On the day when the universal Church commemorated the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, that is, the Body and Blood of Jesus present in the Eucharist, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., reminded the faithful gathered in St. Hedwig Church, Trenton, of how the day “recalls Jesus’ abiding presence with us in the tabernacle.”[[In-content Ad]]
“That is why we genuflect or bow every time we enter a Catholic Church… because Christ’s Body and Blood are present,” said Bishop O’Connell.
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Genuflecting or bowing before the tabernacle “is not or should not be simply a routine, thoughtless gesture. It is a mark of adoration of the Lord Jesus, present here and now,” he said.
More than 1,000 parishioners packed St. Hedwig Church June 2 for the 11 a.m. Mass for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi during which Bishop O’Connell was celebrant and homilist and Father Jacek Labinski, pastor, concelebrated. Following the Mass, the congregation joined Father Labinski for an outdoor procession with the Blessed Sacrament, traveling to four temporary altars where Father Labinski elevated the monstrance and offered the faithful a blessing. Different groups, including the children who attend the Polish school in Trenton, as well as the Knights of Columbus, Altar-Rosary Society and the first Holy Communion children had created and decorated the altars with flowers and candles.
In his homily, Bishop O’Connell spoke of how the Solemnity of Corpus Christi is “inseparable” from the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper in which the institution of the Eucharist is also celebrated.
“In fact, every time we celebrate Mass, we are drawn into that very same event of the first Holy Thursday,” he said. “On Holy Thursday, we recall that Jesus, looking toward his own Death on the Cross, took simple elements of the earth – common bread and wine – and transformed them into his very own Body and Blood.”
During the feast of Corpus Christi, “we recognize that those same elements so transformed, remain with us as his ‘real presence’ in the tabernacle in our Church.”
Bishop O’Connell admonished how results of recent poll surveys conducted among Catholics showed that less than 50 percent understood or held the belief that Jesus Christ was “truly, fully and really present in the Eucharist and in the tabernacle.”
“The Eucharist was described as being a ‘symbol’ of Jesus’ presence,” he said.
“They are wrong, dead wrong,” said Bishop O’Connell. “Our core belief as Catholics is that Jesus gave us his Body and Blood, his very flesh in the Eucharist, not some symbol or reminder.”