Corpus Christi 19th June 2022

The news emanating from Russian-blitzed Ukraine, finds an echo chamber in the hollowness at the core of my being. I have to stop myself from checking every news bulletin for accounts of Ukrainian victories, an attempt to fill up the void and re-establish equilibrium. I experienced that same hollow feeling as an evacuee in Hurricane Katrina when I took shelter with strangers, as over 100 mph winds pummelled New Orleans, sending floodwater into homes and causing electrical blackouts.

   During one of the blackouts where I was sheltering in an old convent, I found myself inching, in the muggy dark, towards the chapel where Jesus: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, was residing in the tabernacle. I did what countless Catholics all over the world have done, when the pain of their inner hollowness becomes unbearable. I went to sit before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, to share my heartache with God’s Son who had suffered unimaginable pain on my behalf before he died. My mantra: “I say ‘Yes my Lord’, through all the good times, in all the bad times, I say ‘Yes.’’’ stilled my frightened thoughts. Time passed as I experienced being held by Jesus. Hollowness gave way to the fulness of peace and acceptance of God’s will.

Timothy Radcliffe, the former Master of the Dominican Order, advises that “each of us must find that hollow in one’s life, which is the space in which God is enthroned”(Why Go To Church, p.148). Sure enough, the hollowness is heightened in a time of crisis but it is there to be filled by God every day.

St. Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, tells us that Jesus, knowing that he was about to be betrayed, took bread, thanked God for it and breaking it said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of me.’ Taking the cup He said, ’This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.’ Paul added that every time we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim Jesus’ death.

Through the words of consecration said by the priest at Mass, Christ is truly present. We receive Him into our souls at Holy Communion. The hosts not consumed, are placed in the tabernacle, a secure, sacred place in which the Blessed Sacrament is stored, either for the sick who cannot participate in Mass or as a focus for those who visit in church.

The feast of Corpus Christi was proposed to Pope Urban IV by the great Dominican, St. Thomas Aquinas, in the thirteenth century. He wanted Pope Urban to create a feast focussed solely on the Holy Eucharist, emphasizing the joy of the Eucharist being the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. At the end of Mass on that Solemn Feast, which is usually on the Sunday after Trinity Sunday, there is often a procession of the Blessed Sacrament, generally displayed in a monstrance, through the streets of a town. People are joyful, young First Communicants dressed in white, scatter rose petals at the head of the procession. The priest holds the monstrance aloft and people bow in reverence.

On the Feast of Corpus Christi, I like to reflect how Jesus loved us so much that He instituted the Blessed Eucharist, not only to remember His death, but that we might receive Him in Holy Communion. It is said of St. Catherine that there was a direct relationship in her life between the Blessed Eucharist and her vital strength. Blessed Raymund of Capua, her biographer, writes, ‘Whenever she received Communion, a very torrent of grace and consolation flooded her soul.’

I believe that Jesus was aware that His presence in the Tabernacle would be a great consolation for generations to come. His gift of Himself made it possible for us to come to the chapel to spend time with Him, to be heldclose, especially when our hearts beat shallowly in that hollow place which only He can fill. I understand a little better now why St. Dominic liked to spend the night lying on the flagstones in front of the Blessed Sacrament and St. Martin de Porres hid away after Mass, in a tiny alcove behind the altar, from where he could see the tabernacle, but be hidden from view.

In St. John’s Gospel, 6:51, we read, ‘I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever and the bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world.” What consoling words. How blessed we are. On this Solemn Feast of Corpus Christi, let us rejoice and be glad, Alleluia!

Maeve Mc Mahon O.P.




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