In recent years, Corpus Christi has become the Feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord, but it as not always been so. Until Pope Paul VI’s liturgical reform, part of the rationale for which was to ‘simplify’ and contract feast days, a whole chain of related feasts followed Corpus Christi.
Firstly, Corpus Christi had an octave- a week of celebration of the feast. Corpus Christi Thursday is indeed another perspective on Holy Thursday, a different emphasis on the celebration of the great gift of the Holy Eucharist. Scientific investigations of several Eucharistic miracles have shown that the Blessed Sacrament appears to be heart tissue (The miracle of Lanciano was proved, 600 years later, to be living human heart tissue which showed signs of a traumatic death. ) The Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi then, is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, intimately linked with the sacrament of His love. The 1st of July is, in the traditional calendar, the Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus and the sacred liturgy guides us in yet another facet of our eucharistic adoration of the Redeemer. This cycle is completed by the feast of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus on the Thursday in the Octave of the Sacred Heart which was instituted by Pope Benedict XV in 1921.
Perhaps what has been dismissed in recent times as unnecessary duplication is, in fact, Holy Mother Church guiding her children in meditating on the many dimensions of such great mysteries as these.
Salvéte, Christi vúlnera,
Imménsi amoris pígnora
Quibus perénnes rivuli
Manant rubéntis sánguinis.
Nitóre stellas víncitis
Rosas odóre et bálsama,
Prétio lapíllos Indicos,
Mellis favos dulcédine.
Per vos patet gratíssimum
Nostris asýlum méntibus;
Non huc furor minántium
Umquam penétrat hóstium.
Quot Iesus in prætório
Flagélla nudus éxcipit!
Quot scissa pellis úndique
Stillat cruóris gúttulas!
Frontem venústam, proh dolor!
Coróna pungit spínea,
Clavi retúsa cúspide
Pedes manúsque pérforant.
Postquam sed ille trádidit
Amans volénsque spíritum,
Pectus ferítur láncea,
Geminúsque liquor éxsilit.
Ut plena sit redémptio,
Sub torculári stríngitur;
Suíque Iesus ímmemor,
Sibi nil resérvat sánguinis.
Veníte quotquot críminum
Funésta labes ínficit;
In hoc salútis bálneo
Qui se lavat, mundábitur.
Summi ad Paréntis déxteram
Sedénti habénda est grátia,
Qui nos redémit sánguine,
Sanctóque firmat Spíritu.
Hail, holy wounds of Jesus, hail,
Sweet pledges of the saving rood,
Whence flow the streams that never fail,
The purple streams of his dear blood.
Brighter than brightest stars ye show,
Than sweetest rose your scent more rare,
No Indian gem may match your glow,
No honey’s taste with yours compare.
Portals ye are to that dear home
Wherein our wearied souls may hide,
Whereto no angry foe can come,
The heart of Jesus crucified.
What countless stripes our Jesus bore,
All naked left in Pilate’s hall!
From his torn flesh how red a shower
Did round his sacred person fall!
His beauteous brow, oh, shame and grief,
By the sharp thorny crown is riven;
Through hands and feet, without relief,
The cruel nails are rudely driven.
But when for our poor sakes he died,
A willing priest by love subdued,
The soldier’s lance transfixed his side,
Forth flowed the water and the blood.
In full atonement of our guilt,
Careless of self, the Saviour trod—
E’en till his heart’s best blood was spilt—
The wine-press of the wrath of God.
Come, bathe you in the healing flood,
All ye who mourn, by sin opprest;
Your only hope is Jesus’ blood,
His sacred heart your only rest.
All praise to him, the Eternal Son,
At God’s right hand enthroned above,
Whose blood our full redemption won,
Whose Spirit seals the gift of love.