Parish Magazine Article - June 2019
Corpus Christi - what does it mean?
I spent Easter Day in Rome this year, as part of my sabbatical/study leave– my first ever Holy Week away from ministry since ordination!I visited the Venerable English College, the Roman Catholic seminary in the heart of Rome, where I had been an Anglican student on placement for four months, 1981-2, prior to ordination.It was lovely to relive memories of that time, which was very important in my formation.If course, I can never resist an extract from my diary.It refers to a procession of the Blessed Sacrament taking place:
22 October 1981
The neighbouring church of San Lorenzo is having a ‘forty hours devotion’ of the Blessed Sacrament, so I go next door to look on.As the procession of the Sacrament is forming up, one of the servers turns to me and asks if I’m from the college.On replying ‘si’ he gets me to carry one of the 8 poles attached to the canopy over the Sacrament. Dressed in my jeans, the only religious garments provided are a pair of white nylon gloves, which I don.The procession sets off – alas my ‘other half’ on the canopy is an Italian man about four feet tall, so our end of the canopy bucks and stutters, rather like a pantomime horse.....
I mention this, as this month, of course, sees the great feast of Corpus Christi, on Thursday 20 June – always the Thursday after Trinity Sunday – so a moveable feast.It’s kept with great solemnity in Catholic countries, and the procession of the Sacrament is a great community event, with all involved, and the procession moving through the streets of towns and villages. In this country, our celebration of the feast is more muted but still important, and I do encourage us to remember and keep it.Why?Because I think that, sometimes, we take the Holy Communion for granted – even as routine.Corpus Christi encourages us to realise afresh the enormity of what we believe – that God himself comes down to us – that we can receive him into our very selves under the form of bread and wine and that this Real Presence gives us hope and strength for the pilgrim journey.What a wonderful gift we are offered each week in our churches – if we will but hold out our hands to receive that gift!
Why not join us at Hereford Cathedral, where we have a lovely celebration of the feast of Corpus Christi?It may not be quite as they do it in Rome but it always revives my faith and I hope it will yours too.
Here’s the note for your diary:
Thursday 20 June, 5.30pm.Choral Eucharist and Procession of the Sacrament, followed by wine and other refreshments in the Chapter House Garden.
You’ll find a warm welcome!There’s a special invitation to members of the Bishop’s Council to attend, prior to their evening meeting.
With my prayers and good wishes