More than 220 people gathered at St. Ambrose Parish in Schuylkill Haven today (6/6) for a celebration of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, also known as Corpus Christi Sunday.
The day began with Mass celebrated by Bishop Alfred Schlert and Monsignor Edward Zemanik, pastor of St. Ambrose, followed by a traditional Eucharistic Procession on the parish grounds.
Corpus Christi means “Body of Christ” in Latin. The feast day is a celebration of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
“This is a core belief of our faith, that Jesus is truly present in the Holy Eucharist,” said Bishop Schlert. “Too often we have lost our way in our belief in the Real Presence. Sometimes we have taken it for granted or even failed to believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ.”
The Bishop cited a study stating that less than one-third of Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, a core teaching of our Church. “Too often, the Mass has become reduced in our minds to a gathering of the community around the table, where Jesus shows up,” the Bishop said. “But it’s the other way around: It is the sacrifice of Christ on the altar at which we participate.”
Bishop Schlert also spoke of the importance of the priest in the sacrifice of Christ. “Even in Old Testament times it was the priest who offered sacrifice – his role was not to prepare a meal or merely to preach a sermon, but to offer sacrifice,” he said. “There is no sacrifice, no Eucharist, without the priest.”
He asked the faithful to pray ardently for vocations to the Priesthood, explaining that while the laity can fulfill many roles in the Church, only the priest can offer the sacrifice that allows us in an intimate way to receive Our Lord’s precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.
The Bishop announced during his homily that the conclusion of the Jubilee Year of the Real Presence will be celebrated on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi on June 19, 2022, at Most Blessed Sacrament Church in Bally. Built in 1741 in Berks County, Most Blessed Sacrament is the oldest parish in the Diocese of Allentown.
“As Catholics we are truly blessed, and when we fail to be in awe of the Holy Eucharist, we lose something of what has been transmitted to us,” said Bishop Schlert.
“May we always receive the Holy Eucharist with great reverence, with the proper disposition of being free from mortal sin, and may we always be immensely grateful because the Eucharist is our Thanksgiving and our joy,” Bishop Schlert said.