Reflection 23rd June 2019

A Reflection for the Feast of Corpus Christi

Lk: 9: 11B-17 (

At early Mass on the Feast of Corpus Christi, our parish priest preached to his congregation in St. Mary’s Church about the actual presence of the Body and Blood of Christ. We were a devout, if innocent, community of believers but by the end of the homily, which was delivered from the raised pulpit, we had an understanding that, as a faith community, we were part of the sacred Body of Christ. If I struggled with that particular concept as a child, there was no such uncertainty when we were reminded that “the procession” would take place at 1p.m. and that everyone was to gather half-an-hour beforehand in preparation for the community celebration.

At the appointed time, the men’s sodality, the women’s sodality, the confraternity band, the church choir, the recent first Holy Communicants and the white-gloved guardians of the Monstrance, who transported a portable canopy, all assembled in the church-yard and waited for the priests and altar boys (no altar girls!) to arrive. The coloured and bejewelled vestments were dazzling, while (pre-Vatican II) the Sisters, their heads covered with mantillas, and accompanied by their students, were a rare and slightly exotic sight outside the convent walls.

As the procession set out on its traditional route, the girls in their sparkling communion dresses spread flower-petals along the way, creating a colourful and scented route for participants. The younger children, not yet allowed to take part, gazed in awe at the passing procession, admiring the banners and, without understanding, enjoying the strains of “Tantum Ergo, Sacramentum”.

The procession ended with Benediction and the Recitation of the Litany. This was followed by the confraternity band which accompanied the massed choirs of both men’s and women’s sodalities, supported by the onlookers in a thrilling rendition of the hymn ‘Faith of our Fathers’.

My childhood memories of the celebration of Corpus Christi may be simple and nostalgic but the procession, as we experienced it, was an expression of community and of communion with Jesus that united an entire village community with one another and with Corpus Christi.

As I reflect on the above experience, I ask the question: Where today do we find the opportunity to come together as a community around the celebration of the Eucharist? We need to be able to answer that question if we hope to remain in communion with, and as, the Body of Christ. 

Tom Sheridan – From Co. Wexford, Tom has been Executive Officer of the Spiritan Education Trust since 2016. An experienced school principal and the holder of an M.Ed. degree (in Educational Management), he is deeply committed to the values of Catholic education.