“I went with the throng
and led them in procession to the house of God,
Amid loud cries of joy and thanksgiving,
with the multitude keeping festival.”
Just last week we celebrated Holy Thursday, the day commemorating Christ’s Last Supper with His disciples. On this day, Jesus asked the Twelve to find an inn to celebrate the Passover, the most important Jewish festivity of the year. At the Supper, Jesus said, “With desire I have desired to eat this pasch with you, before I suffer” (Luke 22:15). While at Supper, Jesus took the bread, gave thanks, broke the bread and said, “This is my body, which is given for you”, and after the meal He took the chalice, gave thanks again and said, “This is the chalice, the new testament of my blood, which will be shed for you” and He said, “Do this in commemoration of me.” Many Protestant communities interpretation this as meaning they are merely symbolic of Jesus’ Body and Blood, but this is the 16th century doctrine of Ulrich Zwingli. As stated earlier, early Christians already had a clear belief in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
So, why should we venerate the Body of Christ?
If what we receive in Holy Communion is the Body of Christ, then it deserves our adoration for it is the very Flesh of Christ and thus what we adore is Him Himself. In the Middle Ages, devotion to the Body of Christ developed and it is commonly practiced in many churches today. In ancient days, early Christians worshipped Christ in the Eucharist by passing around a fragment called the fermentarium and eventually was consumed, likely by a bishop. Today, all or almost all churches have a monstrance, a golden vessel which contains the consecrated Host of Christ, on the altar for exposition so that Catholics may pray in its presence and in the presence of Our Lord.