First Point.—Motives of the Church in instituting the feast of Corpus Christi. The principal motive of the Church in instituting a feast in which she surrounds the God of the Eucharist with so much magnificence, when she commands her ministers to carry Him in triumph about the streets of cities and villages, is to make Him reparation for all the outrages that He receives in the august sacrament of His love on the part of bad Christians. Jesus, having wished to constitute Himself a prisoner of love in the holy tabernacles; Jesus, having given us the sacrament of His body and blood for our nourishment, our support, and our consolation here below, should only receive the homage of our adoration and the tribute of our gratitude. Instead of this He is often the object of outrages which are most painful to His heart, by profanations, sacrileges, and the irreverences of which we make ourselves guilty. In consequence of these profanations, the Holy Eucharist, instituted essentially to honor the body of the Saviour, becomes for this very body a mystery of humiliation and ignominy.
Yes, the body of the Saviour suffers from us in the Eucharist a thousand times more than it suffered on the part of the Jews in His Passion In the Passion He only suffered for a time, but here He is exposed to suffer to the end of time. In His Passion He suffered only as much as Jesus wished it, and because He wished it, but here He suffers, so to speak, by violence and by force. If He suffered in His passion, He was in a state of suffering and mortal nature, but here He suffers in a state of impassibility. What He suffered in His Passion was glorious to God and salutary for man, but here what He suffers is injurious to man and to God. What a powerful motive to awaken and excite all your piety for this great mystery? This feast is one of gratitude for the voluntary humiliations of Jesus in the Eucharist. Place yourself for a moment at the foot of the tabernacle which contains your God, and strive to understand to what humiliations He has devoted Himself for love of you. Humiliations in the solitude to which He is condemned. When He was born at Bethlehem He had the two cherubim of the manger to adore Him, Mary and Joseph, then the shepherds, and, finally, the Wise Men; here almost always He is alone, His temples are deserted, a solitary lamp which swings before the tabernacle is only too often the only homage He receives. Humiliations in the obscurity of His Eucharistic life. He is concealed in the tabernacle; He lives there unknown to the world, as He once lived in the house of Joseph. Humiliations in His state of dependence. Even as formerly He was submissive to Joseph and Mary, so in the Eucharist He is submissive to the commands of the priest. The priest calls Him from heaven and causes Him to descend; he encloses Him in the tabernacle and makes Him come out from it; he takes Him in his hands, lifts Him up, puts Him down, carries Him to the sick; distributes Him to the people, gives Him to children and even to sinners. Jesus obeys, and always obeys. Humiliations in His state of annihilation. Was there ever one more complete? At Bethlehem, He was born in a state of complete indigence. The humanity veiled the divinity, but a miraculous star revealed His presence; if He leads in the midst of the people a painful and laborious life, in contempt and contradictions, all His steps are marked by prodigies and His humiliations do not conceal the Master of the world, since He is recognized by His miracles.
If He dies on the cross, His last sigh makes the world tremble, and countless prodigies reveal in the dying man the Son of the Most High. But how shall we recognize a God in the God of our temples? In the Holy Eucharist, Jesus not only conceals His divinity, but His very humanity has disappeared, and we see realized the words of the apostle with especial energy: "He is annihilated." On today the Church strives to efface many humiliations; she does not wish that the God of the Eucharist should be an unknown God; she withdraws Him from the sanctuary where He reposes, from the enclosure of the temples which contain Him; she carries Him through the streets of the cities, she adores and avows Him as her God. In fine, to set off the display of triumph destined to her King, she puts forth all that is majestic in her august ceremonies, the most sumptuous in her treasures; she strips the earth of its flowers; she borrows from profane vanity its luxury and its pomp, happy to testify to her heavenly Spouse her love and her gratitude.
Second Point.—Our duties on this blessed day. The occupation of a Christian soul on this solemnity
should be to enter into the sentiments of the Church, and with her to honor the body of the Saviour. And what is it to honor the body of the Saviour? It is to give Him all the worship which it can receive from us in the Sacrament of the Altar. It is to imitate Magdalene, who had a particular zeal for this sacred body, watering it with her tears, wiping it with her hair, and spreading on it sweetest perfumes. After her example, you should often prostrate yourself in the presence of this sacred body,
and there offer to it a thousand sacrifices of praise, a thousand interior adorations, a thousand homages, and a thousand acts of thanksgiving. You should say to it sometimes, with a lively faith and with ardent devotion: "Divine Body, Thou hast been the price of my salvation; what should I not do to glorify Thee ? The heretic despises Thee, the impious outrage Thee, but as for me, O my God, I am happy to offer to Thee the incense of my prayer and the homage of my love." Such are the sentiments which should animate you; and because the body of Jesus shall be today carried in triumph, your duty is to contribute to the pomp of this triumph, and to all the extent of your power. You are so fond of a thousand superfluities which serve only for luxury and vanity; there it is that you can sanctify them, by consecrating them to the body of your God, by employing them to enrich the vessels which contain Him and to embellish the tabernacles where He is enclosed, and to adorn His oratories where He remains. You are so careful of your bodies; you love so much to adorn them and to clothe them, and for this purpose you spare no expense ! But your body, that body infected by sin, that body which shall soon be only dust and corruption should it be dearer to you than the body of Christ?
In fine, because the body of the Son of God is taken out of its temples and carried in triumph, what does the Christian soul do? She follows Him in His triumph and gives herself as an escort. This is what the Spirit of God divinely expresses in the spouse of the canticles. She says she has sought her well-beloved in the place where he is accustomed to take his repose; but, she adds, not having found him, she has taken the resolution to go out, to go into the streets and places of the city to seek him. The guards and the officers of the city have met her; she perceives him in their midst, and at once she runs to him and she does not leave him until she has led him to the house of her mother. This spouse is the faithful soul. Today she seeks the Saviour of the world in His tabernacle, and she does not find Him there. She then goes through the streets and public places to see if He shall be there. He is there; in fact, she meets Him surrounded by guards and ministers who carry Him with honor, and the whole people make His countless court. She casts herself at His feet, she adores Him, she follows Him with her eyes, she does not leave Him until He enters the temple, which is really the house of her mother. Imitate her, and strive to pay to your adorable King the just tribute of your love and your gratitude.
Source: Short Instructions on the Feasts of the Year, Imprimatur 1897