Feast of Corpus Christi

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Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The feast was originally on Thursday after Trinity Sunday and was known in English as "Maundy Thursday." Instituted 8 September 1264. Thomas Aquinas wrote the Office for the feast. "'Tantum Ergo Sacramentum,' while usually treated as a hymn of its own, is actually the final two verses of the 'Pange Lingua Gloriosi,' a Eucharistic hymn that was composed by St. Thomas Aquinas for the Feast of Corpus Christi."[1]

Online Etymology Dictionary
mid-15c., from M.E. maunde "the Last Supper," also "ceremony of washing the feet," from O.Fr. mandé, from L. mandatum "commandment," in reference to the opening words of the church service for this day, Mandatum novum do vobis, "A new commandment I give unto you" (John xiii.34), words supposedly spoken by Jesus to the Apostles after washing their feet at the Last Supper.

Sequence for Corpus Christi

"Lauda Sion Salvatorem" by Thomas Aquinas (prose translation).[2]

Zion, praise your Savior. Praise your Savior. Praise your leader and shepherd in hymns and canticles. Praise him as much as you can, for he is beyond all praising and you will never be able to praise him as he merits.

But today a theme worthy of particular praise is put before us — the living and life-giving bread that, without any doubt, was given to the Twelve at table during the holy supper.

Therefore let our praise be full and resounding and our soul’s rejoicing full of delight and beauty, for this is the festival day to commemorate the first institution of this table.

At this table of the new King, the new law’s new Pasch puts an end to the old Pasch. The new displaces the old, the reality the shadow and light the darkness. Christ wanted what he did at the supper to be repeated in his memory.

And so we, in accordance with his holy directions, consecrate bread and wine to be salvation’s Victim. Christ’s followers know by faith that bread is changed into his flesh and wine into his blood.

Man cannot understand this, cannot perceive it; but a lively faith affirms that the change, which is outside the natural course of things, takes place. Under the different species, which are now signs only and not their own reality, there lie hid wonderful realities. His body is our food, his blood our drink.

And yet Christ remains entire under each species. The communicant receives the complete Christ — uncut, unbroken and undivided. Whether one receive or a thousand, the one receives as much as the thousand. Nor is Christ diminished by being received.

The good and the wicked alike receive him, but with the unlike destiny of life or death. To the wicked it is death, but life to the good. See how different is the result, though each receives the same.

Last of all, if the sacrament is broken, have no doubt. Remember there is as much in a fragment as in an unbroken host. There is no division of the reality, but only a breaking of the sign; nor does the breaking diminish the condition or size of the One hidden under the sign.

Behold, the bread of angels is become the pilgrim’s food; truly it is bread for the sons, and is not to be cast to dogs. It was prefigured in type when Isaac was brought as an offering, when a lamb was appointed for the Pasch and when manna was given to the Jews of old.

Jesus, good shepherd and true bread, have mercy on us; feed us and guard us. Grant that we find happiness in the land of the living. You know all things, can do all things, and feed us here on earth. Make us your guests in heaven, co-heirs with you and companions of heaven’s citizens. Amen. Alleluia.