Celebrating Corpus Christi

Eucharistic feast reaffirms Catholic belief in the source and summit of our faith.

(photo: Shutterstock)

VATICAN CITY (EWTN News/CNA) — “From adoration to evangelization” is the theme of a three-day conference in Rome that is drawing to a close today, June 23, the feast of Corpus Christi, from the Latin for “body of Christ,” when the Catholic Church around the world reaffirms its belief in the Eucharist (celebrated in the United States on Sunday, June 26).

“The Eucharist is the first missionary act of the Church. So if we want to be missionary [people] towards a world in need of new saints and salvation, we have to be men and women of Eucharistic adoration,” Bishop Dominique Rey of the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon in southern France told EWTN News. 

The Adoratio Conference 2011 was organized by Bishop Rey in conjunction with the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist. The missionaries are a new clerical community, established in France, with the specific task of promoting continuous Eucharistic adoration in parishes and communities.

“In adoration we receive the fire of love, which enables us to share our conviction and have faith about the presence of God,” said Bishop Rey. 

Catholics believe that the priest’s words of consecration at Mass change bread and wine into the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, leaving only the accidents of bread and wine.

The practice of reserving the “Eucharist” — from the Greek word for “thanksgiving” — outside of Mass developed in the early Church. In the following centuries, Christians began to pray in front of the reserved Eucharist.

Bishop Rey said that a 21st-century revival of the practice is under way: “I think in a society with too many words and too much noise, many people look for silence, look for interiority, and adoration now is very important among different groups, particularly among young Catholics.”

Over the last three days, conference attendees from 38 different countries have heard the insights and teachings of many renowned speakers, including Msgr. Guido Marini, the Pope’s master of ceremonies, Cardinal Raymond Burke of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest court, and Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

“This conference is seeking to contribute to the renewal of the Church, especially its missionary thrust, by going to the very center and source of its mission: Jesus Christ and his existence in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist,” Cardinal Ranjith told EWTN News.

When he became archbishop of Sri Lanka’s capital city in 2009, Cardinal Ranjith made Eucharistic adoration his top priority: “As soon as I went to the diocese, I felt that we needed to work for a true spiritual renewal of my people, and, as a result, I declared a special Year of the Eucharist.

“Now, in every parish, Eucharistic chapels have sprung up, and more adoration has become a common practice. I have also insisted that people must receive holy Communion in a reverential manner, especially by kneeling and receiving on the tongue.”

Cardinal Ranjith said the results have been startling, with “many people who were drifting or who were even moving towards Christian fundamentalism” remaining in the Church.