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Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ


31 May 2018

Ex 24, 3-8

Ps 116, 12-13. 15-16. 17-18

Heb 9, 11-15

Mk 14, 12-16, 22-26

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and for ever. Amen.

It brings me deepest joy to celebrate the Holy Mass in the Diocese of Włocławek on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. I thank His Excellency, the Most Reverend Bishop Wiesław Alojzy Mering, for his most warm welcome to the Diocese of Włocławek. I thank also all those who have prepared for and are assisting at today’s Pontifical Mass. I am offering the Holy Mass for the intentions of the faithful of the Diocese of Włocławek.

Pope Benedict XVI wrote his first Encyclical Letter on Christian love, reminding us that the source of all true love in our lives is God alone Who is the fullness of love. He reminded us that God Who is ever faithful in His love for us has loved us most perfectly by sending His only-begotten Son in our human flesh. Because God's love is faithful and enduring, the coming of God the Son as man is not just an historical event but an historical event which continues to be a reality in the Church. Christ suffered, died, rose from the dead, and ascended to the right hand of the Father, in order that he might remain with us always in the Church.

Writing about God's love for us in Jesus Christ, His Son and our Lord, Pope Benedict declared:

In the love-story recounted by the Bible, He comes towards us, He seeks to win our hearts, all the way to the last Supper, to the piercing of His Heart on the Cross, to His appearances after the Resurrection and to the great deeds by which, through the activity of the Apostles, He guided the nascent Church along her path. Nor has the Lord been absent from subsequent Church history: He encounters us ever anew, in the men and women who reflect His presence, in His Word, in the Sacraments, and especially in the Eucharist.[1]

Christ remains always alive for us in the Church, most perfectly in the Holy Eucharist, in order to meet us with divine love, "to win our hearts," that is, to free our hearts from the slavery of sin and to free them for the faithful and enduring love of God and of our neighbor.

Today, we celebrate the great mystery of God's love for us, the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is given to us in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. God sealed the covenant of His love with us, through Moses, at Mount Sinai with the sprinkling of the blood of "young bulls" offered in sacrifice.[2] He brought the covenant to fulfillment with the Blood of Christ, which was poured out in sacrifice, for us, from His pierced Heart on the Cross at Calvary and is poured out unceasingly, for us, from His glorious pierced Heart in the Eucharistic Sacrifice which He offer on the altars of churches and chapels throughout the world.

Today, we celebrate the Real Presence of Christ in our midst, His Body and His Blood offered for us as the Heavenly Bread, which, in the words of the Letter to the Hebrews, will "cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God."[3] Today, we are filled with wondrous joy to hear again the words of our Lord at the Last Supper, proclaimed in the Gospel and at the consecration of the bread and wine during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: "Take it; this is My Body.... This is My Blood of the covenant, Which will be shed for many."[4] How could our hearts not be won by these words, by the Gift which they express! How could our hearts not respond in love to God Who offers His life for us as Heavenly Bread!

In the wonder and joy of our celebration of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, we will carry the Eucharistic Host, exposed in the monstrance, in procession through the streets of this beloved city. Our procession expresses the Eucharistic faith of the Church, the faith which knows that what appears to be a small and poor piece of bread is indeed the glorious Body of Christ, present in our midst. In truth, we do not carry a piece of bread in procession through our neighborhood, but we carry our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Regarding the procession on the feast of Corpus Christi, Dom Prosper Guéranger writes:

The procession, which immediately precedes Mass on other feasts, is to-day deferred till after the offering of the great Sacrifice. In this procession, Jesus is to preside in Person: we must, therefore, wait until the sacred Action (so our fathers call the Mass) has bowed down to us the heavens where He resides.[5]

May our procession dispel the darkness of any doubt regarding the wonderful truth of the great mystery of our faith, the Most Blessed Sacrament. May it be, for all in our community, a sign of the great gift of God's love for us in Jesus Christ.

Our Eucharistic procession is also the coming of God to meet His people of Włocławek

and to bless them. God's love for us is faithful and unceasing. He wants to win all hearts to Himself, so that He may shower upon all the grace of liberation from sin, of liberation for selfless love. As we carry our Eucharistic Lord through the streets, we will pause three times for the Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament. For Benediction, my hands will be covered with the humeral veil, so that all may understand that it is Christ Himself, really present in the Most Blessed Sacrament, who blesses the people of the city and of the Diocese. May the blessing by our Eucharistic Lord bring an abundance of divine grace to all of the homes of the city and diocese, increasing the knowledge and love of our Eucharistic Lord.

The whole company of saints joins us now in the offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. They, who down the centuries of the Church’s life have known the great mystery of the love of God in the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, draw near to us, in order to draw our hearts into the glorious Heart of our Eucharistic Lord. The Virgin Mary, Queen of All Saints and our Blessed Mother, is with us to lead us to our eternal salvation in her Divine Son. May the Blessed Virgin Mary who first received God the Son into the world, in her spotless womb, assist us by her example and her intercession to recognize Christ in our midst and to receive Him into our hearts, so that He may win our hearts for the love of God and our neighbor. Placing our hearts into the glorious Heart of Jesus, let us make our own the words of the prayer to the Mother of God, with which Pope Benedict XVI concluded his first Encyclical Letter:

Holy Mary, Mother of God,

you have given the world its true light,

Jesus, your Son - the Son of God.

You abandoned yourself completely to God's call

and thus became a wellspring

of the goodness which flows forth from Him.

Show us Jesus. Lead us to Him.

Teach us to know and love Him,

so that we too

can become capable of true love

and be fountains of living water

in the midst of a thirsting world.[6]

Heart of Jesus, of Whose fullness we have all received, have mercy on us.

Our Lady of Częstochowa, Queen of Poland, pray for us.

Saint Joseph, Protector of holy Church, pray for us.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Raymond Leo Cardinal BURKE

[1] “In amoris historia, quae in Sacris Bibliis narratur, ipse nobis obviam venit, nos acquirere studet – usque ad Novissimam Cenam, usque ad Cor in cruce perforatum, usque ad Resuscitati visus magnaque opera, quibus ipse per actus Apostolorum Ecclesiae nascentis iter direxit. Etiam in Ecclesiae subsequentibus annalibus haud absens Dominus deprehenditur; usque denuo nobis occurrit – per homines in quibus ipse conspicitur, suum per Verbum, Sacramenta, potissimum Eucharistiam.” Benedictus PP. XVI, Litterae Encyclicae Deus caritas est, “De Christiano amore,” 25 Decembris 2005, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 98 (2006) 230-231, n. 17. [DCE]. English translation: Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI on Christian Love (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2005), p. 28, no. 17. [DCEEng].

[2] Ex 24, 5.

[3] Heb 9, 14.

[4] Mk 14, 22. 24.

[5] “La Procession, qui suit immédiatement l’Office de Tierce dans les autres fêtes de l’année, n’aura lieu aujourd’hui qu’après l’oblation du Sacrifice. Le Christ lui-même y doit présider en personne ; il faut donc attendre que l’Action sacrée ait abaissé jusqu’à nous la hauteur des cieux où il réside.” Prosper Guéranger, L’Année liturgique, Le temps après la Pentecôte, Tome I, 18ème éd. (Tours: Maison Alfred Mame et Fils, 1926), p. 297. English translation: Prosper Guéranger, The Liturgical Year, Time after Pentecost, Book I, tr. Laurence Shepherd (Fitzwilliam, NH: Loreto Publications, 2000), p. 254.

[6] “Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, veram mundo dedisti lucem, Iesum, Filium tuum – Dei Filium. Penitus te Deo vocanti tradidisti atque ita scaturigo facta bonitatis, quae ex eo manat. Iesum nobis monstra. Ad eum nos dirige. Doce nos eum cognoscere eumque amare, ut nos pariter evadere veri amoris possimus capaces atque sitienti coram mundo aquae vitae reperiamur. Amen.” DCE, 252, n. 42. English translation: DCEEng, p. 71, no. 42.