.

Newness puts the old to flight, and so does truth the shadow; the light drives night away.

What Christ did at that Supper, that He said was to be done in remembrance of Him.

Taught by His sacred institutions, we consecrate the Bread and Wine into the victim of salvation.

This is the dogma given to Christians, that bread passes into flesh, and wine into blood.

What thou understandest not, what thou seest not, that let a generous faith confirm thee in, beyond nature's course.

Under the different species, which are signs not things, there hidden lie things of infinite worth.

The Flesh is food, the Blood is drink; yet Christ is whole, under each species.

He is not cut by the receiver, nor broken, nor divided: He is taken whole.

He is received by one, He is received by a thousand; the one receives as much as all; nor is He consumed, Who is received.

The good receive, the bad receive, but with the difference of life or death.

'Tis death to the bad, 'tis life to the good: lo! how unlike is the effect of the one like receiving.

And when the Sacrament is broken, waver not! but remember, that there is as much under each fragment, as is hid under the whole.

Of the substance that is there, there is no division; it is but the sign that is broken; and He Who is the Signified, is not thereby diminished, either as to state or stature.

Lo! the Bread of Angels is made the food of pilgrims; verily, it is the Bread of the children, not to be cast to dogs.

It is foreshown in figures, when Isaac is slain, when the Paschal Lamb is prescribed, when Manna is given to our fathers.

O good Shepherd! true Bread! Jesus! have mercy upon us: feed us, defend us: give us to see good things in the land of the living.

O Thou, Who knowest and canst do all things, Who feedest us mortals here below, make us to be Thy companions in the banquet yonder above, and thy joint-heirs, and fellow-citizens with the Saints! Amen. Alleluia.





The Divine Praises


Blessed be God.
Blessed be His Holy Name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man.
Blessed be the name of Jesus.
Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the paraclete.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy.
Blessed be her holy and Immaculate Conception.
Blessed be her glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.
Blessed be Saint Joseph, her most chaste spouse.
Blessed be God in His angels and in His Saints.

May the heart of Jesus, in the Most Blessed Sacrament, be praised, adored, and loved with grateful affection, at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world, even to the end of time. Amen.







Ejaculations in Honor of the Blessed Sacrament


Blessed and praised every moment be the most holy and divine Sacrament.

(Indulgence 100 days)



I adore Thee at every moment, O living bread of heaven, great Sacrament!
Jesus, heart of Mary, I pray you, bless my soul.
Holiest Jesus, my Savior, I give Thee my heart.

(Indulgence of Two Hundred Days; Pius VII, 1915)





Prayer to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament


O My Lord and King, hidden in this Sacrament! Since Thou dost invite me to converse with Thee, I will open my heart with confidence, and speak. O my Jesus, ardent lover of souls-! I know too well the injustice and ingratitude of men towards Thee: Thou lovest them, and they do not love Thee: Thou dost confer benefits on them, and they return Thee insults: Thou wouldst have them hear Thy voice, and they will not listen: Thou dost offer them graces, and they refuse them. Ah, my Jesus, I too have been once among the number of these ungrateful souls. O my God, it is only too true. But I desire to amend, and I wish to compensate for the insults I have done Thee, by doing all I can to please Thee for the remainder of my life. Tell me, O Lord, what Thou dost require of me. I will do it without the least reserve. Make known to me Thy will by the way of holy obedience, and I hope to accomplish it.

My God, I firmly promise never to leave undone any act which I know to be agreeable to Thee, although the performance of it should cost me the loss of all things, of relations, friends, character, health, and even life itself. Let me lose all, if only I may do Thy will. Happy loss, when all is sacrificed to content Thy Heart, O God of my soul! I love Thee, O sovereign Good, above all goods worthy of my love, and in loving Thee I unite my feeble heart with the hearts of all the Seraphim. I unite it with the heart of Mary, and with the Heart of Jesus. I love Thee with my whole soul; I wish to love Thee alone, now and for ever. Amen






Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas

Almighty and eternal God, I approach to the sacrament of Thy only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. As a sick man I approach the physician of life; as a man unclean, I come to the fountain of mercy; blind, to the light of eternal brightness; poor and needy , to the Lord of heaven and earth. I beseech Thee, therefore, in Thy boundless mercy, that Thou wouldst deign to heal my sickness, to wash away my defilements, to enlighten my blindness, to enrich my poverty, and to clothe my nakedness; that I may receive the Bread of angels, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, with such reverence and humility, such contrition and faith, such purpose and intention, as may help the salvation of my soul.

Grant, I beseech Thee, that I may receive not only the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of our Lord, but also the whole grace and virtue of the Sacrament. O most indulgent God, grant me so to receive the Body of Thy only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, which He took of the Virgin Mary, that I may be found worthy to be incorporated with His Mystical Body and numbered among His members. O most loving Father, grant that I may one day forever contemplate Him unveiled and face to face, Whom, on my pilgrimage, I receive under a veil, Thy beloved Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen





Pange Lingua Gloriosi

The Pange Lingua is pre-eminently the hymn of the Most Blessed Sacrament. It is the most beautiful of the great Eucharistic hymns of St. Thomas and is one of the finest of medieval Latin hymns; a wonderful union of sweetness of melody with clear-cut dogmatic teaching.

Pange lingua gloriosi Corporis mysterium, Sanguinisque pretiosi, Quem in mundi pretium Fructus ventris generosi, Rex effudit gentium. Sing, my tongue, the Savior's glory, Of His flesh the mystery sing; Of His Blood, all price exceeding, Shed by our immortal King, Destined, for the world's redemption, From a noble womb to spring.
Nobis datus, nobis natus Ex intacta Virgine Et in mundo conversatus, Sparso verbi semine, Sui moras incolatus Miro clausit ordine. Of a pure and spotless Virgin Born for us on earth below, He, as Man, with man conversing, Stayed, the seeds of truth to sow; Then He closed in solemn order, Wondrously His life of woe.
In supremae nocte cenae Recum bens cum fratribus, Observata lege plene Cibis in legalibus, Cibum turbae duodenae Se dat suis manibus On the night of that Last Supper, Seated with His chosen band, He the Pascal victim eating, First fulfills the Law's command; Then as Food to all His brethren, Gives Himself with His own hand.
Verbum caro, panem verum Verbo carnem efficit: Fitque sanguis Christi merum, Et si sensus deficit, Ad firmandum cor sincerum Sola fides sufficit. Word-made-Flesh, the bread of nature, By His word to Flesh He turns; Wine into His Blood He changes; What though sense no change discerns, Only be the heart in earnest, Faith her lesson quickly learns.
Tantum ergo Sacramentum Veneremur cernui: Et antiquum documentum Novo cedat ritui: Praestet fides supplementum Sensuum defectui. Down in adoration falling, Lo! the sacred Host we hail; Lo! o'er ancient forms departing, Newer rites of grace prevail; Faith for all defects supplying, Where the feeble senses fail.
Genitori, Genitoque Laus et jubilatio, Salus, honor, virtus quoque Sit et benedictio: Procedenti ab utroque Compar sit laudatio. Amen To the everlasting Father, And the Son who reigns on high, With the Holy Ghost proceeding Forth from Each eternally, Be salvation, honor, blessing, Might and endless majesty. Amen.







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