Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the Solemnity of Corpus Christi (The Body of Christ) last Thursday in Rome on the traditional day. Many years ago the bishops of the United States moved the observance of this special day to the second Sunday after Pentecost so more Catholics would be in attendance and they combined it with the Solemnity of the Blood of Christ since both comprise the Eucharist we celebrate. The Holy Father quote Pope Leo the Great in his homily last Thursday who in turn quoted St. Augustine of Hippo that in approaching the Eucharist, “we are to become whom we receive.” A tall order under any circumstances, it remains true today centuries after these great leaders that it is the role and task of every Catholic Christian to take Christ whom we receive into ourselves out into our world, our home, our office, our school, our society, etc. The third and final year of our three year celebration of the Eucharist which we will begin on the First Sunday of Advent is entitled “Become whom you receive” and our speakers at the third and final Eucharistic convocation will reflect that theme in their presentations. We are honored to have Father J. Bryan Hehir, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Boston and former head of the USCCB Committee on International and Domestic Justice and Peace and the English former Dominican Master General, Father Timothy Radcliffe, O.P. among us for the pursuit of this theme. I hope you listened carefully to the readings today because they clearly draw the connection between between the Old Testament Covenant and its use of animal sacrifice with the New Testament Covenant and its unbloody sacrifice of the Mass through the horrific sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
Finally, today we celebrated the Golden Anniversary of Corpus Christi parish in Temple Terrace (Hillsborough County). Fifty years if a comparatively long time for parishes in this diocese and Corpus Christi has served its community well over the years. Among its ten former pastors are Fathers Jerome Carosella and Nicholas McLaughlin of the Venice diocese, Father Paul Goudreau, Father Alan Weber, Father Brendan Lawlor (who served twice as pastor) and for the last nine years, Father Joseph Waters who this summer will transfer to become Rector of the Cathedral of St. Jude. Many associate pastors have served these people well over the years. The parish community will begin its six decade with Father Robert Cadrecha as their pastor and everyone I spoke to looks forward to his arrival. It is a great day for the Church in the United States as we pause to reflect on the gift of the Eucharist and also in our parish of Corpus Christi. At the end of the ceremony Father Waters presented me with an award which they have been giving throughout the year to members of the parish who have been especially generous in serving the parish. My award was given not only to myself but to all the bishops for the past fifty years starting with Archbishop Hurley of St. Augustine who started Corpus Christi parish, Bishop McLaughlin, Bishop Larkin and (Arch)Bishop Favalora. The Mass today was a very fitting conclusion to a year of celebration. Ad multos annos!