Jesus Christ is real. And He gave us the Eucharist so that we could be with Him physically, because He knows we, as human beings, need to feel His presence. There is no better or real presence of Jesus Christ in our lives than receiving His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity at Mass. This week, we celebrate an entire Solemnity – the highest form of celebration in the Catholic faith – at Mass to give glory to God for this miracle of the real presence of Our Lord at every Mass. Read and learn about it, and the special celebration that you just might see walking down Main Street this weekend!
This Week’s Mass Warm-Up!
Catechesis At Home – Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) – Year A
Celebrating The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist
Feast of Corpus Christi – Celebrating the Real Presence
REFLECTION – Honoring and Revering the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ
This Sunday we celebrate the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Though we celebrate this miracle at every Mass, in every Adoration chapel, and every time we reverence the Tabernacle where the Eucharist is reposed, this feast is a special celebration of this amazing gift that God has given us. To make this feast a little more special in our worship of Christ in the Eucharist, parishes often hold a Benediction service and/or a procession around the parish with the Blessed Sacrament in a Monstrance.
In the Roman Catholic religion, Benediction is a rite with which many people are unfamiliar or have a misconception about. This week, since so many parishes will hold Benediction, we want to explain what it is and some of the particulars about it, so that you can celebrate it more fully and intentionally when you have the opportunity.
A benediction at its basic level is a blessing. The ceremony of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament is quite more complex and beautiful and includes a final blessing from which the ceremony receives its name.
Here is the definition/description from Fr. Hardon’s Catholic Dictionary:
BENEDICTION OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT. A Eucharistic devotion in the Catholic Church of the Latin Rite. In its traditional form, a priest, vested in surplice, stole, and cope, places on the altar or in the niche above it the consecrated Host in the ostensorium, or monstrance, and then incenses it. O Salutaris Hostia or similar hymn is usually sung at the beginning of exposition, followed by a period of meditation, praise, and adoration by priest and people. At the conclusion of the ceremony the Tantum Ergo hymn is chanted, with another incensation, and followed by blessing the people with the raised monstrance in the form of a cross. During the blessing the priest wears the humeral veil covering his hands. A small bell is rung during the blessing. The Divine Praises are then sung or recited by priest and people, and the Blessed Sacrament is reposed in the tabernacle. Benediction is commonly held on major feasts and Sundays, also during Lent, during a mission, or retreat or during forty hours’ devotions. Other days may be designated by individual bishops. Since the Second Vatican Council the Holy See has simplified the traditional ritual, allowing for a variety of options in the prayers, songs, and readings “to direct the attention of the faithful to the worship of Christ the Lord” (Eucharistiae Sacramentum, 1973, No. 95).
What are some of the special vessels and vestments used during Benediction to help us honor and revere the Real Presence?
Ostensorium and Monstrance are words that refer to the special vessel that holds the Blessed Sacrament for us to view and adore. It is typically made of precious metal (gold and silver) and made in a shape of a sunburst to signify that Christ is the Light of the World and all grace flows from Him. It also can resemble a crown reminding us that Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. The rays also draw our eyes in to the center where Jesus is.
Incense is the “smelly stuff” that we burn in a special vessel called a sensor or thurible. This has a place for a piece of charcoal to burn and the incense is placed on top of the burning charcoal and it slowly burns giving off a thick and perfumed smoke. As the thurible is swung the smoke rises symbolizing our prayers rising to God. Incense has been used in prayer from earliest times of worship and is described in the Old and New Testaments. (Exodus chapter 30 describes in detail the use of incense and in Luke 1 Zechariah is on duty to incense the altar when the angel appears to him to announce the birth of his son, John the Baptist.)
The vestments that the priest or deacon wears while honoring and revering the Real presence include:
Alb: the plain white gown worn under everything else, symbolizes the purity they received in their Baptism.
Stole: the symbol of their Holy Orders. Priests’ stoles go around their neck and hang down both sides of their front. Deacons’ stoles go over one shoulder across their body and connect at their opposite hip.
Cope: a long, floor length cape with a clasp to hold it in place. This is only worn for these solemn occasions and signifies the importance of the rite. It is never worn during Mass.
Humeral Veil: a wide stole that drapes over the shoulders of the minister when carrying the Monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament in it for Benediction or in Procession. It has pockets sewn into the inside so the minister’s hands are covered and do not touch the vessel holding the Lord as a sign of deep reverence.
The time spent in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament during Benediction can be as long or short as the minister chooses. The typical hour is based on the Scripture passage in which Jesus asks his closest Apostles on Holy Thursday night as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:40)
When celebrated after Mass as it is on the feast of Corpus Christi, many times it is only about 15 minutes or so, followed by a solemn procession.
DISCUSSION – What does “Real Presence” Mean?
There are about 1.2 billion people who identify as Catholics. Of those, between 300 million and 450 million attend Mass every week, depending on which survey you believe. And only about 25% of the people who attend Mass believe that the Eucharist is actually the Real Presence: The Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ.
That means that only 75 – 110 million people worldwide believe and understand that Jesus – God and Man who walked with the Apostles, died and resurrected two thousand years ago – is physically, truly present and in our midst when we are with the Eucharist, the Blessed Sacrament.
Discuss and share why you believe or do not believe. Is it just too hard to comprehend? Is it a mystery to amazing to have faith in? Is it easy to grasp because the Church has always taught it and the Bible backs it up?
This may be a discussion some may not want to have in terms of their own personal beliefs, at least right away. Consider, instead, asking, “What are some reasons people have for believing or not believing in the Real Presence?
ACTIVITY – Focus on the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist
If possible, attend or view online a Benediction this Sunday in celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi. Then, at some point this week, as a family go to an Adoration Chapel or a Church and spend some time in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. Even if He is in the Tabernacle and not exposed in a Monstrance, He is truly present: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Kneel down in His presence and simply adore Him because He is God.
Do not be afraid to take children – even very small children – to Adoration. You do not have to stay long. There is no set time-limit and there are no set prayers to pray when in private adoration. It is simply time to spend with God. If you have never taken your children to Adoration, go here for some tips. And here is a guide to Benediction with the hymns and the Divine Praises.
In the downloadable pdf of this page is a monstrance your child can color at home while in the Adoration Chapel.
DIG DEEPER – Other Celebrating The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist resources from Holy Owned and Operated:
Page: Faith Formation
TWMWU: Jesus Saves: The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Year B)
TWMWU: The Lord Feeds Us – Feast of Corpus Christi (Year C)
TWMWU: The Bread That Came Down From Heaven
TWMWU: One Body in Christ
Podcast: Eucharist – Episode 54
Podcast: Why Do Catholics Use Unleavened Bread? – Episode 59
Podcast: Why Do Catholics Believe in Transubstantiation? – Episode 65
Podcast: The Sacrament of The Eucharist- Episode 109
Podcast: All Saints Day – Episode 118
Extra: Lord’s Day Celebration
Do you believe in the RealPresence of Christ in the Eucharist?
by Beth & Kristofer Cowles
Other Help on HOO
We are called to be perfect, as we discussed last week.
So, what does being on the road to perfection look like?
If Jesus was “finished” and his ministry was “completed,” as it means when He said, “It is done,” by saying, “It is perfected” just before He died on the Cross, He must have walked a road to perfection.
And so must we.
In this episode we discuss that concept, in terms of what we are doing and how we respond to the call for our life.
It’s a simple concept, and a difficult task, but we have the example of Our Lord which, from the proper perspective, is not an impossible example to follow and exemplify.