Nicole Seavey used the Corpus Christi procession as an opportunity to emphasize to her daughter the importance of the Eucharist.
Eight-year-old Charlotte Seavey walked with two of her cousins in St. Gerard Majella Parish’s procession on June 18 in Kirkwood. Charlotte, along with Genevieve Groner and Mary Helen Reuter, received their first Communion this spring and had the honor of walking in the front of the procession, wearing their dresses from their special day.
The Eucharist “is something they don’t always understand how special it is … it’s here every day,” Nicole Seavey said. “But then when you do something above and beyond your normal practice,” like a Corpus Christi procession, “it makes it more special. They realize this is something that it unique to us,” she said.
Parishes across the archdiocese of St. Louis held eucharistic processions on Corpus Christi weekend, also known as the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.
Pope Urban IV established the feast of Corpus Christi to emphasize that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Having recognized the authenticity of the Eucharistic Miracle of Bolsena, Italy, the pope established the feast in 1264 as a solemnity and extended it to the whole Church. Corpus Christi processions extended from the establishment of the feast.
This year, the feast of Corpus Christi also marked the beginning of a three-year Eucharistic Revival in the Archdiocese of St. Louis and in dioceses across the United States.
The revival will include opportunities to nurture the belief and devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski said in a video message about the revival.
The revival “is a beautiful invitation to grow in our living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist; to experience His love and mercy; and to share that love and mercy with the world,” he said.
The U.S. bishops are calling for a three-year grassroots revival of devotion and belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. They believe that God wants to see a movement of Catholics across the United States, healed, converted, formed and unified by an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist — and sent out in mission “for the life of the world.”
The mission of the national revival effort is to renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
In addition to a eucharistic procession, St. Gerard Majella also hosted the Vatican International Exhibit of Eucharistic Miracles of the World, which includes more than 150 eucharistic miracles recognized by the Church. (See related.)
“The Christian faith is not about an idea or a set of statutes,” said St. Gerard Majella pastor Father Michael Grosch. “The Christian faith is ultimately based in a person — the person of Jesus Christ. The Eucharist is that person. When we grow in our relationship and in our love of the Eucharist, we grow in our love of that person of Christ.”
The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist
The Catholic Church professes that in the celebration of the Eucharist, bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ through a kind of change known as transubstantiation, which occurs through the power of the Holy Spirit and the instrumentality of the priest and the words of consecration at Mass.
Jesus said: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world… . For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (John 6:51-55).
Christ is truly present, body, blood, soul, and divinity, under the appearances of bread and wine — the glorified Christ who rose from the dead after dying for our sins. This is what the Church means when she speaks of the “Real Presence” of Christ in the Eucharist.
“By the consecration, the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ Himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: His Body and His Blood, with His soul and His divinity” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1413).
God has given us eucharistic miracles as examples of teaching us about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
>> Eucharistic miracles exhibit
Blessed Carlo Acutis, a teenager from Italy, whose cause for canonization is being considered, had researched and compiled what is now known as the Vatican International Exhibit of Eucharistic Miracles of the World. The exhibit includes reports on more than 150 eucharistic miracles recognized by the Church. The display and presentation of scientific studies, miracle stories and the scriptural basis for our belief in the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
The exhibit, which includes accounts from as early as the third century, the latest in 2013, is to increase the awareness of the Real Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist: the consecrated bread becomes His Body and the consecrated wine becomes His Blood.
Parishes and other groups may host the exhibit locally. For more information, call Stephanie Helfrich at (314) 974-3740.
>> The Eucharist: A logic of love
Jesus Christ instituted the Eucharist for a reason, and is an example of the fullest kind of love — a total gift of self — that involves His Real Presence, said Lawrence Feingold.
Feingold, professor of theology at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary and the author of several books related to the Eucharist, gave a talk June 17 at St. Gerard Majella Parish in Kirkwood, in conjunction with an exhibit on eucharistic miracles Corpus Christi weekend.
The reasons why Jesus instituted the Eucharist all connect with a “logic of love,” Feingold said. “It’s the sacrament of love, the love of the bridegroom to be with His bride (the Church) through His Real Presence; to give us His sacrifice of Calvary made present here in mystery (of the Mass); and it’s Communion, that mystery by which the One who gave Himself for us, now gives Himself to us.”
This is why Jesus became Incarnate in the first place, Feingold said. Jesus dwells with His Church through the gift of the Eucharist.
Think of the Church as the bride, with Jesus’ presence on Earth as the bridegroom, he said. “We get an insight into the Eucharist from thinking about spousal love, the love of husband and wife for one another. Of all the different kinds of human love, spousal love is the fullest — it involves a total self gift” to another person through their presence.
Jesus also instituted the Eucharist, because He wanted that act to be a memory that we could fully participate in with Him. That is why the Mass is so important — because it is a representation of Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary. But the difference is that He could only die once, Feingold said. The institution of the Eucharist “makes Calvary mysteriously present at every Mass.”
And Jesus wants us become more fully like Him, and we can do that through our reception of the Eucharist and participation in the Mass. “In the Eucharist, Jesus doesn’t want to become us, He wants to make us become Him,” he said. “He gives Himself totally to us so we are nourished to become more like Him.”
Feingold will continue a series of talks on the Eucharist at locations around the archdiocese. For more information, see allthingsnew.archstl.org/Eucharistic-Revival-Events.