Curated Homily starter anecdotes and illustrations with videos from Fr. Tony Kadavil relating to Sunday’s readings; Fr. Tony’s homily summaries and exegesis
Preaching Anecdotes and Commentary for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi
Corpus Christi Processions
Corpus Christi Procession (1941)
For centuries after the celebration was extended to the universal Church, the feast was also celebrated with a Eucharistic procession, in which the Sacred Host was carried throughout the town, accompanied by hymns and litanies. The faithful would venerate the Body of Christ as the procession passed by. In recent years, this practice has almost disappeared, though some parishes still hold a brief procession around the outside of the parish church.
Corpus Christi Procession in Manhattan, 2017
The Time After Communion
A priest I heard of, if he sees people leave early, stops them and reminds them that only one person left the Last Supper early! Well, I am not going to do that, but I am tempted to do what St. Philip Neri did.He saw someone leaving church right after Communion and he sent servers with candles and bells to accompany the man.
The guy stormed back into the Church and confronted the priest. “What kind of joke is this?” he demanded.
St. Philip Neri said, “It’s no joke. The rules of the liturgy say the Blessed Sacrament should be treated with reverence. You left the Church immediately with no prayer of thanksgiving. You were carrying the Blessed Sacrament within you. So I asked the boys to accompany you to honor Him.”
After Communion you and I are tabernacles – the physical presence of Jesus continues in us for a brief time. That’s why we have the Communion hymn, a time of silence, the Communion Prayer — and even the announcements, to build up the Body of Christ in practical ways. I encourage you to use well the time after Communion to say thanks, to express your gratitude. (Fr. Phil Bloom)
St. Padre Pio’s Prayer of Thanksgiving After Mass
- “Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You. You know how easily I abandon You.
- Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak and I need Your strength, that I may not fall so often.
- Stay with me, Lord, for You are my life, and without You, I am without fervor.
- Stay with me, Lord, for You are my light, and without You, I am in darkness.
- Stay with me, Lord, to show me Your will.
- Stay with me, Lord, so that I hear Your voice and follow You.
- Stay with me, Lord, for I desire to love You very much, and always be in Your company.
- Stay with me, Lord, if You wish me to be faithful to You.
- Stay with me, Lord, for as poor as my soul is, I want it to be a place of consolation for You, a nest of love.
- Stay with me, Jesus, for it is getting late and the day is coming to a close, and life passes; death, judgment, eternity approach. It is necessary to renew my strength.
The Mass is Heaven on earth!
RELATED VIDEO: On Holy Eucharist by Scott Hahn (25:54)
Scott Hahn was a Protestant minister, who had for twenty years studied the Book of Revelation. He admits that, in trying to study Revelation, he felt like a person standing before a locked door, searching for the right key on a keychain. There was no key that fitted, until he linked the Book of Revelation to the Mass. And that, in his opinion, is the right key. His experience thereafter was so inspiring that a year later, he asked to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church. This in a nutshell, is his thesis:
The key to understanding the Book of Revelation is the Mass. Stated differently; the Mass is the only way a Christian can truly make sense of the Book of Revelation.
Today, Dr. Scott Hahn, a happily married man and father of six children, is a Professor of Theology and Scripture in a University and the Director of the Institute of Applied Biblical Studies.
Scott Hahn is candid and realistic when he observes that, for most Catholics, the Sunday Mass is anything but Heavenly. In fact, he frankly adds, it’s often an uncomfortable hour, punctuated by babies screaming, bland hymns sung off-key, meandering and pointless homilies, and people dressed as if they were going to a party, picnic or football game. Yet, this is his conviction:
“When we go to Mass every Sunday, we go to Heaven. And this is true of every Mass we attend, regardless of the quality of the music or the fervour of the preacher. The Mass —and I mean every single Mass—is Heaven on earth.”
James Valladares in Your Words are Spirit, and They Are Life; quoted by Fr. Botelho.
Holy Communion on Tongue
For those who want to hear: “The Holy Father [POPE BENEDICT XVI IN 2011] is giving a very clear lesson by his own insistence that the faithful receive Communion kneeling and on the Tongue. He’s teaching us something. This is a decision which he obviously made with much thought and for good reasons, and so to me it’s the case to Teach the faithful once Again about DUE REVERENCE ON RECEIVING HOLY COMMUNION and to Encourage them to consider a return to that traditional form of Communion KNEELING and Receiving Holy Communion on the TONGUE.” -Cardinal Burke
Pope Benedict’s preference for receiving Holy Communion on tongue —
“I am not opposed in principle to Communion in the hand; I have both administered and received Communion in this way myself. The idea behind my current practice of having people kneel to receive Communion on the tongue was to send a signal and to underscore the Real Presence with an exclamation point. One important reason is that there is a great danger of superficiality precisely in the kinds of Mass events we hold at Saint Peter’s, both in the Basilica and in the Square. I have heard of people who, after receiving Communion, stick the Host in their wallet to take home as a kind of souvenir. In this context, where people think that everyone is just automatically supposed to receive Communion — everyone else is going up, so I will, too—I wanted to send a clear signal. I wanted it to be clear: Something quite special is going on here! He is here, the One before whom we fall on our knees! Pay attention! This is not just some social ritual in which we can take part if we want to.”
How can God be present in a tiny host?
Some time ago, a street-corner preacher who knew how to make religious truths come to life was faced by a hostile crowd. “How,” one of them demanded, “is it possible for bread and wine to become the Body and Blood of Christ?”
The preacher looked calmly at the stout questioner for a moment and answered, “You have grown somewhat since you were a child and have more flesh and blood than you had then. Surely, if a human body can change food and drink into flesh and blood, God can do it too.”
“But how,” countered the heckler, “is it possible for Christ to be present in his entirety in a small host?”
The preacher glanced up at the sky and down at the street before them and answered, “This city scene and the sky above it is something immense, while your eye is very small. Yet your eye in itself contains the whole picture. When you consider this, it won’t seem impossible for Christ to be present in his entirety in a little piece of bread.”
Once more the heckler attacked. “How, then, is it possible for the same Body of Christ to be present in all your churches at the same time?”
The preacher’s answer: “In a large mirror you see your image reflected but once. When you break the mirror into a thousand pieces, you see the same image of yourself in each of the hundred fragments. If such things occur in everyday life, why should it be impossible for the body of Christ to be present in many places at once? Just tell me, what isn’t possible for God?
Harold Buetow in God Still Speaks: Listen! quoted by Fr. Botelho.
The greatest work of art in St. Peter’s Basilica
One of the seminarians who gives tours of St. Peter’s told me of an interesting incident. He was leading a group of Japanese tourists who knew absolutely nothing of our Faith. With particular care he explained the great masterpieces of art, sculpture and architecture. He finally concluded at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel trying his best to explain quickly what it was.
As the group dispersed, an elderly man, who had been particularly attentive stayed behind, and said, “Pardon me. Would you explain again this ‘Blessed Sacrament?’”
Our student did, after which the man exclaimed, “Ah, if this is so, what is in this chapel is a greater work of art than anything else in this basilica.”’
Timothy M Dolan in Priests of the Third Millennium, (2000), p. 226.
Today’s feast of Corpus Christi is intended to make us value and appreciate the worth of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.
“All we really need in our convent is the Tabernacle.”
The former archbishop of San Francisco, John Quinn, loves to tell the story of the arrival of Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity to open their house in the city. Poor Archbishop Quinn had gone to great efforts to make sure that their convent was, while hardly opulent, quite comfortable.
He recalls how Mother Teresa arrived and immediately ordered the carpets removed, the telephones, except for one, pulled out of the wall, the beds, except for the mattresses taken away, and on and on. Explained Mother Teresa to the baffled archbishop, “All we really need in our convent is the tabernacle”
Timothy M. Dolan in Priests of the Third Millennium (2000), p. 218.
The Eucharistic piety that converted St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
In one minute learn about St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
Two hundred years ago, a beautiful, young, Episcopalian woman accompanied her husband, a merchant, to Italy, leaving four of their five children at home with family members. They had sailed for Italy, hoping that the change in climate might help her husband, whose failing business had eventually affected his health adversely. Tragically, he died in Liverno. The grieving young widow was warmly received by an Italian family, business acquaintances of her deceased husband. She stayed with them for three months before she could arrange to return to America.
The young widow was very impressed by the Catholic faith of her host family, especially their devotion to the Holy Eucharist: their frequent attendance at Mass, the reverence with which they received Holy Communion, the awe they showed toward the Blessed Sacrament on feast days when the Eucharist was carried in procession. She found her broken heart healed by a hunger for this mysterious presence of the Lord, and, upon returning home, requested instruction in Catholic Faith. Soon after being received into the Church, she described her first reception of the Lord in the Eucharist as the happiest moment of her life.
It was in St. Peter’s Square on September 14, 1975, that Pope Paul VI canonized this woman, Elizabeth Ann Seton, as the first native-born saint of the Unites States. The Eucharist for her was a sign and cause of union with God and the Church.
Mother Teresa’s words to Albanian Dictator Enver Hoxha
It was once forbidden to say Mother Teresa’s name in Albania
Mother Teresa was given a reception by the cruel Communist dictator Enver Hoxha who ruled Albania for 40 years from 1945 to 1985. He imposed atheism as the official religion in 1967. The possession of a Bible or cross often meant a ten-year prison term.
Welcoming Mother Teresa in 1985, he stated that he appreciated her world-wide works of charity, and then added, “But I will not permit Christ to return to Albania as long as I am in charge.”
In her reply after thanking the president for the reception Mother said, “Mr. President, you are wrong. I have brought not only the love of Christ into my native land but also the real presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist right into your presidential palace. I am allowed to carry Jesus in a pyx during my visit of this Communist country where public worship is a crime. I keep Jesus in the consecrated host in my pocket. Jesus will surely return to this country very soon.”
Communist rule collapsed in Albania in 1992, and Christians and Muslims reopened their churches and mosques for worship. The non-Communist president of Albania, Mr. Ramiz Alia, awarded Albanian citizenship to Mother Teresa during her visit to her liberated home country in 1992. Mr. Alia also created a “Mother Teresa Prize” to be awarded to those who distinguished themselves in the field of humanitarian and charitable work.
“Jesus Christ gave a lasting memorial”
One of his Catholic disciples asked the controversial god-man Osho Rajneesh about the difference between Buddha the founder of Buddhism and Jesus Christ. Rajneesh told a story to distinguish between Buddha and Christ.
When Buddha was on his deathbed, his disciple Anand asked him for a memorial and Buddha gave him a Jasmine flower. But as the flower dried up, the memory of Buddha also dwindled. Jesus Christ, however, instituted a lasting memorial without anybody’s asking for it, by offering to God his Body and Blood under the appearances of bread and wine and commanding his disciples to share his Divinity by repeating the offering. So Jesus continues to live in his followers while Buddha lives only in history books.
On this feast, as on Holy Thursday, we reflect on the importance of the institution of the Holy Eucharist and priesthood.
The Blessing Cup
Leonardo da Vinci was 43 years old when the Duke of Milan asked him to paint the Last Supper. He worked on it slowly and with meticulous attention to detail. He spent much time making the cup that Jesus held as beautiful as possible. After three years he was ready to show it. He called a friend to come and see it.
He said, “Look at it and give me your opinion.”
The friend said, “It is wonderful. The cup is so real I cannot take my eyes of it!”
Immediately, Leonardo took a brush and drew it across the sparkling cup.
He exclaimed as he did so: “Nothing shall detract from the figure of Christ!” Christ must be the primary focus of a Christian’s life.
John Rose in John’s Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho
“Are you guys Dominicans?”
There is a story about an American paratrooper in World War II who got entangled in a tree and couldn’t get down. He was terribly afraid that he had come down behind enemy lines and would be killed.
Then two men dressed in civilian clothes came by so the GI quickly called out, “Can you tell me where I am?” “Indeed we can,” said one – “You are up in a tree.” T
here was a long pause, and then the paratrooper asked suspiciously, “Are you guys Dominicans?” “
Yes, but how could you tell?”
The GI replied, “I knew because what you say is perfectly true – but it doesn’t help me to get out of this tree!”
Likewise, to describe Catholic belief about the Holy Eucharist by saying that it is the Body and Blood of Christ is true, but not very helpful unless we are convinced of this truth, appreciate this great gift and experience it in our lives.
A Missionary Gets Muddy
The Eucharist is one of the great proofs of God’s trustworthiness – Christ faithfully present through the ups and downs of twenty centuries. A true story about a missionary illustrates this well.
Fr. Meehus was working in a small village in rural China during the Sino-Japanese war. As Japanese soldiers neared the village, the priest led his congregation of orphans into hiding in the nearby hills. Safe in a cave, he counted eighty children – everyone was there. Then one of the boys spoke up, “Father, someone is missing.” They counted again – still 80. But the boy insisted. The priest asked, “Who is it, who’s missing?” The boy answered, ” We left Jesus in the Tabernacle.” Father moaned – in his rushed escape, he had forgotten to bring the Blessed Sacrament.
He made a quick decision. He had the children smear him with mud, telling them that he was going to be a commando (which they thought was fun). Then he went out, slipped through enemy lines, crept to the Church, and tip-toed up to the Tabernacle, praying in the silence of his heart: “Jesus, I’m sorry I have to come for You this way; You might not recognize me with all this mud… I am in disguise now, but this is really and truly the one who has held You in his hands many mornings at Mass.”
And in his heart, the priest heard God answering him: “Of course I recognize you… I am in disguise too. A lot of people don’t recognize Me either; but in spite of appearances, I am Jesus, your friend, and I hold you in My hands from morning until night.” When the soldiers left, the priest and his congregation carried Jesus in a triumphant procession back to the Tabernacle. When trusting God is hard, a glance at the Eucharist – the sign of God’s faithfulness – can make all the difference. [Adapted from Msgr. Arthur Tonne’s Stories for Sermons].
View More Homily Starter Anecdotes compiled by Fr. Tony
Preaching Anecdotes and Commentary for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi
Summary of Readings
This year’s readings for this feast emphasize the theme of Covenant blood because the ancient peoples sealed covenants with the blood of ritually sacrificed animals, and Jesus sealed this New Covenant with his own Blood, shed on Calvary. Today’s first reading describes how Moses, by sprinkling the blood of a sacrificed animal on the altar and on the people, accepted the covenant Yahweh proposed and made with His People. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 116), presents our acceptance of the New Covenant of which Paul speaks in the second reading, affirming that Jesus sealed the New Covenant with his own Blood on Calvary, thereby putting an end to animal sacrifices. Today’s Gospel details how Jesus converted this ancient ritual into a Sacrament and sacrifice. Instead of the lamb’s blood, Jesus offered his own Divine/human Body and Blood and, instead of sprinkling us with blood, Jesus put it into our hands as food. Mark recounts the institution of the Eucharist — how Jesus said to his disciples, gathered for the Seder: “Take, … eat … this is my Body” — not “represents,” or “memorializes”, but “IS”! A little later, He said: “Take this … drink from it, for This is … my Blood … which will be poured out for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins. ” — again, “IS”.
Preaching Anecdotes and Commentary for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi
We need to receive this message of unity and sacrificial love
The Eucharist, (the Body and Blood of Christ), teaches us the importance of community, the bond that results from this sacrifice. John Chrysostom says: “What is the Bread actually? The Body of Christ. What do communicants become? The Body of Christ. Just as the bread comes from many grains, which remain themselves and are not distinguished from one another because they are united, so we are united with Christ.” Just as numerous grains of wheat are pounded together to make the host, and many grapes are crushed together to make the wine, so we become unified in this sacrifice. Our Lord chose these elements in order to show us that we ought to seek union with one another, to allow the Holy Spirit to transform us into Our Lord Jesus Christ and to work with Him in the process. Christ is the Head and we are the Body. Together we are one. That which unites us is our willingness to sacrifice our time and talents to God in our fellow members in Christ’s Mystical Body. This is symbolized by our sharing in the same Bread and the same Cup. Hence, Holy Communion should strengthen our sense of unity and love.
We need to prepare properly to receive Holy Communion
We have tarnished God’s image within us through acts of impurity, injustice, disobedience and the like. Hence, there is always need for repentance, and a need for the Sacramental confession of grave sins, before we receive Holy Communion. We should remember the warning given by St. Paul: “Whoever, therefore, eats the Bread or drinks the Cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the Body and Blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the Bread and drink of the Cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the Body, eat and drink judgment against themselves.” (1 Cor. 11:27-9). Hence, let us receive Holy Communion with fervent love and respect — not merely as a matter of routine. St. Paul is speaking also of the Mystical Body of Christ, i.e., the people of God gathered at the altar. Such a union, plainly, means that our outward piety towards the consecrated Bread and Wine cannot coexist with rudeness, unkindness, slander, cruelty, gossiping or any other breach of charity toward our brothers and sisters.
We need to become Christ-bearers and -conveyers
By receiving Holy Communion we become Christ-bearers as Mary was, with the duty of conveying Christ to others at home and in the workplace, as love, mercy, forgiveness and humble and sacrificial service.
As we celebrate this great feast of Faith, let us worship what St. Thomas Aquinas did not hesitate to call, “the greatest miracle that Christ ever worked on earth .”….. My Body …….. My Blood“. Before the greatness of this mystery, let us exclaim with St. Augustine, “O Sacrament of devotion! O Sign of unity! O Bond of charity!” Let us also repeat St. Thomas Aquinas’ prayer of devotion in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament: “O Sacrament most holy! O Sacrament Divine! All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine!”