The Bread of Angels Made the Food of Pilgrims, Corpus Christi, May 29, 2016

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Church of Sant’Apollinare, Rome
Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord
May 29, 2016
Gen 14:18-20, Ps 110, 1 Cor 1:11-23-26, Lk 9:11-17


To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 


The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • We begin our pilgrimage with feast of Corpus Christi.
    • Source and Summit, fons et culmen, beginning and the end.
    • In Sequence, “Ecce Panis Angelorum factus cibus viatorum, vere panis filiorum!
  • History of Corpus Christi has to do with a pilgrimage to Rome.
    • Peter of Prague. 1263. Doubts about the Eucharist. Doubts about the meaning of what St. Paul in today’s second reading and Matthew, Mark and Luke wrote about in their Gospels, that when Jesus said, “This is my body that is for you” and “this cup is the new covenant in my blood,” what starts out as bread and wine totally changes into Jesus.
    • Prayed before the tomb of his patron, who had responded to Jesus’ questions about the Eucharist, “To whom shall we go?” St. Thomas: “I believe whatever the Son of God has said. Nothing is truer than the Word of Truth.”
    • It seems his prayer wasn’t heard. Left returning in a Caravan. Celebrating Mass at the Church of St. Christina in Bolsena and during the fraction the host began to bleed. Pope Urban IV confirmed. Asked St. Thomas Aquinas to write the office. Inaugurated the Feast of Corpus Christi the next year. The Church has been celebrating it now for 752 years.
    • Don’t have to accept the miracle, despite papal investigation, the extraordinary Church, the presence of the blood stained corporal.
    • But we do as Catholics have to accept the truth of the Eucharist and take it seriously. We believe that the Eucharist is Jesus Christ — his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in other words, Christ in his total reality, save glorified appearance.
    • This leads us to want to cry out with St. Thomas Aquinas in one of the hymns he wrote for this feast seven and a half centuries ago: “O res mirabilis! Manducat Dominum pauper et servus humilis.”
    • St. John Vianney. We would have never dared to ask for such a grace, but God gave what we never would have asked.
    • That leads us to say, “Quantum potes, tantum aude: quia maior omni laude nec laudare sufficis!” We do all we can to praise.
    • Miracle of love. God wants to feed us. He wants to accompany us. He wants to change us from the inside. Greater than all the saints who ever lived combined wanted to receive him, he wants to give himself to us. And he becomes so humble to do it.
  • On our part, we should respond to his help to do all we can to conform.
    • Ecclesia de eucaristia vivit! We’re called to live off of the Eucharist, to draw our life from Jesus as the “source and the summit” of our life.
    • To make the choices consistent with this reality.
    • Experience of tickets to see Pope Francis for his UN visit. But I said to them, Pope Francis’ boss is right across the street. Do we act on this reality or take it for granted?
    • Martyrs of Abitene. Sine Dominico non possumus?
    • But is weekly enough? Story of how I became a daily communicant.
    • Conform our life, bringing it into holy communion.
      • Justin Martyr, feast this Wednesday. Enter into and maintain doctrinal, sacramental and moral communion: “No one is allowed to partake [in the Eucharist] except one who believes that the things we teach are true, who has received the washing for the forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us.”
      • This teaching is hard. But it allows us to get to what faith is. And this helps us with other hard teachings.
      • So many converts have become Catholic because of the Eucharist.
      • Lives as Christ handed down to us. Loving as he loves. Cutting out of our life whatever leads us to sin. Importance of confession. Jesus offers his body and blood “for the remission of sins,” and we’re not receiving worthily if we’re retaining our sins. Importance of conversion, confession, for communion. This connection can be seen more clearly in this Year of Mercy.
    • And we should also help others to conform. If we believe this is God, the medicine of immortality, then how can we keep this gift to ourselves? In today’s Gospel, in the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish that foreshadowed the way Jesus wants to feed us with his Body and Blood, Jesus said to the apostles, “Give them some food yourselves.” They began with their very meager offerings, received from a boy with five loaves and two fish, but then gave them the food Christ himself had miraculously multiplied. So with regard to the Eucharist, Jesus wants us to give him what we have — whatever he has given us first, the fruit of the earth and vine and the work of human hands — so that he can multiply it and we can in turn bring him to feed the world’s spiritual hungers.
  • Pilgrimage
    • Ecce Panis Angelorum factus cibus viatorum, vere panis filiorum!
    • The most important part of our pilgrimage, the real highlight, ought to be the celebration each day of the Holy Eucharist. More than the beautiful Churches, great art work, important people, each day we have a chance to meet God incarnate who seeks to make us his temple and adorn us with his grace.
    • And this is meant to lead us to the eternal banquet. Jesus gives himself to us with the promise that whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood will live forever. This is more than a magical act of digestion because, as St. Paul says, “anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself” and “will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord,” in other words for his death, which was a result of sin. St. Thomas says in the Sequence that the Bread of Life becomes the bread of death for those who receive Jesus unworthily. So it’s not a magical act. But when we receive the Lord seeking to unite our whole life to his, when we allow his life to grow, then we’ll never lose that life, and this pilgrimage in Rome, and the cibus viatorum we receive, will lead us to the fulfillment of the pilgrimage of life, as we will adore the panis angelorum.
  • Regardless of whether we’ve come with burning faith that impacts our heads, hearts or knees, or like Fr. Peter of Prague, have come with questions and doubts, the Lord wants to help us to leave changed, to leave with greater faith in his daily accompaniment, in his daily gift of himself as food for our journey on pilgrimage through life toward his eternal right side. St. Thomas finishes his hymn for this feast popularly known by the first words of the fifth verse, “Panis Angelicus,” with words that will guide our steps during this week and beyond, not just in leading us to the altar but from the altar on a Corpus Christi procession in the world: “Per tuas semitas, duc nos quo tendimus, ad lucem quam inhabitas!” “Through our following your footsteps, leads us to that light toward which we’re heading, that light where you dwell!” This pilgrimage is a journey, starting from the Eucharist, more and more into the sacramental, doctrinal and moral light of Christ, the light that draws us toward the unending light of sacrum convivium, the sacred banquet, of heaven.


The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 GN 14:18-20

In those days, Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine,
and being a priest of God Most High,
he blessed Abram with these words:
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
the creator of heaven and earth;
and blessed be God Most High,
who delivered your foes into your hand.”
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

Responsorial Psalm PS 110:1, 2, 3, 4

R. (4b) You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand
till I make your enemies your footstool.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The scepter of your power the LORD will stretch forth from Zion:
“Rule in the midst of your enemies.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
“Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor;
before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD has sworn, and he will not repent:
“You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

Reading 2 1 COR 11:23-26

Brothers and sisters:
I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over,
took bread, and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

Sequence – Lauda Sion

Laud, O Zion, your salvation,
Laud with hymns of exultation,
Christ, your king and shepherd true:

Bring him all the praise you know,
He is more than you bestow.
Never can you reach his due.

Special theme for glad thanksgiving
Is the quick’ning and the living
Bread today before you set:

From his hands of old partaken,
As we know, by faith unshaken,
Where the Twelve at supper met.

Full and clear ring out your chanting,
Joy nor sweetest grace be wanting,
From your heart let praises burst:

For today the feast is holden,
When the institution olden
Of that supper was rehearsed.

Here the new law’s new oblation,
By the new king’s revelation,
Ends the form of ancient rite:

Now the new the old effaces,
Truth away the shadow chases,
Light dispels the gloom of night.

What he did at supper seated,
Christ ordained to be repeated,
His memorial ne’er to cease:

And his rule for guidance taking,
Bread and wine we hallow, making
Thus our sacrifice of peace.

This the truth each Christian learns,
Bread into his flesh he turns,
To his precious blood the wine:

Sight has fail’d, nor thought conceives,
But a dauntless faith believes,
Resting on a pow’r divine.

Here beneath these signs are hidden
Priceless things to sense forbidden;
Signs, not things are all we see:

Blood is poured and flesh is broken,
Yet in either wondrous token
Christ entire we know to be.

Whoso of this food partakes,
Does not rend the Lord nor breaks;
Christ is whole to all that taste:

Thousands are, as one, receivers,
One, as thousands of believers,
Eats of him who cannot waste.

Bad and good the feast are sharing,
Of what divers dooms preparing,
Endless death, or endless life.

Life to these, to those damnation,
See how like participation
Is with unlike issues rife.

When the sacrament is broken,
Doubt not, but believe ‘tis spoken,
That each sever’d outward token
doth the very whole contain.

Nought the precious gift divides,
Breaking but the sign betides
Jesus still the same abides,
still unbroken does remain.

Lo! the angel’s food is given
To the pilgrim who has striven;
see the children’s bread from heaven,
which on dogs may not be spent.

Truth the ancient types fulfilling,
Isaac bound, a victim willing,
Paschal lamb, its lifeblood spilling,
manna to the fathers sent.

Very bread, good shepherd, tend us,
Jesu, of your love befriend us,
You refresh us, you defend us,
Your eternal goodness send us
In the land of life to see.

You who all things can and know,
Who on earth such food bestow,
Grant us with your saints, though lowest,
Where the heav’nly feast you show,
Fellow heirs and guests to be. Amen. Alleluia.

Alleluia JN 6:51

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the living bread come down from heaven, says the Lord;
whoever eats this bread will live forever.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 9:11B-17

Jesus spoke to the crowds about the kingdom of God,
and he healed those who needed to be cured.
As the day was drawing to a close,
the Twelve approached him and said,
“Dismiss the crowd
so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms
and find lodging and provisions;
for we are in a deserted place here.”
He said to them, “Give them some food yourselves.”
They replied, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have,
unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people.”
Now the men there numbered about five thousand.
Then he said to his disciples,
“Have them sit down in groups of about fifty.”
They did so and made them all sit down.
Then taking the five loaves and the two fish,
and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing over them, broke them,
and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.
They all ate and were satisfied.
And when the leftover fragments were picked up,
they filled twelve wicker baskets.

bolsena miracle_of_bolsena_fresco460