A Corpus Christi procession took place at St. Agnes Parish in Naples on June 25. (PHOTO by BOB REDDY)

Corpus Christi celebrates the Real Presence

Naples  |  Margaret Patronne silently wept as she took part in a Corpus Christ procession from St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naples to nearby St. John Neumann Catholic High School.

“The power of Our Lord brings me great comfort,” Patronne said. “I feel so happy to be able to publicly honor him by following him through this neighborhood.”

As the procession made its way down Golden Gate Boulevard, traffic was reduced to one lane to allow the hundreds of participants to go forward singing in English and Spanish while also hearing Gospel messages along the way. Some of the people in the vehicles ignored the procession while others slowed to take photos or video.

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) is a celebration of the Eucharist and the Real Presence of Our Lord which is a tradition that dates back centuries and is often marked by a Eucharistic Procession.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane spoke about the feast day at St. Agnes Parish in Naples. During the homily, the Bishop said that because the Eucharist is central to the Church and is fundamental to our Catholic belief and life, we must take the time to reflect upon what it is we do at that moment we receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

“This gift that has been given to us, should change you, and change me, in how we go about living our life,” Bishop Dewane said. “It is also about the relationship we have with Jesus Christ and the presence of Christ in those around us. Stop and think about what it is you do when coming forward to receive the Sacrament.”

Instituted in 1264 by Pope Urban IV, Corpus Christi is also known as the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. It celebrates Holy Eucharist, which Catholics believe is truly the body, blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Feast of Corpus Christi is observed two weeks after Pentecost. The Feast of Pentecost, which was on June 9 this year, is celebrated 50 days after Easter Sunday, and commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ while they were in Jerusalem, as described in the Acts of the Apostles.

Corpus Christi is an important affirmation of our belief that the Lord is really and truly sacramentally present in the form of bread and wine. When the Lord instituted the Eucharist, he said this is my body and this is my blood not this represents or is symbolic of my body and blood. How can this be? The answer lies in the idea of sacrament. This was defined as “an outward sign” of inward grace given to us by Jesus Christ for our sanctification and salvation.” The outward sign here is the form of bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ although their appearance is unaltered.

Some of the larger Corpus Christi processions took place at St. James Parish in Lake Placid and Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto.

Participating in a procession is viewed as an opportunity to reflect on this gift of the Eucharist as the faithful pause at four “stations” for a reading and prayer and then conclude with benediction. It is an opportunity to remind ourselves how special we are that God should want to nourish us with the body and blood of His Son, and it is an opportunity to thank God for these wonderful gifts.