Sunday, June 02, 2013

The Vision of the Defective Moon

Today is the Feast of Corpus Christi, or, to be more exact, it was Thursday but is transferred to today in many jurisdictions. The feast is one that grew out of popular piety and was formalized through the efforts of St. Juliana of Liège. St. Juliana had recurring visions of a full moon with a dark spot, and she (much later) came to interpret this as meaning that the Church calendar (hence the moon) was missing something, and, in particular, a feast for the Body and Blood of Christ. She had no way of doing anything about it herself, but she did tell her confessor, Canon John of Lausanne, about it, who actually started talking to other theologians and churchmen about it. It got some approval, so Juliana and John began working on an office for the feast, and it was celebrated locally in Liège in 1246. The process of getting to this point was actually quite controversial; it came in the midst of some serious ecclesiastical and political tensions in Liège, and Juliana and her nuns had to flee angry mobs at least twice, although not for anything to do with the feast itself. In 1261 a new Pope took office, Urban IV, who had apparently been one of the people John had talked to before; other members in Juliana's Premonstrensian community asked him to put the feast on the universal calendar, and the Pope, having developed a special devotion to the Eucharist while on the run from the Ghibellines, agreed. He had St. Thomas Aquinas, who was in the papal court at Orvieto at the time, create the office for the Feast, which has survived in two forms (often considered to be first and final draft). Urban IV promulgated it as a universal feast in 1264. The feast was very popular, but it had remarkably little official support; in most places for many, many decades afterward it was almost purely nominal, and it had to be re-promulgated by John XXII in 1317. It has since weathered quite well, however, since it is, with Trinity Sunday, the doctrine-focused feast that most easily survives every liturgical reform.

Corpus Christi

Bread is broken on the table;
into the cup is poured the wine;
thus by this word the Word our Savior
becomes the substance of the sign.

Adam's flesh from fleshly Adam
is freed from sinful flesh once more,
for we, by blood and by slain body,
are flesh and blood with Christ our Lord.

Speak, my tongue, of His scourged body,
now blessed and broken for our race,
of pricelessness of blood now flowing
to pay our price and grant us grace.

Sing, my voice, the song of angels
as here they wonder at his tomb,
which, its side-sprung water flowing,
encompassed us to be our womb.

Love, my heart, the changeless ancient
who descends from God above
to be a babe and passion's patient;
He is God, for God is Love.

Trust, my soul, in Truth most holy:
for Truth is true and does not lie.
All free from lie, from lies He freed us;
here see the sign Truth truly died!

Hope, my spirit in your Savior,
for He is life, in dying lives,
for us is given by the Father
to be this Bread of Life we give.

Shout, my sisters; shout, my brothers!
From on the housetops make it known
and tell the tale on every mountain
to own this well: you are His own!

1 comment:

  1. Cristian Ciopron1:10 AM

    I didn’t know the tradition of the moon, it’s


Please understand that this weblog runs on a third-party comment system, not on Blogger's comment system. If you have come by way of a mobile device and can see this message, you may have landed on the Blogger comment page, or the third party commenting system has not yet completely loaded; your comments will only be shown on this page and not on the page most people will see, and it is much more likely that your comment will be missed.