National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

Corpus Christi Sunday

User’s Guide to Sunday

BY Tom & April Hoopes

May 18-24, 2008 Issue | Posted 5/13/08 at 1:14 PM


Sunday, May 25, is the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) in the United States. Corpus Christi is celebrated in Rome (and most of the Church) on Thursday, May 22. Pope Benedict will celebrate Mass at the Basilica of St John Lateran at 7 p.m., to be followed by a Eucharistic procession to St. Mary Major basilica in Rome.

Parish shares Best Practices suggestions from parishes.

Perfect for Corpus Christi, Father Slider Steuernol at St. Agatha’s in the Archdiocese of Portland, Ore., offers a way to teach the Mass. The EPriest site quotes him saying, “I have done this for about three years and people really like it. It takes very little time, is easy to do, and can really help educate the faithful in the ‘whys’ of Mass which they may have never heard explained.”

He takes 30 seconds to a minute at the end of each Mass, just before the dismissal, and gives a “Mass Moment,” explaining the meaning of some part of the Mass or some sign or symbol used in the Mass.

Here are some examples that have been used as point of information for the parishioners:

• Why do we cross ourselves over the forehead, mouth, and heart before reading the Gospel?

• What does the Church teach about the Real Presence?

• Why do we have times of silence after readings, homily and so on?

• How do I to receive Communion?

• What is the meaning of the liturgical vestments?

• Why do we carry the book of the Gospels into church at the start of Mass?

More details on the Mass Moment are given at the EPriest website.


Today’s a good day to show off pictures of mom and dad at their own first Communion. Tom received his when he was 5, so he likes to brag about having received Communion more than most Catholics his age. We’re also blessed to have a photo of Tom’s late mom at her first Communion, so we can show that to the children.

April tells them the story of her mom’s first Communion as an adult — which April attended when she was 10. The real presence of Christ in Communion is one of the things Grandma Sheila most appreciates about the Catholic Church as a convert. is the Register’s papal blog. Check out the site this weekend for pictures of Benedict’s papal procession.

Media offers some great products for kids.

The Blessed Imelda “Glory Story” CD and coloring book are nice ways to show children the true greatness of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

The Readings

Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14-16; Psalm 147:12-15, 19-20; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; John 6:51-58. offers free homily packs for priests.

Our Take

Today’s readings are rich with theological details about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. St. Paul reminds us that the cup and the bread are a “participation in” the blood and body of Christ. Christ himself reminds us that “whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

But before all of the more complicated things we can learn about the Eucharist, we like to stress the basics. Why does Christ appear looking like bread in the first place? Here are some points to consider.

1. Bread is something we take into our bodies. It becomes part of us. The Eucharist, then, is God’s way of driving home the fact that he wants to continue his work through us.

2. Bread is ordinary. It’s something very common and unremarkable. We would never be inclined to worship it. So it should be clear to all that something extraordinary and “super-human” has happened when we worship the Host in adoration and in the Mass.

3. Bread is universal. Practically every culture makes a form of bread. By choosing this mode of appearance, he is reaching out to all people.

4. Bread is one thing made out of many grains. Thus, the Eucharist becomes a symbol of the unity of the Christian people, who together make up the mystical body of Christ.

5. Bread is able to be reserved. Although it is perishable, unleavened bread can last in a reserved form. Thus, when Christ takes this form, his real presence can remain in our tabernacles for adoration apart from Mass.

The Hoopeses are editorial directors of Faith & Family magazine (