This weekend we celebrate the feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus, also known as Corpus Christi. This feast traditionally occurs 60 days after Easter, though in this country, we celebrate it on the Sunday following Trinity Sunday. The feast was established in 1264, by Pope Urban IV. In many parishes, one of the liturgies this weekend will conclude with a Corpus Christi procession. At Most Blessed Sacrament, Oshkosh, we are having the Blessed Sacrament accompanied by our assembly, torch bearers, our recent first communicants and the Knights of Columbus. We will use our 100 year-old antique Corpus Christi canopy under which the Blessed Sacrament will be carried.
As a child I loved this procession, especially the year I got to wear my first Communion clothes (again) and carry fresh flowers. In my childhood innocence I also remember feeling extra happy that Jesus was getting to go outside for a walk.
As Catholics, it is a treasure of our faith to behold the real presence of Jesus in adoration. It has long been a part of our tradition to celebrate 40 hours devotion, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and eucharistic processions. Presently in our diocese, 24-hour adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is taking place 365 days of the year.
Eucharistic adoration as we know it today began in the 13th century when participation by the laity at liturgy was primarily “visual,” and seeing the elevated host was the high point of the Mass. Today, our Holy Father encourages the use of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as a way to draw ourselves deeper into the Paschal Mystery and foster within us the right disposition to celebrate the Mass and receive frequently the bread given to us by the Father.
The next time you see the Blessed Sacrament exposed in a monstrance, pay attention. The word monstrance comes from the Latin word monstrare, meaning “to show.” The monstrance can be a simple or extremely elaborate vessel into which the Blessed Sacrament is placed. You may have heard stories of how the early faithful donated diamonds and other jewels from their own jewelry to adorn the monstrance. The monstrance is always of precious metal, often gold plated. In the center of the monstrance is a hollow core. Into this core is placed the luna, a round container of glass containing the Blessed Sacrament, which fits securely. In some instances the presider will wear a cope, but always a humeral veil will be used. The humeral veil is an ornate fabric wrap-around stole that has inner pockets, which allow the presider to wrap the humeral veil around the base of the monstrance during the elevation. Note that four to six candles will be lit and incense will be used.
Perpetual adoration chapels in our diocese are located in Appleton, Chilton, Green Bay, Marinette, Neenah and Oshkosh. More information is available on the diocesan Web site.
Zahorik is director of worship at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish in Oshkosh.