I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (1 Cor 11:23-24)
In the above quotation of Jesus Christ from the Last Supper confirmed by St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians we recall the earliest of our sacred traditions: that Jesus commanded His disciples to perform the Eucharistic blessing “in remembrance” of Him. Some, especially Protestant believers, have proposed that this means that the Eucharistic celebration is a memorial, that is, a ritual or drama to be performed in memory of the words and actions of Jesus during His last Passover meal with his Apostles. Interestingly, many Protestant communities no longer perform the blessing of bread and wine in their services. It would appear that once a community sees the Eucharistic sacrifice only as a memorial, the community forgets about it altogether.
Catholics see the command of Jesus quite differently. Remembrance to the Church means never forgetting that when the bread and wine are consecrated they become the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. We believe that the directive of Jesus to remember “this is my Body” was proposed not only as a memorial but as a perpetual remembrance that the Eucharist is the Real Presence of Jesus Christ.
The best way to fulfill the remembrance that Jesus desires is Eucharistic Adoration. Holy Mass is the source of the Eucharist; it gives us the supernatural and sacrificial means to bring about the transformation of bread and wine to Body and Blood. However, it is Eucharistic Adoration, done in supplementation and in cooperation with Holy Mass that gives us remembrance: the reflective time to cherish what we have been given.
For this great day of the Feast of Corpus Christi, we place on our bulletin cover a work by one of the last great Spanish Baroque painters, Claudio Coello, entitled Adoration of the Miraculous Host (1685).
During the Eighty Years War, Dutch Calvinists invaded Gorkum, a city in western Netherlands and they took over the Cathedral. These “Sea Beggars” seized the Host in the monstrance and trampled Our Lord breaking the Host into three pieces from which the Blood began to drip. The painting by Coello commemorates the dedication of a new tabernacle commissioned by King Carlos II to hold the Eucharistic Relic, since earlier in 1594 the relic came to Spain through King Phillip II. Then and now it is kept in the Monastery of San Lorenzo in El Escorial.
During the invasion at Gorkum, the Sea Beggars also took four parish priests and fifteen religious priests and brothers captive bringing them to Brielle for trial or rather for renunciation of their faith. When the nineteen men refused to renounce the Pope and the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament they were cruelly put to death.
Each year the Eucharistic Relic is processed in Spain from the monastery in El Escorial. On this Feast of Corpus Christi we will process the Holy Eucharist in the city of New Bedford reminding all that see, that this is truly the Body of Christ.
–Steve Guillotte, Director of Pastoral Services