Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

June 6, 2015 Column Father De Celles

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Today, “Corpus Christi Sunday,” we meditate on the great gift of the Eucharist. One could argue that we have already celebrated the feast of the “Body and Blood of Christ” this year—on Holy Thursday, at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. But looking back we see that there was so much going on at that time, with all the events of Holy Week, especially our quick turn to Good Friday and then to Easter, that it is important to return to this mystery today and spend more time dwelling on it.

Notice that the timing of this feast is important. Three weeks ago we celebrated the Ascension of the Lord, the glorious completion of God the Son’s one Paschal mystery; two weeks ago we celebrated the Pentecost, the feast of God the Holy Spirit descending on the Church, and the end of the Season of Easter; and one week ago we celebrated the Holy Trinity Sunday, reminding us that all that has come before is directed toward leading us to share in the Trinity’s communion of divine life and love. And, finally, this Sunday we celebrate the greatest gift the Father, Son and Spirit give us to remember and participate in all of this: the Eucharist.

The Second Vatican Council (“Vatican II”) rightly called the Eucharist, “the source and summit of the Christian life,” because it is, above all, a re-presentation of Christ’s one sacrifice of the Cross—it is as if we are there 2000 years ago standing at the foot of the Cross. And so, from the Eucharist/Cross flow all the graces of salvation, all the other sacraments, and the very life of the Church itself. Moreover, since it is the true Body of Christ it is not only His Crucified Body, but also His Risen and Ascended Body in Heaven as well. As we say in Eucharistic Prayer I (the Roman Canon): “the memorial of the blessed Passion [the Cross], the Resurrection from the dead, and the glorious Ascension into heaven …” Finally, the Eucharist is also a participation in the Trinitarian life: by the action of the Holy Spirit the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus, God the Son who unites our sacrifices to His sacrifice of the Cross and offers us with Himself to the Father.

So, after we have celebrated the feasts of the Good Friday, Easter Sunday and the Ascension, as well as the coming of the Holy Spirit and remembrance of the Trinity, we turn to the rest of the year by saying, in effect, “and now we go forth with the Eucharist which keeps all these mysteries alive in us throughout the coming year.”

Because of all this we call the Eucharist “THE mystery of faith”–“mystery” here meaning some divine reality that we could not know or understand if God had not revealed it to us. It’s interesting that at Mass when the priest, right after the consecration, pauses and says the words, “the mystery of faith” many (most?) people think that the response they say/sing (e.g., “Save us Savior of the world….”) is the actual “mystery of faith.” As if the priest is saying, okay, now you tell me what the mystery of faith is,” and they respond with a definition. But, in fact, when the priest says “the mystery of faith” he is saying, “this Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Jesus now present right here on the altar, this is the mystery of our faith.” In fact, for over a thousand years these words, “the mystery of faith,” were part of the consecration prayer for the wine/Precious Blood: “For this is the chalice of my blood of the new and eternal covenant: the mystery of faith: which shall be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins…”

So let us give thanks with renewed confidence, awe, reverence and belief in the great gift of the Eucharist, the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, the mystery of faith.


Corpus Christi Procession Today. Please join us today after the 12:15 Mass for our annual Eucharistic procession around the Church property, a public profession—for our neighbors and all those who drive by—of our belief in Christ and His Real Presence in the Eucharist. We will start about 5 minutes after the 12:15 Mass ends, so feel free to come to church near the end of the Mass, or even a few minutes after Mass, to join in the procession.


Transgender and Common Sense. There is no doubt that some people are plagued with confusion and distress over their sexual identity: some even feel like they are females trapped in male bodies, or vice versa. Some of them even resort to so called “sex-change” therapy and operations. This has all recently been brought to the fore of public discussion, on a national basis by the so called “sex-change” treatment given to Bruce Jenner, and on a local basis by the change in policies of the Fairfax County School Board toward those who suffer from this confusion.

Contrary to much of what you read in the media, this condition is extremely rare, with some estimates that it occurs in only 1 in 12,000 men and 1 in 30,000 women. Moreover, the promotion of the acceptance of this condition as healthy and the treatment of this condition by physical “sex-change” is clearly driven by ideology rather than actual science.

In a June 12, 2014 article in the Wall Street Journal Dr. Paul R. McHugh, former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital, wrote that we: “are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention….[It] constitutes a mental disorder in two respects. The first is that the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken—it does not correspond with physical reality. The second is that it can lead to grim psychological outcomes.”

He went on to write about a 2011 study by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. “The long-term study…followed 324 people who had sex-reassignment surgery.…[T]heir suicide mortality rose almost 20-fold above the comparable nontransgender population.” He also noted: “When children who reported transgender feelings were tracked without medical or surgical treatment at both Vanderbilt University and London’s Portman Clinic, 70%-80% of them spontaneously lost those feelings.”

We must have sympathy for those who suffer sexual confusion, in any form, and we must always show them charity. But we shouldn’t ignore science, or 1000s of years of societal norms, or just plain old common sense, that tell us this is not normal, and can’t be fixed by mutilating healthy bodies. And we must not let the ideologues bully or abuse us or our children, whether in the media, or schools, or in your own neighborhoods.


Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles