An American Opus Dei priest writes a column in Sydney’s “Catholic Weekly” and a blog, which he humbly, self-derisively and accurately calls “Meditations and Mutterings”. One recent muttering concerns the intriguing question from a reader as to “why the Church has a second feast, in addition to Holy Thursday, in honour of the Holy Eucharist”. We learn that the celebration of the feast of Corpus Christi goes back to “St Juliana of Cornillon, who in 1208 reported a vision in which she understood Jesus to be lamenting the absence of a particular feast in the Church’s calendar focused on His sacramental presence on the altar”.
Now you will understand, dear reader, that I will be more than disappointed if after my death there are not one but TWO grandiose commemorations of the days I posted the first entry on the Blog, and the day (maybe today …) I will have trumpeted my Last Post. It is therefore not surprising that Jesus was a bit teed off with His Church for giving Him only one feast celebrating the Eucharist. Normal that He would have complained, and normal that the Church did what He asked. Spoiled children, especially when they are divine, too often get what they ask for.
It is bad enough to have to swallow this tall story, but the article goes on to tell another, about a German priest, Peter of Prague, who was, in 1263, “a pious priest, but one who found it difficult to believe that Christ was actually present in the consecrated host”. At Mass one day “he had barely spoken the words of consecration when blood started to seep from the consecrated host and trickle over his hand onto the altar and the corporal”.
This is the Miracle of Orvieto, where “the linen corporal bearing the spots of blood is still on display”. On the 700th anniversary of the institution of the feast of Corpus Christi, in 1964, Pope Paul V1 (who gave me my dispensation from the priesthood four years later) celebrated Mass at the altar where the corporal is kept.
Devout Catholics would miss the unintended irony of a phrase in the blog article, speaking of “the Eucharistic feast of the Body and Blood of Christ”. And what a feast, devouring the blood-drenched Body of Christ !
It is astounding – worse, pitiful – that intelligent people could believe the legend of Orvieto, and not even notice that the bit about real blood on the host makes a literal understanding of Holy Communion not only absurd but disgusting.