The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

by Kendra Von Esh

Next Sunday is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, the Eucharist, the real presence of God—this is the source and summit of the Catholic Faith.

Gospel Reading: Mark 14:12-16, 22-26

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
when they sacrificed the Passover lamb,
Jesus’ disciples said to him,
“Where do you want us to go
and prepare for you to eat the Passover?”
He sent two of his disciples and said to them,
“Go into the city and a man will meet you,
carrying a jar of water.
Follow him.
Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house,
‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room
where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”‘
Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready.
Make the preparations for us there.”
The disciples then went off, entered the city,
and found it just as he had told them;
and they prepared the Passover.
While they were eating,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, gave it to them, and said,
“Take it; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them,
and they all drank from it.
He said to them,
“This is my blood of the covenant,
which will be shed for many.
Amen, I say to you,
I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine
until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
Then, after singing a hymn,
they went out to the Mount of Olives.

That is the Gospel—that is basically where Jesus Instituted the Eucharist. So, let’s talk a little bit about the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, historically known by its Latin name, Corpus Christi, it is not just a city in Texas. It celebrates the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist—Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, and it’s celebrated on the Thursday following the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity—the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, as we talked about last week. But this feast was celebrated on Sunday and it dates back to the Middle Ages and it originated with two things going on: 1) of a nun who had visions from the Lord saying, “Hey, I need to have a celebration for the Eucharist. How come there’s no Liturgical celebration in the church?” and 2) a Eucharistic miracle. So, again, there were two events that that prompted the feast of Corpus Christi.

First, let’s talk about the Eucharistic Miracle. In 1263, there was a German priest, Father Peter of Prague, and he went to Rome and he stopped over in Bolsena, Italy, to celebrate mass at the Church of St. Christina.

And at that time there were a lot of rumblings about whether Jesus was really, truly present in the Eucharist. Was He really the Living God? And this priest was starting to have some doubts if Jesus was really present. When he conducted Mass as he was consecrating the host to the Body and Blood of Christ, when he started to recite the Eucharistic Prayer, the Host started to bleed and it bled on the altar and the corporal. And just so you know, the corporal is a cloth that lays on the top of the altar and the chalice goes on the corporal and then the paten, which is a gold or silver plate that you put the Eucharist on, and it can also cover the chalice, both are on the corporal.

So the blood is coming out of the Host in his hands and dripping on the altar and the corporal. I am SURE that priest was now positive it is the living God in the consecrated Host. Then the priest contacted Pope Urban IV who was not too far in a town called Orvieto and brought some people over to investigate the blood. And then they ended up bringing the corporal over to him in Orvieto, where it remains today. The relics were placed in the cathedral of Orvieto. So that is the Eucharistic Miracle.

Then there was a nun who was having visions of God, Saint Juliana of Mont Cornillon in Belgium. She was born in 1193 and she passed and 1258. She was a mystic who had a series of visions where she was instructed by our Lord to establish a Liturgical Feast for the Holy Eucharist, which she had a great devotion for … I would too, especially if God’s telling me, “Hey, I think you might want to go put a feast together in the church for me.”

I have a blog out there on other Eucharistic Miracles on my website that I think you should look at because it’s not just this consecrated Host that shed blood. There are other miracles where the Host turns into coagulated blood and heart muscle tissue and are intact with NO preservatives. They’re sitting in water, distilled water—it’s insane … insane—to this day there are no preservatives! So, there are real miracles that you could Google any time, but I’ve done that for you on my blog. Go check it out if you have some time.

And the thing here is, as Catholics, we are either idolaters and we’re worshiping bread or that is the real presence of God and the sacrifice of the Mass. The purpose of the Mass is to receive the living Lord into our bodies and our souls. And there are many blessings that come along with that which I will get into shortly.

So, we’re either idolaters and we’re idolizing bread or it’s God.

Honestly, I had to do some research and quite frankly, it takes some real faith to wrap your head around the fact that bread and wine can be turned into the Body and Blood of Jesus. But come on, He IS the creator of the world and all the other things that He’s done as far as miracles are concerned. So why not give us His living Body to nourish us?

I am going to dive into the Eucharist a bit taking it back to the early church fathers. I know, I know, I haven’t gotten to how we celebrate Corpus Christi yet—I told you this was going to be a bit meaty.

So let’s take a look and see how the Church actually goes back in time—you can follow the Catholic Church and the lineage all the way back to the apostles. Let me be clear, after my research, I am thoroughly convinced that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ based on the early church fathers writings among many other things. You can tie back the teachings that the real presence of God was there from the beginning.

I’m going to read you a couple of quotes and then I’ll dive into a quick little part of the New Testament, John, that just reconfirms it for me. So, I want you to know that I’m not just blindly believing this. I had to do my research and really understand and OWN THIS. I mean I own this. This is passion for me.

This is why I go to daily Mass to receive the Eucharist every single day because I know what I’m receiving. I can feel the blessings and the graces that I get from doing so, BUT let’s get into the facts now …

Okay. Saint Ignatius, in about 110 AD, he was a disciple and a friend of St. John the apostle. He learned from people who were there with Jesus in the upper room people who were taught by Jesus when He commanded them that this is my Body, this is my Blood—DO THIS in remembrance of me. Every mass, every day, the daily bread. It’s serious stuff! Recall that throughout the Bible in the New Testament, after His Resurrection, people recognized Him after the breaking of the bread and the miracle of the multiplication of loaves, etc.

So, Saint Ignatius basically says, “Hey, someone who does not profess what we believe, that the Eucharist is the flesh of Jesus, stay away because his teachings are not sound and it didn’t come from the apostles.” Here’s a quote from St. Ignatius, “They, the heretics, abstain from the Eucharist and prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of Our Savior, Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins, which our Father, in his goodness, raised up again.”

The heretics in part are heretics because they don’t believe in the real presence. And again, we’re talking to people who were taught by people who were around when Jesus was alive. These are the early church fathers! Another quote, “I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ and for drink, I desire his blood which is love, incorruptible.”

Those statements are plain and simple. There are no words illustrating symbols—it is flesh and blood. You can’t really confuse that with anything else in my opinion.

Now let’s hear from Saint Justin Martyr around 150 AD. He explained directly to the Roman Emperor himself what Christians believe about the Eucharist. “We call this food the Eucharist and no one else is permitted to partake of it except one who believes our teaching to be true. For not as common bread or as common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ, Our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic Prayer set down by Him and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nourished, is BOTH the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus” Again, very clear. The food is the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ.

One more….Saint Irenaeus—let’s talk about him for a second. He was a student of Polycarp who was taught by John the apostle. St. Irenaeus is very close to the early apostles, and he wrote this in about 180 AD. “Jesus has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be His own blood from which He causes our blood to flow; and the bread, part of creation, has established His own body from which He gives increases to OUR bodies.”

So it’s unanimous, in the early Church, until about that time when those heretics were starting to question the real presence around the 1200 -1500’s ALL unanimously believed that the real presence of Jesus was in the Eucharist. Honestly, even Martin Luther believed it. He said something to the fact that if you don’t believe it, then Satan is in you. And then he changed his mind.

I also dove into the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Eucharist. I strongly, strongly suggest you take a look at it and please read it from start to finish. It is so rich but it’s not too heavy—it’s in plain English and it goes through the Mass and exactly what is happening and why we are worshiping and must be reverent to the Lord. It also talks about why we must…must (and Paul writes about this in 1 Corinthians quite a bit) be in a state of grace when we receive the Eucharist. That is why I go to confession at least weekly because I want to make sure that I’m as pure as possible so that when I received the Lord in my body, he can shower me with all these blessings … which I’ll get to in a minute. They’re incredible blessings and I FEEL the change and I KNOW what I get when I receive the Eucharist into my body every single day.

So, Corpus Christi or the Solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ has so much devotion in the Church. NO other devotion has received such attention in the code of Canon Law. So it’s super important. This feast, the Corpus Christi Feast is actually is referenced in Canon Law with the Holy Days of Obligation. The Holy Days of Obligation are days that you must attend Mass—they do not fall on your regular Sunday day of obligation. So it’s that important—again—the source and the summit of the Catholic Faith.

So during the Corpus Christi Feasts—during the Mass, the priest takes a second Host and he consecrates it and puts it on the paten, the gold or silver plate. And then he takes the monstrance—I’ve mentioned this in a previous vlog—which is a beautiful gold ‘ray of sun’ on a stand with a circle in the middle and they put the Host in it to display it in the center. Monstrance actually means “to show” so that is where the consecrated Host goes. And then after Mass they have a Corpus Christi Procession. So all the parishioners and go outside and parade around the church property and bring Jesus to the world. St. John Paul II went beyond the Church during his own Corpus Christi Procession and went from St Peter’s Square out into the streets of Rome.

But if you do go beyond your church property, you must have your Bishop’s approval in your Diocese and you must be very careful and plan accordingly because you are taking God around into the community and must take great care of Him. Some places in the community decorate their houses and some have their buildings decorated, so it’s a big event. If you have never done it before, attended the Corpus Christi Procession, please do. It’s all about bringing God to the world. It’s a fascinating, exciting part of the Church. It’s really neat to be walking along with Jesus and bringing him out into the world—so many need Him—and so many do not have Him in their lives.

Okay, almost done! Gotta go to the Bible—the New Testament and the real presence body, blood, flesh.

So, John Chapter 6, The Bread of Life Discourse—starts at verse 22 and goes all the way to 72 is where you should take a look. But I’m only going to read verses 47 through 69, Okay?

This is Jesus speaking here, John 6: 47-69

“Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the Manna in the wilderness and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever, and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood, abides in me and I in him. As the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died, he who eats this bread will live forever.” He said in the synagogue as he taught at Capernaum.

Many of his disciples, when they heard it said, “This is a hard saying, who can listen to it?” But Jesus knowing in himself that the disciples murmured at it, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life, but there are some of you that do not believe.” for Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe and who it was that would betray him. And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it has been granted him by the Father.”

After this, many of his disciples drew back and no longer walked with him. Jesus said to the twelve, “Will you also go away?” Simon, Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life and we have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Once everybody started falling away, well—not everybody, obviously the apostle stayed and many stayed. But it was a hard saying. Are you kidding me? This guy wants us to eat his flesh and drink his blood? Isn’t that like cannibalism—which some people truly thought at that time. And the Jewish faith was all about NO BLOOD—so this was absolutely contrary to the Old Covenant. But Jesus was establishing a New Covenant…

This is the Eucharistic, a fundamental belief we have in our Church, it’s our Faith. We bring Him into our body and Peter basically said it, “Hey, you have the words to eternal life. If you want us to eat your body—your flesh—and drink your blood—we’re in! We want to be up in heaven with you! We’ll do it!”

Oh, by the way, we also know why He wants us to do it! Because He wants to be IN us—living in us and have us receive the blessings that we get when we do receive the Lord in our body!

Some of the blessings that you receive through Holy Communion and this is right out of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the fruits of Holy Communion section are as follows:

  • Holy Communion augments our union with Christ.
  • Holy Communion separates us from sin and preserves us from committing sin.
  • Holy Communion strengthens our charity, which tends to be weakened in daily life and is this living charity that wipes away venial sins and preserves us from future mortal sins.
  • Holy Communion, The unity of the mystical body—The Eucharist makes the church so we as Christians are united in the Catholic Church through the Eucharist and the body and blood of Christ.
  • Holy Communion—commits us to the poor, so we recognize Christ in the poorest of the poor that they are our brethren and His brothers—how you treat the poor—is how you treat Jesus.
  • Holy Communion is the unity of Christians—it unites us as ONE CHURCH.

These are amazing blessings and I have to be really honest—I’ve received these blessings and it is why I go to daily Mass. I don’t feel right when I don’t have God in me every day and I’ll go find a Church, no matter what my schedule is like. I’ll try to go in the evening, during lunch, in the morning I make it work somehow!

When you receive the Lord you receive all these blessings—your life changes and that is why I am so geeked up about the feast of Corpus Christi, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

It’s amazing what God gave us!

So, I hope that those of you who go to Mass on Sunday because you have to and you’re just waiting for the time to click by are watching this and now realize that you are missing out on such a beautiful gift from God! And maybe you’ll start to be a little bit more reverent and thank Him and ask Him for the things that you need and to help you with the struggles in your life as you sit there waiting to receive him in your body.

It is not just a piece of bread!

This is why the Mass is so intense because people who are there, no, most people know what they’re there for and that is to receive the word of God through the Old Testament, the Psalms, and then the Gospel … we say the prayer of Our Father, we give each other the sign of peace, we say Our Creed to profess our Faith then we receive Our Lord. It is very purposeful, the Mass, and there are many resources that you could look-up describing what the Mass is all about. Scott Hahn has a great book—The Supper of The Lamb. Also, I listened to this CD of Scott Hanh’s talk, The Body and Blood of Christ. It’s a little heavy and it’s so rich! For those of you who aren’t too familiar with the Faith, it might be a little too heavy for you. But it’s one that I will listen to over and over again because there are just so many beautiful gems in there and he really makes you think.

Scott Hahn is a former Presbyterian minister, he was a SUPER Anti-Catholic, like he hated Catholics. Then he converted after years of research to Catholicism. His wife, Kimberly, struggled to come to Catholic faith herself. It took her a few years after Scott came home, but these two are now are the epitome of a Catholic religious faith-filled couple and they’re amazing! I met them last month at Totally Yours Marian Conference, in a suburb of Chicago and it was phenomenal! They are just amazing people!

I gave you a lot of information on this video, but feel free to go look at my blog for more. I talk about the Eucharist. I talk about Eucharistic Miracles. I talk about the Eucharist and confession, the two sacraments of why I really, fundamentally am a Catholic. And, of course, you can Google all this stuff and find more on Eucharistic Miracles and other Miracles of the Saints and all of that fun stuff if you choose to do so yourself.

SO—let’s remember at Mass what it’s for … this is my point here … keep the Eucharist close to your heart. Know that God is in your body. Know that He is showering you with Faith and Hope and Charity and other blessings and to treat everybody like Jesus Christ, to love one another as he loves you. It really does change who you are, so be reverent and know when you’re receiving the Eucharist at Mass that you are bringing God into your body and your soul.

It was a big one, sorry! Have a blessed and inspired week!

Kendra Von Esh is a Speaker, Faith Coach, and Author who has a passion to help others to deepen their relationship with God and the Catholic Faith.


The Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Rule of Law and Humility. It’s a shame whenever people break the law and gloat about it. Since moving to Baltimore, on a number of occasions I have nearly lost my life to reckless drivers who decided it’s within their right to drive over 100 miles an hour on an

Take Action by March 22 to Prevent Cuts to Refugee Assistance

Congress faces a March 22nd deadline to pass critical funding bills to avert a government shutdown. These funding bills include lifesaving assistance to meet the humanitarian needs of those arriving at our borders and millions of displaced persons overseas. Due to continued inaction by Congress, many essential U.S. humanitarian programs—both foreign and domestic—remain in limbo.

3 Things to Watch as Baltimore Considers Affordable Housing Requirements

After months of delay, a pair of bills requiring—and incentivizing developers to build more affordable housing units will be presented before the full Baltimore City Council Tuesday, and could be called for a vote. The bills are part of a package of what’s known as inclusionary housing legislation because they

Become a Parishioner

As a Jesuit parish, we believe we are called to explore, discover, respect, protect, and enhance whatever is humane and graced in every person, and in every culture.