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Official Website of the
Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: June 7, 2023
"Could not Christ's word, which can make from nothing what did not exist, change existing things into what they were not before? It is no less a feat to give things their original nature than to change their nature." — St. Ambrose
Last year on the feast of Corpus Christi, we began the Diocese of Little Rock's observance of the National Eucharistic Revival. This year, we begin the Year of Parish Revival on the feast day, June 11. The parish year is the second phase of the three-year movement to revive belief in and grow relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist.
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor will open the diocesan Divine Mercy Shrine on June 11 as well. He will begin the celebration with a bilingual Mass at 12:30 p.m. at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock. Participants will then process one mile to St. Edward Church where he will bless the new image of the Divine Mercy and lead the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. All are invited. Once open, the shrine will offer hours throughout the week dedicated to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, traditionally referred to by its Latin name, Corpus Christi, is the feast day that highlights the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, — Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. | Eucharist Resources
The word "Eucharist" means "thanksgiving." It comes from the Greek "eucharistein" and "eulogein," which "recalls the Jewish blessings that proclaim — especially during a meal — God's works: creation, redemption and sanctification." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1328)
On the night before he died, Jesus shared one last meal with his Apostles. During this Last Supper, "he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.' And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.'" (Luke 22:19-20)
Through the Apostles' successors, the Catholic Church has been following Jesus' command to "do this in memory of me" for more than 2,000 years. "In order to leave them a pledge of (his) love, in order never to depart from his own and to make them sharers in his Passover, (Jesus) instituted the Eucharist as the memorial of his death and resurrection, and commanded his Apostles to celebrate it until his return; 'thereby he constituted them priests of the New Testament.'" (catechism, no. 1337)
Taking him at his word when he said, "This is my body," and "This is my blood," the Church teaches that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus at every Mass. Though Christ is present in many ways in his Church, his presence in the Eucharist is unique. He "makes himself wholly and entirely present" in the bread and wine. Therefore, the Eucharist is the "source and summit of the Christian life." (no. 1324)
"The Church and the world have a great need for eucharistic worship. Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go to meet him in adoration, in contemplation full of faith, and open to making amends for the serious offenses and crimes of the world. Let our adoration never cease." — St. John Paul II, "Dominicae Cenae," no. 3
Because of its importance, the Church has this special feast day to recognize the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. "Corpus Christi," which is Latin for "Body of Christ," traces its origins back to Pope Urban IV who declared the universal celebration of this feast in 1264.
He asked papal theologian St. Thomas Aquinas to compose new liturgical texts for the feast. His "'Adoro te Devote,' remains an essential part of the Church’s sacred hymnography. The 'Pange Lingua,' for example, is often sung during the eucharistic procession after the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, to which the last two stanzas are referred separately as 'Tantum Ergo' and sung at benediction of the Blessed Sacrament." To learn more, read Simply Catholic.
Traditionally, Catholics celebrate this great feast with a eucharistic procession, holy hour, eucharistic adoration with benediction of the Blessed Sacrament or a Litany of the Most Precious Blood. If unable to come to the Divine Mercy Shrine opening, contact a parish near you to find out if a Corpus Christi procession and/or holy hour will be held in your area. To learn more about the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith, read the new special section from Arkansas Catholic, or follow the National Eucharistic Revival blog.