Meditations on Corpus Christi from Ireland

I am sorry that I will not be in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral this Sunday to celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ – also known as Corpus Christi.  (The solemnity is actually today, June 7 – the Thursday after Trinity Sunday.  In the United States, we have moved the observance of the solemnity to the following Sunday, this year June 10.)  I’ve got a good excuse, though, for my absence.  You see, I am leading a group of pilgrims from the Archdiocese of New York to the 50th International Eucharistic Congress that is being held this week in Dublin, Ireland.

About fifty of us from the archdiocese are here to join with hundreds of thousands of Catholics from all over the world in for prayer, adoration, study, and celebration of the Eucharist.

While in Ireland, we will visit other sites as well, like the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock, and Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in the Archdiocese of Armagh, the Primatial See of Ireland.  But the real purpose of our visit is to participate in the Eucharistic Congress and to be with the family of faith in our communal savoring of the Eucharist.

A Eucharistic Congress occurs every four years, and provides a wonderful occasion for the Church to ponder and deepen her belief in the mystery of our faith we call the Eucharistic. The last one was held in Quebec City, Canada in 2008., and the Holy Father has appointed Cardinal Marc Oullete, former Archbishop of Quebec and the current Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops as Papal Legate – that is, his official personal envoy – to this Eucharistic Congress. 

So, hundreds of bishops, thousands of priests, deacons, sisters, brothers, and seminarians, and tens of thousands of faithful women, men, and children from all over the Church universal, are gathering in Dublin for what promises to be a very spiritually uplifting occasion.

Our faith, of course, is internal.  “The kingdom of God is within you,” as Jesus Himself taught.  The essence of our faith is an interior, sincere acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior, and of all the truths He and His Church have revealed.  The soul is the arena of faith.

Yet, our faith is also external, because our internal acceptance of Christ has profound exterior effects.  An interior adhesion to Christ results in a conversion of heart which has significant social, communal effects.

Thus, as we internally profess our faith in the Eucharist, we are moved to manifest that externally.  Think about it:

— we genuflect as we enter Church as a sign that we adore Jesus really and truly present in the tabernac

— we say out loud, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof” before approaching the altar, publicly indicating our sorrow for sin and desire to be cleansed, a desire that would result in sacramental confession when we are conscious of mortal sin;

— we bow before we receive our Lord at Holy Communion;

 — we say Amen, meaning, yes, when the priest, deacon, or extraordinary minster proclaims “The Body of Christ,” “The Blood of Christ”;

— we dress modestly, appropriately, for the Eucharist, giving a public sign that this is an event more sublime than playing tennis or lounging at the pool;

— on occasion, we publicly express our interior faith in the Eucharist through processions, Eucharistic exposition, and forty hour devotions;

— and, every four years, the Church universal sponsors a Eucharistic Congress as a corporate, ecclesial act of faith on behalf of the entire Church.

 We see so many signs of a revived appreciation for the Eucharist in the Church:

 — enhanced participation in the liturgy;

 — more opportunity for our sick and homebound to receive Holy Communion because of the generous apostolate of our Extraordinary ministers;

 — the growing popularity of Eucharistic adoration (in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, we have Eucharistic adoration about 5 ½ hours every day – about 10 hours on First Friday);

 — an increased awareness of the social demands inherent in the celebration of the Eucharist, acknowledging that the Eucharist has implications “beyond the walls” of our Church buildings;

 — a heightened sensitivity to the necessity of a worthy reception of Holy Communion; and that our partaking of the Eucharist indicates a communion not only with our Lord but with His Church.  Thus, we would not dare violate integrity by receiving the Eucharist if we are conscious of being separated from the unity of the Church by sin or dissent from clear Church teaching.

It was at the Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia, 1976, that we first sang “You satisfy the hungry heart with gift of finest wheat.

You are very much on my mind and in my prayers at the Eucharistic Congress as I praise God for the gift and mystery of the Blessed Eucharist!

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10 Responses to “Meditations on Corpus Christi from Ireland”

  1. AndyP/Doria2 says:

    Amen and Ahhmen.

  2. Delene says:

    thank you for coming to the Congress. I hope I get to meet you :)

  3. Peter & Claire Brockmann says:

    Have a safe trip, your Eminence.

  4. Dear Cardinal Dolan,
    I trust in the words I heard yesterday during Mass “God, whose providence never fails in its designs”. The Lord has brought me through twists and turns to you Cardinal Dolan. Just over a year ago on April 11 2011 we began a children’s rosary in West Hartford, CT. We celebrated our One year anniversary on Divine Mercy Sunday 2012 by dedicating this upcoming year to renewal of family prayer. To this end we have been giving out Read Aloud Children’s Bibles and handmade bookmarks. An inspiration came that as Jesus sent the apostles out two by two we should pray to a Saint to choose a family to lead in their spiritual journey. A nine day novena was said individually for each Saint. On each Bible and each bookmark was written a Saint. A novena to the Holy Spirit was also said to inspire the pairing. The first bookmark we randomly chose was for the Holy Father. The Saint to choose him was, St. Charles Lwanga, a martyr from Uganda who is one of the patron saints of young people. To date over 250 novenas have been said to different saints. One hundred and sixty-six Bibles have been given out. Next week 25 more will be given out to the 5th grade class at St. Thomas Apostle School in West Hartford. As each Bible is given out we ask the family to say a novena to a new Saint so that we can continue to give out Bibles with Saints to help each family. We also began having weekly Masses said for renewal of family prayer. During the month of May we wrote a letter to the Holy Father telling him of the daily rosaries and novenas being said for Him and our work to renew family prayer. We collected three pages of signatures expressing to His Holiness our Love and support of him. This letter was completed with signatures last Friday June 1st. It was that evening when I came across the Holy Father’s General Intention for the month of May which was: the Family. That initiatives which defend and uphold the role of the family be promoted within society.
    Cardinal Dolan the children’s rosary would like to humbly ask if you would give our letter and bookmark to the Holy Father. There is a joy that comes when you see fruits of prayers you have said. As I have experienced this joy as families come back and tell us how they have begun to pray again in their families the Holy Spirit seemed to be pulling me to let the Holy Father know of this work.
    Just before beginning this note to you, Cardinal Dolan, I randomly chose a bookmark for you. It was made by family with 6 children. On the front a child has written “Thou hast given the bread from heaven having within it all sweetness” . After selecting this bookmark for you I read that you are currently at the Eucharistic Congress. The saint written on the bookmark chosen for you was St. Mark the Evangelist. I hope to find a way to send you this bookmark and hopefully our letter for the Holy Father. The children’s rosary will meet this Sunday morning and will remember you in a special way in our prayers. We are excited because a young man will be translating our rosary into sign language. This is a wonderful addition as many of the children in the group have disabilities.
    We recently also started a blog for the children’s rosary
    Close to 5,000 people have visited our site from 80 countries. We now average 100 people a day on the site. I do not know how these people from across the globe find us but I trust that our legion of Saints who have been invited to join our children’s rosary have helped as well as Our Lord and His Blessed Mother. The intention to which we have been praying I will attach below. I thank you Cardinal Dolan for your time in reading this letter. I can be reached at
    God Bless!
    Blythe Kaufman and the Children’s Rosary

    To become a member of the children’s rosary one only has to tell the Lord in their heart of their desire to be a part of our group. You will then be included in all the novenas being said and all of the rosaries being prayed daily.

  5. barbara pepe says:

    Cardinal Dolan,Thank you for your caring and love for the church

  6. joshua says:

    Dear Cardinal Dolan,

    Thank you for helping us to understand, and thank you for praying for us. May God Bless you and bring you back safely to us.

  7. Thomas says:

    The Church in Ireland is in a state of collapse. You would think that the Church in Ireland would get the message. I tuned into the Eucharistic Congress expecting to see a reverent expression of real, Catholic devotion. What do I see: a bunch of old to middle aged priests wearing silly hats (during Mass) trying to act as little as priests as possible. Do I see reverant preperation for Mass? No. Is the rosary said? No. Are beautiful, doctrinally sound Catholic hymns sung? No. I see nuns in pants and jewelry and laity bringing up rocks and putting them in a pile (very 1970 by the way). I see rock choirs and “gospel” choirs”. I saw laity walking around with consecrated hosts in their hands looking for a chalice to “dip it in” themselves. It was very unlike the 1932 Congress. Look at the solemnity in 1932 and the 1 million people dropping to their knees in the mud before our Lord. Fast forward to 2012 to a half empty stadium filled with middled aged people who were slopply dressed and never once bothered to kneel AT ALL before Our Lord in the the MBS. This is the improvment of Vatican II? You bishops and priest just don’t get it…….be Catholic, stop trying to be an opening act of a caberet show and say the Mass with some reverence.

  8. Sharon says:

    Do any of the sessions of the Eucharistic Congress provide any catechesis on the Mass and the Real Presence?

  9. Esther Greene says:

    Dear Cardinal Dolan,

    I’m a consecrated laywoman, who has taken Vows to the Lord. I’m both hurt, and appalled, at your treatment of our Archbishops’ rebuttal of your report to the Vatican regarding our historic Irish College in Rome. It seems that the reputations of its four priest leaders have been damaged with no opportunity for them to defend themselves. You have our Blood running in your veins but that doesn’t matter, I presume, if it threatens to cancel out your ambitions. You’re not welcome here and I suggest you stick to your seat in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York and bask happily in the adulation of your fans. Also, I humbly suggest that YOU pray for True Humility and stop preaching to us Irish, because it’s a waste of your time. Blessings, Esther (and my name implies the defence of her Nation by the Biblical Esther).