Not for the first time I find myself in complete agreement with Dr Oddie and his thoughtful post on the centrality of Eucharistic adoration in the Church.
Corpus Christi has come and gone for another year, and, frankly, I think for most of us it was like just another Sunday, which is rather a shame. Of course in some places, like Arundel, it was rather different. Perhaps Corpus Christi should be like an ordinary Sunday, or perhaps the other way around – in other words the feast should emphasise the glory of the Eucharist, which is after all celebrated every Sunday, and which reposes in the Tabernacle all year. But we are human creatures and familiarity can breed contempt. We need special feasts to remind us that what we have with us always is sacred, a gift to be treasured.
Next Corpus Christi, I am resolved, will not be an ordinary Sunday, if I have anything to do with it. When I was a young priest, I used to do a lot of house Masses – there were more priests in those days, so perhaps that was why house Masses were popular and possible. They seem to have dropped off in recent years. But why not do house Benedictions in the week leading up to Corpus Christi? There is nothing to stop one taking the Blessed Sacrament to six different locations in the week leading up to the feast and having a spot of adoration in each. One such place could be the parish school; another a hospital or nursing home; the others could be people’s houses or gardens. One could do a set of stations round the parish, a sort of extended procession. Perhaps this has been tried already?
I have been to two Corpus Christi processions in my adult life – just two. And how different they were! One was in Rome, where the Blessed Sacrament was taken in procession from San Lorenzo in Lucina down Via Condotti, a very expensive shopping street, where Benediction took place at an outside altarino. The piazza outside San Lorenzo is filled with pavement cafes and it was interesting to see the reaction of those sitting there sipping their aperitifs. Some stood as the Sacrament passed by. Others adopted a glacial and stony stare, cutting the Son of God dead as he passed on His way.
The other Blessed Sacrament procession was in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico, a beautiful little town by the side of Lake Chapala. The Sacrament was carried around the town square outside the Church and people shouted “Viva!” as it passed. Mexico is a place where Blessed Sacrament processions were outlawed by anti-clerical legislation, and Jalisco is a place where numerous priests were martyred by the anti-clerical government of the 1930s. And yet the faith lives on. Incidentally there is no better story told about the Mexican martyrs than Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory.
I have said it before now: but to get the genuine spirit of Catholicism, you can do a lot worse than a trip to Mexico! And we can learn from them about how to appreciate the wonder that is in our midst – the Blessed Sacrament.