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The Holy Eucharist - Corpus Christi

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
You might take into consideration this hypothesis when you think about the Last Supper. Suppose a person believed that Our Lord was God and knew there would be the Resurrection and the Ascension. If this person were to see His Crucifixion, he could ask: "After the Ascension will Our Lord never return to Earth? After all that He did for mankind, would He go to Heaven and never be present on Earth again?"

ascension giotto

After ascending to Heaven, would Our Lord abandon mankind on Earth?

Once He sacrificed His life in such a terrible way and established that special relationship with the men He saved; once He became the Head of the Mystical Body, which is the Church; once He declared that He wanted to be present through grace among men until the end of the world so that He would become the soul of their souls, the vital principle of their spiritual lives in its most nobler and more elevated aspect; once these premises are accepted, how can that person accept that, after His Ascension to Heaven, He would never be present on Earth again?

I do not want to say that the Sacrifice of the Cross and the Redemption would necessarily impose the institution of the Holy Eucharist. This would be excessive. But we can say that everything would supplicate and call for Our Lord not to separate Himself from men forever.

A person with architectonic sense would suspect that Our Lord would arrange a way to be present near each one of the men who He redeemed, that Christ would desire to be with every man during all sufferings of his life until the moment he dies.

alps country church

He becomes present in the small chapel in the Alps & in the grand Cathedral of Milan, below

milan cathedral

How would this marvel take place? That person could not imagine a way. But he could at least conjecture that this marvel would take place. It is extremely convenient for Our Lord in His role as our Redeemer, our Father, our Protector, our Physician, our Divine Friend to arrange such a marvel for us.

In fact, He established a marvelous conviviality with men by means of the Holy Eucharist. At every moment in all places of the Earth He is present. He is present in the majestic cathedrals as well in the small poor churches.

How many times, traveling on roads in the countryside, we come upon small poor chapels in the middle of nowhere that can hold no more than 20 or 30 persons. We are touched to think that Our Lord will make Himself present in that chapel. He is present in that minuscule chapel with the same glory of Tabor, the same sublimity of Golgotha, the same splendor of the Divinity. This is how He chose to multiply His adorable presence on the Earth.

When we see a Catholic we can think: Our Lord could have been present in his soul yesterday or He may be present there tomorrow. That man for an instant is transformed into a living Tabernacle. He becomes even more than a Tabernacle because the Tabernacle only contains the Sacred Species while a man can actually receive the Sacred Species.

So, we can see the prodigious work of mercy of Our Lord when He instituted the Holy Eucharist. Just as His presence in Heaven has an infinite value, so also His presence in the Sacred Species has an infinite value all over the Earth and in all men who choose to receive Him.

empty church

He docilely awaits mankind in the empty church

We see Him present in abandoned Tabernacles, being adored only by Our Lady, the Angels and the Saints in Heaven. Men are absent and far away. He is there docilely waiting for a man who wants to receive Him and adore Him. His humility and availability are disconcerting when we think that He is the King of Heaven and Earth. He is the Creator of all visible and invisible things but He presents Himself to us in the form of a small disc of flour waiting for a man to come and receive Him.

So little do we consider how our souls should be overflowing with recognition, adoration and gratitude for that which Our Lord brought into being in the Last Supper.

Only a Divine Intelligence could have conceived the Holy Eucharist and imagined this means of being present everywhere and of entering into men. Only God could do this.

Our Lady & the Eucharist

We should give thanks to God by means of Our Lady for the institution of the Holy Eucharist.

If it is true that every gift coming from Heaven to man is a gift that she requested; it is also true that Our Lady asked Our Lord Jesus Christ for the institution of the Holy Eucharist and that it was through her entreaties that He instituted the Sacrament.

Thus, we should thank her also for the Holy Eucharist. We should thank Him who condescended to institute the Holy Eucharist, and we should thank her who, moved by grace, asked God for this transcendent favor for us.

The infinite value of the Mass

There is another thought we should have: It is regarding the Mass. The Holy Eucharist is, so to speak, a corollary of the Mass. You know that Transubstantiation takes place in that same act in which Our Lord renews His Passion.

value of mass

A medieval illustration representing the Transubstantiation

The essence of the Mass, which is the renewal of the Sacrifice of the Cross, takes place in the Transubstantiation. This is the act by which the bread and the wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ through the sacramental words of the priest. This act is at the same time the immolation of the Victim and the determinant act of the Real Presence, which remains in the Sacred Species inside the Tabernacles throughout the world.

We should consider the infinite value of the renewal of the Sacrifice of the Cross.

So then, a person who, after the consummatum est, would see the Holy Women receiving the Body of Our Lord, Our Lady weeping over His immolated Body, the Body being embalmed and placed in the Sepulcher, and then the Cross standing by itself after everyone else had left – that person with a spirit filled with Faith would understand that the Cross was a symbol of an Action that had to be repeated. An Action that, by the same logic, should be eventually multiplied. And in fact it did multiply prodigiously and will do so until the end of the world.

Some theologians say that the Sacrifice of the Mass has such an infinite and priceless value that if a day passed that it were not celebrated, God's justice would fall over the world and destroy everything. There is a painter, whose name I forgot, who painted a very beautiful scene representing the last Mass on Earth. Amid enormous chaos and disorder, a priest was celebrating Mass and offering to God the Sacrifice of Calvary. Above him a multitude of Angels was waiting, ready to descend upon the Earth to execute God's vengeance and end the world.

But all the Angels were waiting for that Last Mass to end first because the reverence of God toward the Sacrifice of Himself offered to Himself is so great that even the need to unleash His vengeance and end the world would not take place until the Last Mass is concluded.

Joy & sadness

The day of the institution of the Holy Eucharist had two aspects: the joy of the Feast and the sadness of the Passion that was approaching.

corupus christi

Honoring the Blessed Sacrament on the Feastday of Corpus Christi

That day was also the day of the institution of the priesthood. The power to consecrate was conferred to the Apostles on that occasion. These were inter-connected marvels that happened on same day.

However, the day of the Holy Eucharist and of the First Mass – which should be joyful and jubilant – was mixed with sadness. Sadness because of the Passion of Our Lord that was drawing near and because of the Satanic hatred that sizzled around the Room of the Cenacle where Our Lord was finishing His work on Earth.

Sadness also because of the lukewarmness of the Apostles who were, nonetheless, the first beneficiaries of those marvels. Sadness because of the son of perdition was present there and would commit the most nefarious crime in all History: To sell Our Lord Jesus Christ for 30 silver coins.

Our Lord, God, with a prescience of everything that would happen, nonetheless did not hesitate to execute so many marvels for the benefit of those miserable men who, shortly afterward, would do all that they did.

An immutable mercy

You see here what a vocation is. It comes from an immutable mercy of God that nothing can shake or move. He had the plan to use those Apostles to be the pillars of His Kingdom on Earth. He showered those Apostles with gifts. They were unfaithful but the gifts were not lost or taken away. The Apostles ended by being faithful and the intention of Our Lord ended by being accomplished.

Our Lady of Mercy

Our Lady is always willing to show us mercy & place us under her mantle

Here we can have an idea of the mercy that may be shown to those to whom Our Lady gave a great vocation. We have here an argument to encourage us in our countless weaknesses. Over us also she has showered true marvels.

What has been our correspondence to these gifts? There are many reasons for us to beat our chests. How many, many times have we not met the expectations of our vocation? However, Our Lady continues to protect us and to help us with all kinds of graces.

May she keep this pact of mercy that she decided to have with us and make the day arrive when she will confirm us in fidelity so that we can finally give her a stable, solid and serious reason for joy because of our fidelity.


Blason de Charlemagne
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Posted June 2, 2021