Solemnity of Body and Blood of Christ /Corpus Christi/

Reflecting on my childhood, I recall when Latin was used in our Catholic churches. Every part of the service, from the sermon to the hymns, was in this ancient tongue. This tradition continued until the Second Vatican Council, which introduced the use of national languages. However, for some, the shift was met with resistance. Latin has created a sense of exclusivity, making one feel part of a secret society with its unique language.

While praying for today’s holiday, we noticed the lingering mysterious language in our churches, even in Slovak services. The prayer directly addresses Lord Jesus: “In the Sacrament of the Altar, you left us the memory of your passion and resurrection.” It then asks: “Help us to honor the mystery of your body and blood.” Three themes emerge here, puzzling the uninitiated:

– The Sacrament of the Altar
– The memory of the Passion and Resurrection
– The Mystery of the Body and Blood

Who among us can claim full initiation? To what, when, or to whom have we devoted ourselves? The first unique concept, the Sacrament of the Altar, has been a cornerstone of our faith since the 16th century. It refers to the consecrated bread, a symbol of our devotion, during Mass. The Latin word ‘consecrate’ means to sanctify, bless, or dedicate to God. These consecrated breads were not merely stored but revered in a unique cabinet on the Altar. Initially, they were kept in a wall cabinet in the church, ready to be taken to the sick when needed.

The memorial of martyrdom and resurrection’s second term signifies an event or action related to Jesus’ suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection as the exalted Christ. Internally, it reflects Jesus’ covenant with God, inviting others into it.

The third concept, the mystery of flesh and blood, emphasizes a deeper connection with Jesus beyond the spiritual and physical. This connection extends to actions and sacrifices for others, similar to familial bonds and shared meals.

Jesus exemplified such relationships, emphasizing selflessness. In religious faith, this selflessness extends to dedicating our lives to God. Some see the Sacrament of the Altar as honoring a loved one, akin to a cherished activity rather than a static image.

The disciples’ transformation after Jesus’ resurrection exemplifies this shift from sorrow to beauty. By following Jesus’ ways, sharing meals, and living out their faith, they became initiates, companions who share bread and life.

We are initiated into something greater than an obscure language. When we see the consecrated bread, hear the priest’s words, and revere the holy bread, let us not just see a sacred image but Jesus’ life. The sacrament symbolizes this, guiding us to live in a way that reflects Jesus’ life.

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