Church News


5. October, 2015Church News, UncategorizedComments Off

The Church is one Body of Christ with many branches. She speaks the language of her Master, Christ – Love. This Language, she speaks in diversified languages of worship. It is in this light that one can talk of different rites in the Church’s expression of this language of worship to the Most Blessed Trinity. In the Latin or Western Church, public worship otherwise known as Liturgy is celebrated in some rites accepted by the Church so long as it does not go against the essence of the Church’s Doctrine and Tradition. Thus, in the celebration of the Eucharist, the Church has such rites like: Coptic Rite, Ethiopic Rite, Maronite and Syrian Rites, Armenian Rite, Chaldean Rite and Malabar Rite. The RC Diocese of Lancaster on 3rd October, 2015 was blessed to inaugurate the Syro-Malabar Catholic worship in one its old parishes – St. Ignatius, Preston. This is a landmark achievement as it is first of its kind in the UK in that it is its first canonical establishment in the history of the Catholic Church in the UK.  Receiving the the Decree of the Inauguration, His Beatitude, Mar George Cardinal Alancherry said: “My dear people of the Syro-Malabar Catholic rite, May I thank Bishop Michael Jean Campbell, OSA, for this great act of Christian Charity. This Inauguration is to be received and seen as an act of mercy in this Jubilee Year of Mercy; and should bring about great mutual relationship between the Catholic Church in England and the Indian Syro-Malabar Catholic Community.” His point of climax was his reflection on the Church as Communion. Therefore, he urged the Syro-Malabar Catholic Community to truly understand that both Latin Rite and Syro-Malabar Rite are one. As such, the communion model of the Church is to be appreciated, lived and promoted. The Parish Church is to be used for worship by both Latin and Syro-Malabar Rites.  In his homily, the Cardinal quoting Pope Francis said, “the greatest expression of joy is to be found in celebration of the Eucharist.” Thanking the Bishop of RC Diocese of Lancaster, he encouraged all to imbibe the good spirit of generosity and loving mercy manifested by the Bishop. To conclude, His Beatitude, Mar George Cardinal Alancherry acclaimed: “Let us stay together! Let us pray together! Let us worship God together!

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The visit of the V. Rev Denis M J Ononuju Obiaga

31. August, 2015Church News, Ladyewell NewsComments Off

IMG_1665The Parish of St. Mary’s & Ladyewell wereIMG_1663 honoured and delighted to welcome a special visitor earlier in August,

The Very Rev. Fr Denis M. J. Ononuju Obiaga C.S.Sp was the first Nigerian Holy Ghost proest and the Father Founder of the Holy Family Fathers and Brothers of the Youth (the Order which Fr Ernest and Fr Mario are members) and the Holy Family Sisters of the Needy.

Fr Denis spent a few days visiting Fernyhalgh and other parts of the Diocese during a brief visit to the UK.  Fr Denis was able to meet some of the volunteers and parishioners during this time and we look forward to hopefully welcoming Fr Denis to Fernyhalgh again in the future.   IMG_1667

We are grateful to Fr Denis for taking the time to visit us and for his part in allowing the members of his Order to come to our parish at this time.


Robert Ashuikeka Otuya (RIP)

31. August, 2015Church News, Ladyewell NewsComments Off

Martin Luther King Jr. did say that “Death is not an Aristocracy for a few, but a Democracy for many.” With the above quote, Fr. Ernest Attah, H.F.F.B.Y began his homily on the death of Robert Ashuikeka Otuya and the lessons every Christian is to learn from the event of death as an unavoidable end of earthly existence, but a beginning of a new life in Christ Jesus for those who believe. 

Great men come and go, but their memories never depart with them. It was a great day for Fr. Mario-Benedict, a day of mixed joy on the 27th August celebrating the farewell Mass, otherwise REQUIEM MASS for his late father, the late Robert Ashuikeka Otuya. The Mass was celebrated with 9 priests con-celebrating and many faithful of the Parish and friends of Ladyewell Shrine in attendance. May God grant the family in Nigeria the fortitude to bear the loss in the hope of Resurrection and to Robert Ashuikeka Otuya eternal rest in his Kingdom. Amen.  



Homily Reflection – Solenity of the Nativity of John the Baptist

24. June, 2015Church News, Ladyewell NewsComments Off


R1. Is 49:1-6//Ps 139:1-3, 13-15(R14)

R2. Acts 13:22-267//Accl. Luke 1:76// Gosp. Luke 1:57-66, 80


1.0     Introduction

The Church celebrates three birthday solemnities– The Nativity of Jesus, the Nativity of Mary and that of John the Baptist. This gives a glimpse of the greatness of the saint whose birthday we celebrate. Little wonder Jesus himself proclaimed of John the Baptist, “I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John” (Luke 7:28). This is true to the name of John whose meaning is “God’s gracious gift.” Ordinarily, gifts when received are celebrated to show appreciation to the giver and the gift itself. If such is the situation for mere human artefacts, how much greater is the worth of a human being? How great was the joy of Zechariah and Elizabeth who at this point receives the gift of a child from God whose nature knows no impossibility? Children, indeed, are God’s gracious gifts to us. As such, the birth of a child initiates a joyful celebration.

2.0     The Feast of today

Birthday celebrations in our secular world renew the joy of our birth as God’s gracious gifts. On such days, one receives many pleasantries and gifts of value from family and friends, reminders of our worth to them. Today, we gather to celebrate the birthday of John the Baptist. What gifts and pleasantries do we bring to the Creator and Giver of the Gift?

In the first reading, God speaks through Isaiah to us reminding us that we are His precious gifts to the world created by him in love. As such, we have being destined by him for a purpose, or if you like a mission (49:1-6). The Responsorial Psalm sings this beauty of our being wonderfully,

It was you who created my inmost self, and put me together in my mother’s womb; for all these mysteries I thank you: for the wonder of myself, for the wonder of your works (Ps 139:13-14).

The early part of Luke 1 from which today’s gospel episode is taken has it that John already received the Holy Spirit in his mother’s womb for his mission (cf. Luke 1:15). Therefore, his birth and the scenario of the name giving only reveal the significance of God’s power through creation. Today’s feast, therefore, reveals that from the moment of our conception, God already started a great work which reveals more his Omnipotence and Omni-benevolence. This St. Paul speaks of in relation to the mission of John the Baptist in the second reading (Acts 13: 22-26).

3.0     Celebration of John the Baptist’s Birth: Implications for us today

The world in which we live has become a network of the enthronement of maniac mundane cultures that thwart the will of the Almighty who in his love created it. From the readings, one understands that the birth of a child initiates God’s great blessings and glorious works in the life of the recipients of the gracious gift. However, the opposite seems to hold sway in our time. Our world has gone mad with enthroning the culture of death as against the culture of life. Evidence of this is seen in the signing into law bills of cultures that demean not only the value of man, but life itself. The greatest of these cultures is abortion, which contravenes the will of the Almighty for the purpose of life. Children are gifts from God and continue the progress of God’s work of creation, a sign and proof of the fecundity of his love. When a pre-born child is aborted, a whole lot of God’s love and blessing for our generation is aborted and destroyed for all eternity.

Oh! How many great men and women our world has lost to the culture of death today! It is clear to me that the words of Pope Francis prove a fact that “a generation that kills her children has no future.” God has a glorious and blessed purpose in the birth of every child. This he makes clear to us in the words of Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you a prophet to the nations” (1:5). This indicates that God has marked every one of us like Jeremiah, Amos, John the Baptist, Ss Francis of Assisi, Pio of Pietrelcina Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Calcutta, etc for a special mission. If the denial of an opportunity to fulfil one’s good and gracious right/mission is awful, painful and inconsiderate, how much awful, horrible, inhuman and disastrous the denial of right to life and mission? How many times have you involved yourself in promoting the culture of death?

4.0     Conclusion/Prayer

Birthday celebrations are continuations of the celebrations of a joyous gift – man/woman, the “beauty of life.” Let us realise, therefore, that it is a holy duty bound on us to protect life in order to enhance our joy in life and joy of celebrating the precious gift of life in man. We pray that God strengthens us each day to stand firm on the side of the culture of life. May the birthday celebration of John the Baptist restore in our world deep appreciation and value for Life.

May the good Lord bless his words in our hearts and bring them to fruition. Peace be with you.     

Diocese of Lancaster – Pilgrimage to Ladyewell 2015

24. June, 2015Church News, Ladyewell NewsComments Off



1.0       Introduction: Pilgrimage

Pilgrimage is a journey, religious in character, made by people of different religions. This journey is made either by individuals or by a group of people of same belief. Pilgrimages are made for various reasons, which could be classified, as moral or religious. On the one hand, it is to help encourage the individual or group in their religious practices and beliefs; while on another hand it is made to have some kind of religious experience/healing of bodily ailments. Although it may have some characteristics of penance, it is not necessarily penitential as such. To this extent, I can say that a pilgrimage is a journey of faith. There are various sites and places of pilgrimages. In other religions apart from Christianity, they are places or shrines dedicated to the sacred or important persons in relation to the practice of such religion. In Christianity, these are dedicated places either to Jesus, Mary the ever-Blessed Virgin or to the saints. For Christians, Jerusalem is the ancient pilgrimage centre in Judeo-Christian tradition. Here, Christians visit sites of interest relating to their faith – Mount Sinai, Mount Calvary where the crucifixion of Jesus took place, Nazareth the home of Jesus, the tomb of the resurrection, etc. Individuals or groups visit these places for the purposes of prayers and other interests.

Pilgrimage has God for its origin. The first pilgrimage ever taken is the pilgrimage of God to humanity crowned with the Incarnation of Jesus in the womb of the Ever-Blessed Virgin Mary (cf. Luke 1: 36-38; John 1:14). The Scriptures record that the parents of Jesus went on pilgrimage worship to Jerusalem, an event that led the loss and finding of Jesus in the temple (cf. Luke 2:41-43). Jesus himself went on pilgrimages to Jerusalem (cf. John 5:1; 7:14). Suffice here to say that pilgrimage from the point of view of the Scriptures in relation to God is a holy religious act. At the end of his life here on earth, Jesus promised his disciples of his return to take them after he had gone and prepared a place for them (cf. John 14:3-6). By this, there is every indication that the disciples are on pilgrimage here on earth. Little wonder, then, Jesus in his priestly prayer did mention that they are not of this world (cf. John 17:16; 15:19). Thus, every believer in Christ has a destination – God’s Kingdom, for we have come from God and are returning to God (cf. 1Thess 4:13-5:22). To this fact, the Fathers of Vatican II teach that the Church is a pilgrim on pilgrimage.[i] Therefore, pilgrimages are done with a view that we are living out in specially focused and prayerful way our journey from God back to God.


2.0       Lancaster RC Diocesan Pilgrimage

Centres of Pilgrimages are places of serenity that exhibit good atmosphere for serene encounter with the Divine through prayers and meditations. Though some places of pilgrimage are somewhat awe-inspiring, they are always quiet, peaceful and tremendously attracting like a mystery. Ladyewell Shrine has all these features in its environment. Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue in his forward to the book A History of Our Lady of Fernyhalgh and the Martyrs describes it beautifully, “Fernyhalgh is mysterious; it is not superstition. It is tranquil; it is not hysterical… it represents a haven of silence and prayer; a vibrant centre of pilgrimage and devotion. It is a place where divine power and providence operate.”[ii] Therefore, “Fernyhalgh has no need of fiction to support its claim to be one of the really important centres of devotion to Our Blessed Lady in England.”[iii]

Pilgrimages to Ladyewell Shrine, Fernyhalgh have been going on for centuries. Diocesan pilgrimages, parish and lay groups and associations began to grow in the 20th century. There were, for example, large pilgrimages to this historic Shrine of our Lady and the Martyrs in the year of Mary at the time and Pontificate of Pius XII. The first large pilgrimage involving Lancaster RC Diocese and the environs of Liverpool was on the feast of the Assumption in 1965.[iv] The first ever reference to an offical Lancaster RC Diocesan pilgrimage available comes to us from Catherine Stirzaker. This occurred on 8th September 1996 on which occasion the relics of St. Thomas a Becket were venerated.[v] The next was on 8th September 1999 and led by Cahal Cardinal Daly.[vi] Annual Diocesan Pilgrimages have this date.

3.0       Annual Diocesan Pilgrimage, 20th June 2015

We witnessed another of these holy pilgrimages of the diocese to Ladyewell Shrine. This day is remarkable both in the lives of the faithful of the diocese in attendance, but much more to Frs Ernest E. Attah, H.F.F.B.Y and Mario-Benedict U. Ahuikeka, H.F.F.B.Y, the new Directors of the Shrine of our Lady and the Lancaster Martyrs. It was a day blessed by the Mother of God with showers at the beginning of the pilgrimage. After the spiritual activities, pilgrims were well received and attended to at the Ladyewell Shrine House as the rest of the day was blessed with sunshine.

This year’s pilgrimage led by Bishop Michael Cambell, OSA was remarkably blessed with a large number of the faithful, priests, religious women and seminarians in attendance. Prayers of the rosary, Eucharistic adoration and procession, homily and moments of silence and prayers for the country and vocations were the characteristic features of the pilgrimage day.

In his homily, the Bishop exhorted the faithful to develop love and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In this way, we give back love in return for his love, thus begin to learn how to love from him who is meek and humble of heart. Going further, the Bishop said, “Devotion to the Sacred Heart reminds us that we will always find a welcome with Our Lord. He waits for us to come to him, especially if we are burdened, tired, or oppressed by the cares of daily life. He invites us to come to him, for he knows and understands well our human condition. A pilgrimage gives us the opportunity to be quiet and to step aside just to be with Jesus and his mother for a little while.”[vii]

4.0       Conclusion

Actually going on a pilgrimage to a holy place approved by the Church for such purposes is a powerful reminder that we are in truth and fact on journey back to God. Taking part in a diocesan pilgrimage as well as individually going on a pilgrimage affords us great opportunity of spiritual enrichment and binds us ever closer to God’s pilgrim people – his Church on earth. This year’s pilgrimage was indeed a beautiful day filled with wonderful experiences both for the new priests to Fernyhalgh and the priests and faithful of the diocese.




[i] Lumen Gentium, #48

[ii] O’Donoghue, P., “Forward” to A History of Our Lady of Fernyhalgh and the Martyrs Third Edition by Anita A. Gladwin (Preston: T. Snape and Co. Ltd, 2015), p. i 

[iii] Ibid, p. 1

[iv] Ibid, p. 36

[v] Stirzaker, C., Treasured Memories (England: Colin Cross Colour Printers, 2006), p. 83

[vi] Ibid, p. 88

[vii] Campbell, M., Homily – Ladyewell Pilgrimage – 20th June 2015,

Homily Reflection – 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

24. June, 2015Church News, Ladyewell NewsComments Off


R1. Job 38:1.8-11//Ps 106:23-31(R1)

R2. 2Cor 5:14-17//Accl. Luke 7:16// Gosp. Mark 4:35-41


1.0     Introduction

Our world is threatened by the scandal of suffering and fear. The vast majority of our society suffers from the pangs of vicissitudes of life and many more are afraid to keep living. It is an evident fact that the price of living in our world today as people of faith winds through the valley of cruelty in multifaceted new ways. In the midst of this fearful suffering are numbered many who follow “The Way” – Christians. Many a Christian today is frightened by oppression and misery such that one is tempted to ask, “Is God asleep?” They do not see reasons why life should go on.

Trapped in this seemingly vicious circle of glaring whirlwind of confusion, doubt about the power of God in man’s existence holds sway.  The readings of today shout through the mouth of the Church to her suffering and fearful children. Running through the readings is the answer to this riddle of “scandal of suffering and fear” – Redemptive power of the omnipotent and Omni-benevolent God made manifest through Christ. 

2.0     God’s Faithfulness in our Unfaithfulness

The phenomenon of suffering amidst the beauties and opportunities in a world so beautiful cannot be comprehended. In the first reading, we hear God’s answer to Job’s squall of life. He reveals to him that “the purposes of the infinite God cannot be understood by the finite mind of man.”[i] The reading relates to us God speaking through the storm. The Responsorial Psalm clearly carries on this theme. This Psalm is one the Psalms of Lament, but with a communal character. As a Psalm of Lament, it lauds God’s omnipotence and steadfast love for his faithless Israel.[ii] Paul  in the second reading carries on this theme of the characteristic nature of God as Divine Master of all, Creator and Sustainer of creation; whose love empowers and urges us on (2Cor 5:14-17; cf. Col 1:17). The Gospel episode reconnects us back to the first reading, it crowns it all with Jesus’ act of mastery over the storm by the power of his word (Mark 4:34-45).

As at the time of Jesus and His Apostles (as much as many in our time view it), storm/whirlwind/great wind is considered evil force that needs a divine power to control. God as seen in the first reading calls Job to total trust in his power that transcends the storm by His word. Job has to learn that even when he cannot grasp the reason why the just should suffer; God’s power is made manifest in the midst of the confusions. Thus, God tells Job to look to his power and trust him, even if he does not understand. Job has to learn that “his Redeemer lives” (cf. Job 19:25). God has the power to direct his life to “stilled peace” through the storms in his life. God’s faithful love remains amidst our stubbornness of heart and weak response to this outpouring love (cf. Ps 106:24-31).

3.0     Have you invited Jesus the Master of the Storms of Life?   

Often I see Christians complain of the sufferings they encounter in life and tend to give up living. The readings of today point out clearly that we fail to grapple through these vicissitudes of life, because we have not yet invited the one who has power over everything that is. Paul holds firm that we who are in Christ are new creatures; and as such, we should throw overboard the old things we cling to and live a new life. He recounts the effects of Christ’s love as the source of his life. Love is fecund. This is manifested in Christ who by pouring out his blood has begotten us for God (cf. 1Cor 6:20). This should apply to us for whom God’s love has been demonstrated (cf. Rom 5:8). This love has been poured into our hearts.

In suffering, many tend to doubt the presence of God and of his love. In the Gospel, even when Jesus was still with his disciples, they experienced the storm and immediately ran to Jesus for deliverance. Sometimes, God allows us to experience suffering to confirm our faith in him; for gold bears testing by fire. God has not promised us a life free of suffering, but life triumphing through crosses lovingly borne for his sake, a life full of the power of his love that conquers in tribulation.

Have you invited Jesus into your life’s situation yet? Where do you anchor your faith when you are faced with tribulation? Whom do you run to in your “low moments”? In our pains and difficulties, we forget him who has told us to come to him, we who are over burdened and he will give rest to our souls (cf. Mt 11:28). The Psalmist in today’s Psalm invites us to praise God in the midst of the tribulations of life (cf.106:47). Little wonder, then, Paul and Silas in their prison chains arose to praise God and when they did, the power of God manifested (cf. Acts 16:25-34).

The disciples in today’s Gospel realised that a new Jonah was with them in the boat as they sailed. How could Jesus be so comfortable amidst the tempest that was raging? Why would he be sleeping in this seemingly approaching danger? When they turned to him, Jesus spoke the storm to stillness, but did not fail to rebuke them for their lack of faith. How often Jesus speaks to our hearts, “Be still and know that I am God” (cf. Ps 46:10). How often does he quieten us to trust saying, “why are you afraid?” (cf. Mark 4:40), “do not be afraid” (cf. Mt 14:27); and how often do we fail to quieten the raging wind of lack of faith and fear in us?

4.0     Implications

Many of us have remained stagnant in faith. Fear rather than faith has become the bane holding sway in the life of many, and some have grown stunted in faith. Going to Church on a Sunday or attending any “liturgico-spiritual” exercise has become a mere social fulfilment devoid of faith. Our encounter with Christ at every liturgical celebration should renew in us the power of Christ speaking peace to our life situations. Pope Francis in his new encyclical writes, Our participation in the Eucharist has special importance. Sunday, like the Jewish Sabbath, is meant to be a day which heals our relationships with God, with ourselves, with others and with the world.”[iii]Relapsing into what I call “bed of faith asleep”, they remain blind to the presence and love of Him whose power is limitless at the face of temptations, sorrows, and even death. The disciples turned to Jesus and knew his power; and exclaimed, “Who is this man? Even the wind obeys him.” (Mark 4:45). Who is Jesus to you in your moment of sadness, temptation, death of a loved one and failed expectations?

Therefore, it is an invitation today to stop worrying about our troubles. It is a call to start pray sailing our way through the storms of life by inviting him who has authority over them. God calls us to realise that His power is made manifest in our weakness (cf. 2Cor 12:9). Little wonder, then, St. Francis of Assisi prayed, “Lord, grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” It is only when we have invited the storm Master into our company than we shall have learned to live in peace. “The strange thing about Jesus is that you can never get away from him.”[iv] The appearance of Jesus as being asleep in the boat reveals the fact of our faith being asleep. The disciples rose to wake Jesus from sleep. Let us rise from our bed of “faith asleep” and call on Jesus to rule over the storms of our lives. Have you arisen to wake your faith through prayer and praise inviting Jesus into your life?

5.0     Prayer

May God grant us the courage necessary to invite him into the confusions and sufferings of our lives so that like Paul, we may live through the power of Christ’s love that urges us on. May the good Lord bless His words in our hearts. Peace be with you!         

[i] Oursler, F., The Greatest Book Ever Written (Surrey: The World’s Work Ltd, 1913), p. 361

[ii] Kselman, J. S. and Barré, M. L, “Psalms” in The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, Student Edition (London: Geoffery Chapman, 1997), p. 554

[iii] Pope Francis, Laudato Si, no. 237

[iv] Link, M., Mission 2000, Cycle B (New Delhi: St. Pauls, 2010), p. 245

Homily Reflection – Corpus Christi

14. June, 2015Church News, Ladyewell NewsComments Off

R1. Exodus 24:3-8//Ps 116:12-13.15 and 16bc.17-18 (R13)

R2. Hebrews 9:11-15//Accl. John 6:51// Gosp. Mark 14:12-16.22-26



Last Sunday, the Church availed us the privilege of celebrating the unity in the Trinity – the Godhead. This wise mother, the Church thought it wise that her children as the children of the Trinity should celebrate the Source of and unity of the Body whose Head is Christ. This celebration is called Body of the Lord or Body of Christ. Havingcelebrated the unity of the Head in the Godhead, the Church desires that we as well celebrate our unity in the body of the Head, Christ. On Holy Thursday, we celebrated the institution of the Body and Blood of Christ (hence Eucharist) which was marked by the activities of both celebrating the establishment of the priesthood and the duty of the priest – sacrifice and service manifested in Christ’s act of washing the disciples’ feet. This was celebrated close to the Passion of Christ as a sign of the real sacrifice to be offered by Christ at the altar of the Cross at Calvary.

In today’s feast, we celebrate the Priesthood and Sacrifice of Christ to perpetuate the command of Christ to his disciples: “do this in memory of me (cf. Luke 22:19). This celebration points out the profundity and magnitude of the Eucharist both in the life of the Church and that of her members. The Church celebrates this feast to perpetuate as well the promise of Christ to remain with us “to the end of time” (cf. Mt 28:20). Thus, for anyone to suppose that this feast is mere accomplishment of the ritual of the Last Super will indeed be an attempt to empty the Eucharist of its significance and enormity as regards its root – the Christ-event – which is the summit of every form of sacrifice that fulfilled the Old Covenant sacrifice (cf. Ex 24:3-8; Heb 9:12; 10:4). We celebrate today the “love-feast” or sacrifice of love that reconciled and united us to the Triune God and wrought life for all.



Knowledge about the origin of an event leads to a better appreciation of such event. If many had had some knowledge of the feasts we celebrate in the Church, many would have better appreciated them for whom they are celebrated. It is in this light that I wish to bring in a little of the background of the feast we celebrate today.

Prior to Jesus’ ascension, he promised his disciples his ever-abiding presence: “I am with you till the end of time” (Mt 28:20), giving credence to his name in Isaiah’s prophecy – Emmanuel – God-with-us (cf. Is 7:15; Mt 1:23). This promise, as it were, serves as a reminder to the command given already at the institution of the Eucharist in which the disciples were commanded to keep a perpetual memorial of the Lord’s Supper (cf. Luke 22:19). In the institution of the Eucharist, Jesus’ perpetual presence is implied by the words: “in remembrance of me.” How else could he be with us ‘till the end of time’ if not in the signs which represent what they symbolize – the sacrifice of the Eucharist which represents Jesus’ one sacrifice on the altar of the Cross?

The command of Jesus to his disciples and his burning desire for the perpetual memorial of him considered above was revealed in our time by Christ through a Belgian nun in the 13th century. The feast of Corpus Christi came into existence in the Church’s liturgical celebrations not with the petition of St. Juliana of Liège in Belgium to her Bishop, Robert de Thorete in 1246 in which she persisted for approximately 40 years.[i] In 1551, the Council of Trent defined and proclaimed the doctrine of the “Real and substantial presence” of Christ in the Eucharist, otherwise Transubstantiation.[ii] Pope Urban IV was the first to promulgate this feast extending its celebration to the whole of Latin Rite. However, because of his death, this promulgation did not receive implementation. In 1317, John XXII in a collection of the law known as Clementines inserted it in the general calendar, and this gave rise to its celebration universally.[iii]

With the growing awareness of this feast through which we pay reverence to Christ in the Eucharist, around 1274 up until 1279 Eucharistic Procession was introduced as part of its celebration in Cologne. This continued until years prior to Vatican II Council when other structures, which allowed the faithful to pay homage to the Eucharistic Lord other than processions, were introduced. It was from the era of Vatican II Council that this feast was given the title Feastof the Body and Bloodof Christ. With this name change, the emphasis was no longer on the reserved Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle, but on the Eucharistic celebration.[iv] As it were, it was meant to be celebrated on a Thursday after the Trinity Sunday in areas where it is considered a holyday of obligation but on a Sunday after Trinity Sunday in regions where it is not considered such.


In his homily on the feast of Corpus Christi in June 1995, St. John Paul II exclaimed, “Pange Lingua! Human tongues must sing the mystery of the Eucharist! They must sing it not only as mysterium passionis, but also as mysterium gloriae.”[v] This is the tone of today’s feast. In the readings of today, we see the link between the Eucharist and the Covenant meal of Exodus (cf. Ex 24:9-11). In the first reading, Moses ministers in this covenant sacrifice and meal sealed by the blood of the animal. In the gospel, Mark links the Last Supper of the Lord to the Old Covenant sacrifice and meal. Harrington explains that the upshot of this connection by Mark was to draw the death of Jesus closely to the Passover themes of “sacrifice and liberation.”[vi] From this, one can assert that Jesus instituted the Eucharist as a sacrifice calling to mind his Passion as well as his Glorification and the glorification of his body, the Church through its memorial. Note that in the action of Christ in this gospel episode that he is both the Priest (who offers to the eternal father the sacrifice of his Body and Blood that seals this New Covenant) and the Lamb-victim offered. Today’s celebration, therefore, calls to mind not only the Lord’s table with his Apostles, but also Christ’s priesthood (cf. Heb 4:14-16; 8:1-3). Corpus Christi, as it is, and indeed every Eucharistic celebration is a re-enactment of the one sacrifice of Christ on the altar of the Cross for the forgiveness of sins and the salvation of all. Indeed, this “Blood pleads more insistently than the blood of Abel” (cf. Heb 12:24). Thus, “Christ’s sacrifice, as the Eucharist, becomes a banquet – the banquet of the Lamb”[vii] – a Covenant Banquet.


Down through the ages, the Church continues to affirm the nobility of the Eucharist. The Church in the bid to perpetuate the command of Christ to always celebrate the Eucharist in his memory continues in every generation to anchor her faith in and around the Eucharist. Thus, the Eucharist has become the life and fulcrum of unity for and union of her children with the eternal Father through the eternally begotten Son in the Holy Spirit. She sees “in this bread the body of Christ which hung on the Cross and in [the Chalice] the blood which flowed from his side.”[viii] The Eucharist, then, is the centre of the life of the Church.[ix] Reflecting on this, St. John Paul II affirmed, “The Eucharist is the centre and summit of the whole of sacramental life.”[x]

In the gospel of John, Jesus already gave credence to this fact – the Eucharist – his Body and Blood as the life, union and unity of the partakers (cf. John 6:56). It is to be noted here that when God abides in a soul, that soul is saved and liberated. In this way, the Eucharist is the sacrament of redemption. Little wonder, then, St. John Paul II wrote that “the Eucharist is the sacrament in which our new being is most completely expressed and in which Christ himself unceasingly and in an ever new manner ‘bears witness in the Holy Spirit to our spirit that each of us, as a sharer in the mystery of the redemption, has access to God.”[xi] One observes that Christ through love has willed that his people should be united to him through continually renewing the mystery of this one sacrifice. The Eucharist is in truth “the ineffable sacrament.”[xii] In this sacrament, “God offers his love for all.”[xiii] To put it better, St. Bonaventure (as quoted by Proctor) says, “Love stoops down to humanity, gathers it up and raises it to dignity.”[xiv] When Jesus gave himself as bread and wine, he gave “himself in view of the healing of this wounded world, reconnecting creation [us] to the Creator [God].[xv] As such, taking part in the Eucharist – doing this in memory of him – is not merely breaking bread and drinking his wine; it means sharing “his life and his mission.”[xvi] Having said this, what is the implication of today’s feast for us?


As earlier mentioned, “celebrating the Eucharist is the true centre of the whole Christian life.”[xvii] It is the focal point of union of the Church, the Body of Christ with Christ her head.[xviii] Christ did say that his Body and Blood is the real food which gives life (cf. John 6:54-60). The implication of this is that eating his Body and Blood worthily (cf. 1Cor 11:27-28), we abide in him and he in us. Proctor puts it beautifully, “As we take Christ to ourselves, so we are taken into him. As Christ becomes part of us, so we become inseparable in him. As we consume, so we are consumed.”[xix] If we are to grow closer to Christ, if our incorporation into his Body must remain intact, we should on daily basis receive the Eucharist. If we are to have real life in us, we are bound to receive the Eucharist in a manner worthy of the one we receive. We should not only receive, but as well adore that which we receive. For St. Augustine did say, “No one eats this flesh without first adoring it.”[xx] The Eucharist is to the soul what physical food is to the body. Just as the traveller loses strength for the journey through starvation and hunger, so we who are pilgrims journeying to our eternal home will continue to lose strength if we starve of the Body and Blood of Christ. St. Teresa of Avila says, “The Eucharist is food for our body as well as remedy for maladies.”[xxi] The singular aim of Christ in abiding with us “is to aid, to incite, to strengthen us to do the will of God.”[xxii] This means that if we lag in the worthy reception of the Eucharist, we will lack in vitality and strength to accomplish God’s will. It is from this that “the essential commitment and, above all, the visible grace and source of supernatural strength”[xxiii] flow to our souls.

The challenge of today’s feast is for the Christian to examine his/her attitude towards the Eucharist, and further living of the Eucharist. Does my life reflect Life – Christ – to those around me? What stops me from approaching and adoring the Lord in the august sacrament of his real and substantial presence? Does my union with Christ through receiving this sacrament help boost my union and unity of others?

 May God by his grace in the Eucharist help us to be truly Eucharistic People. May the good Lord bless his word in our hearts. Peace be with you.








[i] Beaumont, M and Misrahi, M (trans), Days of the Lord, vol. 7(Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 1994), 38; Corpus Christi in, accessed 6th June 2015

[ii] Dupius, J., “Council of Trent” The Christian Faith, 6th Edition (Bangalore: Theological Publications, 199), 577 

[iii] Beaumont, M and Misrahi, M (trans), Days of the Lord, vol. 7(Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 1994), 39

[iv] Ibid, 40

[v]Redemptor Hominis, 20 (The Pope Teaches #7, CTS Publications, London, 1995)

[vi] Harrington, D. J, “Mark” The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, Student Edition (London: Geoffery Chapman, 1997), 625

[vii]Redemptor Hominis, 20 (The Pope Teaches #7, CTS Publications, London, 1995)

[viii] Thomas Aquinas in Office of the Readings on Corpus Christi Sunday

[ix] Cf. CCC #1343

[x]Redemptor Hominis, 20 (The Pope Teaches #7, CTS Publications, London, 1995)

[xi] Ibid

[xii] Ibid

[xiii] Proctor, J., We are Eucharist (Ireland: St. Pauls, 1995), 84

[xiv] Ibid, 85

[xv] Donders, J. G., day by day Scripture Reflections (Connecticut: Twenty-Third Publications, 1992), 32

[xvi] Ibid

[xvii] S.C. 6

[xviii] S.C. 7

[xix]Proctor, J., We are Eucharist (Ireland: St. Pauls, 1995), 85; John 6:56-57

[xx] Beaumont, M and Misrahi, M (trans), Days of the Lord, vol. 7(Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 1994), 38

[xxi] St. Teresa of Avila The Way of Perfection {Translators: Benedictines of Sanbrook} (New York: Cosimo Incorporated, 2000), 207

[xxii] Ibid, 202-3

[xxiii]Redemptor Hominis 20



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