Miracle of Eucharist focus of Corpus Christi

Published: May 27, 2024

Follow National Eucharistic Pilgrimage

Click on the button above to follow the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage. The nearest eucharistic procession to Arkansas is the southern route, which began in Brownsville, Texas, May 17. The southern route then winds around the Gulf of Mexico, and passes through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky before reaching its destination in Indianapolis for the National Eucharistic Congress July 17. | READ STORIES OF CONVERSION. | SUBMIT A PRAYER REQUEST.

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"Could not Christ's word, which can make from nothing what did not exist, change existing things into what they were not before? It is no less a feat to give things their original nature than to change their nature." — St. Ambrose

For the past two years, the feast of Corpus Christi has been marked by major events in celebration of the National Eucharistic Revival. The Diocese of Little Rock's observance of the movement began on this feast day, June 19, 2022, and last year, Bishop Anthony B. Taylor opened the new diocesan Divine Mercy Shrine, June 11, 2023, on the same day the Year of Parish Revival began.

The parish year, the second phase of this three-year effort to revive belief in and grow relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist, comes to a close with the celebration of the National Eucharistic Congress July 17-21. Leading up to this event, is the first-ever National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, which began May 17 at four corners of the United States. Four groups, each processing with the Eucharist, are crossing the country this summer until they converge in Indianapolis, Indiana, for the eucharistic congress, the first of its kind in 83 years.

Participants in the pilgrimage are following four routes (North, East, South and West). The route nearest Arkansas is the southern route, which began in Brownsville, Texas, and continues around the Gulf of Mexico and passes through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky before reaching its destination in Indianapolis. | Follow the route in real time.

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, traditionally referred to by its Latin name, Corpus Christi, is the feast day that highlights the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, — Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. This year it is celebrated June 2. | Learn more through these Eucharist resources.

The word "Eucharist" means "thanksgiving." It comes from the Greek "eucharistein" and "eulogein," which "recalls the Jewish blessings that proclaim — especially during a meal — God's works: creation, redemption and sanctification." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1328)

On the night before he died, Jesus shared one last meal with his Apostles. During this Last Supper, "he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.' And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.'" (Luke 22:19-20)

Through the Apostles' successors, the Catholic Church has been following Jesus' command to "do this in memory of me" for more than 2,000 years. "In order to leave them a pledge of (his) love, in order never to depart from his own and to make them sharers in his Passover, (Jesus) instituted the Eucharist as the memorial of his death and resurrection, and commanded his Apostles to celebrate it until his return; 'thereby he constituted them priests of the New Testament.'" (catechism, no. 1337)

Taking him at his word when he said, "This is my body," and "This is my blood," the Church teaches that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus at every Mass. Though Christ is present in many ways in his Church, his presence in the Eucharist is unique. He "makes himself wholly and entirely present" under the appearance of bread and wine. Therefore, the Eucharist is the "source and summit of the Christian life." (no. 1324)

"The Church and the world have a great need for eucharistic worship. Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go to meet him in adoration, in contemplation full of faith, and open to making amends for the serious offenses and crimes of the world. Let our adoration never cease." — St. John Paul II, "Dominicae Cenae," no. 3

Because of its importance, the Church has this special feast day to recognize the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. "Corpus Christi," which is Latin for "Body of Christ," traces its origins back to Pope Urban IV who declared the universal celebration of this feast in 1264.

He asked papal theologian St. Thomas Aquinas to compose new liturgical texts for the feast. His "'Adoro te Devote,' remains an essential part of the Church’s sacred hymnography. The 'Pange Lingua,' for example, is often sung during the eucharistic procession after the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, to which the last two stanzas are referred separately as 'Tantum Ergo' and sung at benediction of the Blessed Sacrament." To learn more, read Simply Catholic.

Traditionally, Catholics celebrate this great feast with a eucharistic procession, holy hour, eucharistic adoration with benediction of the Blessed Sacrament or a Litany of the Most Precious BloodIf unable to come to the Divine Mercy Shrine opening, contact a parish near you to find out if a Corpus Christi procession and/or holy hour will be held in your area. To learn more about the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith, read this special section from Arkansas Catholic, or follow the National Eucharistic Revival blog.