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A Dark Spot on the Moon
Linda Oppelt

A Dark Spot on the Moon

By Sean M. Wright

Born in 1192, St.  Juliana of Liège (or of Mont Cornillon) entered religious life as a Norbertine canoness regular. Of her, Pope Benedict XVI wrote: “She is little known but the Church is deeply indebted to her, not only because of the holiness of her life but also because, with her great fervor, she contributed to the institution of one of the most important solemn liturgies of the year: Corpus Christi.”

In 1208, at the age of 16, Juliana experienced a vision of the full moon shining splendidly save for an area of darkness, described variously as a spot or as a diagonal stripe. According to Pope Benedict, “The Lord made her understand the . . . moon symbolized the life of the Church on earth; the opaque line, on the other hand, represented the absence of a liturgical feast . . . in which believers would be able to adore the Eucharist so as to increase in faith, to advance in the practice of the virtues and to make reparation for offences to the Most Holy Sacrament.”

Not the impulsive type, Sister Juliana experienced this vision for 20 years and became prioress of her convent before describing it to a devout priest, John of Lausanne, her confessor. A number of local theologians were consulted and all thought it feasible to set aside a feast day of liturgical thanksgiving for the Most Glorious Sacrament of the Altar. 

Together, Juliana and John composed an office — the Mass prayers — for the feast. Their enthusiasm induced Bishop Robert Thourotte of Liège to accept the concept. In 1246, he introduced the Feast of Corpus Christi to his diocese. 

The beauty of this feast was not lost on the son of a cobbler, Jacques Pantaléon, who had become Archdeacon at the Liège cathedral and, later, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. Although he was not a cardinal, Pantaléon was elected Pope in 1261, taking the name Urban IV. 

With the bull, “Transiturus de Hoc Mundo” (Aug. 11, 1264), Urban instituted Corpus Christi as a “feast of precept” viz., taking precedence over any other liturgical celebration, even one of highest rank. He assigned its celebration to the Thursday following the Octave of Pentecost, the Thursday following Trinity Sunday. This was the first time a pope imposed a feast to be observed by the Universal Church. (In 1969, Pope St. Paul VI permitted episcopal conferences the option to celebrate Corpus Christi on the first Sunday after Trinity Sunday).

With Pope Urban’s wholehearted advocacy, magnificent processions soon were held throughout Europe. Homes and businesses were colorfully decorated with bunting, banners, pennants and flowers. As flower girls strewed petals on the cobblestones and acolytes swung their thuribles raising clouds of incense, the townsfolk, dressed in their best clothing, lined both sides of roadways. They sang exuberant hymns of thanksgiving, adoration and praise. 

All across the continent, as local pastors or bishops approached beneath a canopy, walking, or sometimes riding in a special carriage, wrapped in beautiful copes and humeral veils they held aloft monstrances containing the Eucharistic Jesus for all to see. When Jesus approached, the people cheered and crossed themselves. And, in the midst of wondrous, lengthy waves of genuflection, the inhabitants of every hamlet, every town and every city in Europe came to pay homage to their Savior and Lord.  

Gratified to learn of all the love and adoration directed toward the Sacred Host, Pope Urban declared, “Indeed we grasp the other things we commemorate with our spirit and our mind, but this does not mean that we obtain their real presence. On the contrary, in this sacramental commemoration of Christ, even though in a different form, Jesus Christ is present with us in His own substance. While He was about to ascend into Heaven He said ‘And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age’” (Matthew 28:20).

Sean M. Wright, MA, is a Master Catechist for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and a member of the RCIA team at Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish in Santa Clarita. An Emmy nominee, he answers comments at Locksley69@aol.com.
 

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THE BISHOP'S CROZIER: Resuming the Distribution of Communion Under Both Species

By Bishop James R. Golka

Bishop James R. Golka 0 489 Article rating: 4.3

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the chalice, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. — 1 Cor 11:26

The gift of the Eucharist and the celebration of the sacrificial banquet always include the offering of bread and wine. It has always been essential to the celebration of the Sacrament that the priest offering the Mass receives both the Sacred Body and Precious Blood. The practice of the early Church was to offer the laity communion under both kinds as well. This practice eventually fell out of use for numerous reasons by the 12th century (“Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds,” 17-18).

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Fr. Larry Brennan's Homily at Bishop Sheridan's funeral

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I am Father Larry Brennan, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis and a longtime friend of the late Bishop Michael Sheridan. Over the last 12 years, I had the privilege of working with him in a variety of capacities, coming to know many of you who are here this afternoon. Today I have the sad honor of preaching at his funeral.

We human beings have a variety of reactions in the face of the mystery of death. No one of them is the correct one. No one of them is normative. I know that they are all present here today. For many people, the first reaction is numbness or shock.

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NEW YORK. The life of one of the most compelling of modern saints is recounted in the inspiring documentary “Mother Teresa: No Greater Love” (Fathom). Its release timed to commemorate the 25th anniversary of its subject’s death, aged 87, the film also provides an exploration of her long-lasting legacy.

How the Feast of Corpus Christi Came About

By Sean M. Wright

Linda Oppelt 0 105 Article rating: No rating

Jacques Pantaléon, a humble cobbler’s son, was sent to a monastery school where he excelled in canon and common law studies.

Pantaléon was serving as archdeacon of the cathedral of Liège in Belgium when the visions of Sister, later Saint, Juliana, prioress of the Norbertine canonesses, became known to Robert de Thourotte, Bishop of Liège.

Making Sunday the Lord’s Day Again

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I propose we take a cue from a punk-rock band called “Taking Back Sunday.” Although the band name probably has nothing to do with celebrating the Sabbath, it just seems like an overall great project: Take Back Sunday as the Lord’s Day.

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