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SOLEMN EUCHARIST FOR THE FEAST OF CORPUS CHRISTI WITH PROCESSION AND BENEDICTION

20 June 2019 7:30pm

The Feast of Corpus Christi (Latin for 'Body of Christ') is a service which was commonly celebrated in medieval England and although suppressed after the Reformation has been celebrated more widely in the Church of England over the past century and is part of the Church's formal pattern of services. It is the traditional day to give thanks for the institution of Holy Communion. After the celebration of the Eucharist there is an opportunity to give thanks by the saying of special prayers and the president blesses the congregation with the bread itself (in a monstrance, which means something to show something with) as a sign of Christ's particular presence with us in his sacraments of bread and wine. You may have been part of a procession of the Blessed Sacrament and particularly in continental Europe, these can be very elaborate!

There has been a wariness about the feast in some parts of the Church of England because of it seeming to sit uncomfortably with our Reformation inheritance. But at its heart it is a special day to give thanks for what, after all, was Jesus's own gift to his followers when he told them to 'Do this in remembrance of me'. The splendidness of the liturgy grew from this. Although he did not originate the feast, St Thomas Aquinas - the greatest medieval theologian - was instrumental in making it popular throughout the world. In medieval times in many parts of Europe, Corpus Christi was a time for the performance of mystery plays. So for example York's were always performed then.

The service in Ely is a moving and a solemn one where preaching and ceremony give thanks for the mystery of Jesus's sacrifice for us and how we are sustained by his gift of his body and blood at every Eucharist.

Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you that in this wonderful sacrament you have given us the memorial of your passion: grant us so to reverence the sacred mysteries of your body and blood that we may know within ourselves and show forth in our lives the fruits of your redemption; for you are alive and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.