On Sunday, June 13th, we celebrated the feast of Corpus Christi, or “The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ” which commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist. After the 11 a.m. Solemn High Mass we had a glorious outdoor procession with the Blessed Sacrament in the parish gardens. The feast of Corpus Christi at St. John Cantius Church in Chicago is an important experience for parishioners and visitors. Flowers and incense prepare the way for the Blessed Sacrament, and elaborate chalk designs adorn the pathways to the four altars set up for the procession.
Members of the St. Martha’s Guild worked long hours with chalk and washable tempera paints on the granite steps to create a stunning display showing a jeweled chalice and radiating Eucharistic host being adored by angels with incense thuribles. The adoring angels were modeled after the angels from William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s (1825-1905) Queen of the Angels.
The Feast of Corpus Christi (traditionally celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday), recalls how Jesus instituted this the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist on Maundy Thursday. Thomas Aquinas considered the Eucharist to be the greatest of all sacraments (Summa Th. III: 65,3). Thus, the Church has consistently viewed the Eucharist as unique, even among the sacraments. Thus it is fitting that a feast exist to specifically commemorate the Eucharist. The Catholic Catechism summarizes this teaching of the importance of the Eucharist:
The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” “The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.” (1324)