Sunday, 10 June 2007

Corpus Christi and the 40 Hours

Today is the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (often referred to by its Latin name, Corpus Christi). We celebrate the great gift of the Eucharist - a gift in which Christ is truly present and the benefits of His death and resurrection are made present to us.

For the Cathedral, it also marks the end of the annual 40 hours Solemn Exposition. During this time, the monstrance (from the Latin monstrare, to show) is placed on the altar with the Host (the Body of Christ) inside. Members of the parish take turns to pray before the Lord, so there is forty hours prayer (spread over four days) in His presence. There are some guided hours of prayer, and we celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours and pray the Rosary together. There are also many hours of silent prayer, where each of us can bring our own needs to the Lord, and deepen our awareness of His presence.

The candles and flowers (magnificent, as always) add a certain solemnity to the occasion, reminding us of the importance of the Eucharist.

The feast of Corpus Christi can be celebrated with Eucharistic processions, such as the one which took place at Westminster Cathedral yesterday. Click here to see pictures.