Leigh Hatts  

Corpus Christi 2020

St Juliana poster 1946

Corpus Christi meaning Body of Christ is a feast of celebration and thanksgiving for the institution of the Holy Communion.

It is kept today 11 June, a Thursday, to recall Maundy Thursday and we celebrate again because normally we can be more joyful now than in Holy Week.

The Mass has been hard to find recently so maybe it’s the moment to read again the reflection by Patrick O’Donovan in 1967 when attempting to explain the significance of the Eucharist:

They do it in colossal cathedrals, on kitchen tables, in chapels built on the cheap, at Baroque altars in which an instant of religious drama has been frozen in stone and contrived light, in rooms over public houses that still smell of beer and occasionally, still, in upper rooms with the doors guarded.

A man bends over a piece of unleavened bread and over a silver gilt cup with a little wine and water in it and he pronounces a formula more terrible than the sound of guns … And the majority of Christians believe that God himself is immediate and present, not in the way that he is everywhere anyway, but in the way that a man is there in the same room.

This celebration day with its processions was introduced by brave and feisty St Juliana of Liege, supported by her friend Blessed Eve, in the face of huge opposition by the male hierarchy.

Juliana said that she was passing on the wish of God for this feast day which we keep now in our hearts and hope to keep with traditional custom next year.

**Whilst Corpus Christi is observed on the traditional Thursday by the Church of England it is being transferred by the Roman Catholic Church in England & Wales to next Sunday. An exception is Arundel Cathedral, famous for its Corpus Christi Thursday carpet of flowers in past years, where there will be a live stream online Corpus Christi Mass tonight Thursday at 6.55pm.

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