Each year, stretching back to the Middle Ages, on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday we joyfully honour the Eucharistic Lord with Masses, hymns and lavish processions through the streets and byways. This is the tradition of the feast of Corpus Christi, often transferred now to the following Sunday. The practice of processions with the Blessed Sacrament is reviving, especially as younger priests and lay people rediscover the Catholic patrimony of their forebears with gratitude and wonder.
Speaking of wonder, here is a too brief taste of the praise of the feast of Corpus Christi by Fr Frederick William Faber, founder of the London Oratory, in his Blessed Sacrament; or The Works And Ways Of God (1855). Would that we could recover this fervour and delight:
Oh, the joy of the immense glory the Church is sending up to God this hour! Verily as if the world was all unfallen still. We think, and, as we think, the thoughts are like so many successive tidal waves filling our whole souls with the fullness of delight, of all the thousands of Masses which are being said or sung the whole world over, and all rising with one note of blissful acclamation, from grateful creatures, to the majesty of our merciful Creator. How many glorious processions, with the sun upon their banners, are now wending their way round the squares of mighty cities, through the flower-strewn streets of Christian villages, through the antique cloisters of the glorious cathedral, or though the grounds of the devout seminary, where the various colours of the faces, and the different languages of the people are only so many fresh tokens of the unity of that Faith, which they are all exultingly professing in the single voice of the magnificent ritual of Rome! Upon how many altars of various architecture, amid sweet flowers and starry lights, amid clouds of humble incense, and the tumult of thrilling song, before thousands of prostrate worshippers, is the Blessed Sacrament raised for exposition, or taken down for Benediction! And how many blessed acts of faith and love, of triumph and reparation, do not each of these things surely represent! … Sin seems forgotten; tears even are of rapture rather than of penance. It is like the soul’s first day in Heaven; or as if earth itself were passing into Heaven, as it well might do, for sheer joy of the Blessed Sacrament.
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