The Octave of Corpus Christi being privileged, Feasts are either commemorated only (in which case the appropriate Collect is said after that of the Office) or transferred to after the Octave.
The Feast of Corpus Christi (Latin for Body of Christ), also known as Corpus Domini, is a Latin Rite liturgical solemnity celebrating the tradition and belief in the body and blood of Jesus Christ and his Real Presence in the Eucharist. It emphasizes the joy of the institution of the Eucharist, which was observed on Holy Thursday in the sombre atmosphere of the nearness of Good Friday.
Saint Francis Caracciolo was born in the kingdom of Naples in 1563, of the princely family of Caracciolo. In childhood he shunned all amusements, recited the Rosary regularly, and loved to visit the Blessed Sacrament and to distribute his food to the poor. To avoid idleness, however, he engaged in hunting, which pastime was not pleasing to God; and Our Lord, to detach him from the world, sent him a terrible trial. When he was 22 years old, he developed leprosy and soon was on the brink of death. Seeing his body in this deplorable condition taught him contempt for the vanity of the world and of youth’s physical strength, and he promised God to serve Him alone if he were cured. The illness disappeared almost at once. He therefore left his parents, sold his portion of the inheritance for the benefit of the poor, and went to study for the priesthood at Naples. He dedicated himself in particular to visiting prisoners and galley-slaves and preparing criminals for death; he spent his leisure hours visiting the Blessed Sacrament in unfrequented churches.
God called him, when only twenty-five, to found the Order of Regular Minor Clerics, with two other priests who had similar aspirations. The Rule they drew up prescribed that each day one of the members fast on bread and water, another take the discipline, a third wear a hair shirt, and each succeed another for perpetual adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Thus they hoped to appease the anger of God unceasingly, and draw down His blessings by their penance. They took the usual vows, adding a fourth — not to accept dignities unless required to do so by their sovereign.
These very humble priests resolved to arrive in total poverty in Rome to seek approbation for their Order, and they mingled with the poor who were asking for alms at the door of the Capuchin Fathers. When recognized by relatives, they asked no favor except that of being taken to the presence of the Holy Father, Sixtus V. The Pope approved the new Congregation and gave them a church in Naples, which became the first center of the Order.
To establish the new Order, Francis, with John Augustine Adorno, his co-founder, undertook journeys throughout Italy and Spain, on foot and without money, content with the shelter and crusts given out of charity. A saintly pilgrim exiled from England predicted to Francis that he would be the new Order’s first General; and a Dominican in Spain, before he had heard them talk of their intentions, received the two of them and gave them food, saying: You are the founders of a new Order which will soon spread, for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, and will be especially flourishing in this kingdom. Asked when that would occur, he replied, Not for three years. In Spain still, Adorno again heard the same prophecy from Saint Louis Bertrand, who insisted on kissing his feet.
The prediction was realized. When Saint Francis returned to Valencia, he found that the twelve religious who had remained there had multiplied in number to the point that the house could no longer contain them. In 1591 he was elected the first General of his Order, while still a prey to the sorrow recently caused by the premature death of Adorno at the age of forty. He redoubled his austerities, and devoted seven hours daily to meditation on the Passion, besides passing most of the night praying before the Blessed Sacrament. He was commonly called the Preacher of Divine Love, and in Spain the Order did indeed flourish.
It was always before the Blessed Sacrament that his ardent devotion was most clearly visible. In the presence of his divine Lord his face emitted brilliant rays of light, and he often bathed the ground with his tears as he prayed, according to his custom, prostrate before the tabernacle, constantly repeating with the royal psalmist, The zeal of Thy house has consumed me! It was at Ancona in Italy, where he had gone to prepare another foundation, that his holy soul, on the eve of Corpus Christi 1608, went to join his Saviour in Heaven. He was forty-four years old when he fell ill with a severe fever. He died exclaiming, Let us go, let us go to heaven! When his body was opened after death, his heart was found seemingly burnt, with these words imprinted around it: Zelus domus tuae comedit me — The zeal of Thy house has consumed me.
Reflection. It is for men, and not for Angels, that our Blessed Lord resides upon the altar. Yet Angels throng our churches to worship Him, while men desert Him. Learn from Saint Francis to avoid such ingratitude, and to spend time as he did, in adoration before the Most Holy Sacrament.
Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 6; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints, and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).
INTROIT Psalm 80: 17
He fed them with the fat of wheat, alleluia; and filled them with honey, out of the rock, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. (Ps. 80: 2) Rejoice in God, our Helper sing aloud to the God of Jacob. v. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Repeat He fed them……
O God, Who in a wonderful Sacrament hast left unto us the memorial of Thy Passion; grant, we beseech Thee, that we may so venerate the sacred mysteries of Thy Body and Blood as to experience continually within ourselves the fruit of Thy Redemption. Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever. R. Amen.
Commemoratio S. Francisci Caracciolo Confessoris
O God, Who endowed blessed Francis, the founder of a new Order, with zeal for prayer and love of penance, grant that Your servants may make such progress in imitating him, that, praying constantly and bringing their bodies under control, they may be found worthy to attain heavenly glory. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. R. Amen.
LESSON 1 Corinthians 11: 23-29
Lesson from the First Epistle of Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians. Brethren, I have received of the Lord, that which also I delivered to you that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread, and giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye and eat, this is My Body which shall be delivered for you; this do for the commemoration of Me. In like manner also the chalice, after He had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in My Blood; this do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of Me. For as often as you shall eat this bread and drink this chalice, you shall show the death of the Lord until He come. Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink of the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and the Blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself; and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the Body of the Lord.
GRADUAL/ ALLELUIA Psalm 144: 15, 16
The eyes of all hope in Thee, O Lord, and Thou givest them meat in due season. V. Thou openest Thy hand, and fillest living every creature with Thy blessing. Alleluia, alleluia. V. (John 6: 56) My Flesh is meat indeed and My Blood is drink indeed: he that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood, abideth in Me, and I in him. Alleluia.
SEQUENCE “Lauda Sion”
Sion, lift up thy voice and sing:
Praise thy Saviour and thy King,
Praise with hymns thy shepherd true.
All thou canst, do thou endeavour,
Yet thy praise can equal never
Such as merits thy great King.
See today before us laid
The living and life-giving Bread!
Theme for praise and joy profound!
The same which at the sacred board
Was, by our incarnate Lord,
Giv’n to His Apostles round.
Let the praise be loud and high:
Sweet and tranquil be the joy
Felt today in every breast.
On this festival divine
Which records the origin
Of the glorious Eucharist.
On this table of the King,
Our new Paschal offering
Brings to end the olden rite.
Here, for empty shadows fled,
Is reality instead;
Here, instead of darkness, light.
His own act, at supper seated,
Christ ordain’d to be repeated,
In His memory divine;
Wherefore now, with adoration,
We, the Host of our salvation,
Consecrate from bread and wine.
Hear, what holy Church maintaineth,
That the bread its substance changeth
Into Flesh, the wine to Blood.
Doth it pass thy comprehending?
Faith, the law of sight transcending
Leaps to things not understood,
Here beneath these signs are hidden
Priceless things, to sense forbidden
Signs, not things, are all we see.
Flesh, from bread, and Blood from wine,
Yet is Christ in either sign,
All entire, confessed to be.
They, who of Him here partake,
Sever not, nor rend, nor break:
But, entire, their Lord receive
Whether one or thousands eat,
All receive the self-same meat,
Nor the less for others leave,
Both the wicked and the good
eat of this celestial Food;
But with ends how opposite!
Here ‘t is life:
and there ‘t is death:
The same, yet issuing to each
In a difference infinite.
Nor a single doubt retain,
When they break the Host in twain,
But that in each part remains
What was in the whole before;
Since the simple sign alone
Suffers change in state or form
The signified remaining one
And the same for evermore.
Lo! upon the altar lies,
Hidden deep from human eyes,
Bread of Angels from the skies,
Made the food of mortal man;
Children’s meat to dogs denied,
In old types presignified:
In the manna Heaven-supplied
In Isaac, and the Paschal lamb.
Jesu! Shepherd of the sheep!
Thou Thy flock in safety keep,
Living Bread! Thy life supply:
Strengthen us, or else we die:
Fill us with celestial grace!
Thou, who feedest us below!
Source of all we have or know!
Grant that with Thy Saints above,
Sitting at the feast of love,
We may see Thee face to face.
GOSPEL St. John 6: 56-59
At that time, Jesus said to the multitude of the Jews: “My Flesh is meat indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My Flesh, and drinketh My Blood, abideth in Me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth Me, the same shall also live by Me. This is the Bread that came down from Heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead. He that eateth this bread shall live forever.”
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Leviticus 21: 6
The priests of the Lord offer incense and loaves to God, and therefore they shall be holy to their God, and shall not defile His Name. Alleluia.
Graciously bestow on Thy Church, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the gifts of unity and peace, which are mystically shown forth in the gifts now offered. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever. R. Amen.
Commemoratio S. Francisci Caracciolo Confessoris
Grant, most merciful Jesus, that, as we commemorate the renowned merits of blessed Francis, and aflame with the same fire of love as burned within him, we may be able to stand worthily around Your holy table. Who livest and reignest with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. R. Amen
PREFACE of the Incarnation
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God, for through the Mystery of the Word made flesh, the new light of Thy glory hath shone upon the eyes of our mind, so that while we acknowledge God in visible form, we may through Him be drawn to the love things invisible. And therefore with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominations, and with all the hosts of the heavenly army, we sing the hymn of The glory, evermore saying:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON 1 Corinthians 11: 26, 27
As often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall show forth the death of the Lord, until He come: therefore whosoever shall eat this Bread or drink the Chalice of the Lord unworthily shall be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord. Alleluia
Make us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, to be filled with the eternal enjoyment of Thy Divinity, which is prefigured by the reception in this life of Thy precious Body and Blood. Who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever. R. Amen.
Commemoratio S. Francisci Caracciolo Confessoris
O Lord, may the most holy sacrifice, which we have today offered unto Your majesty on the feast of blessed Francis leave in our minds an enduring memory and lasting results. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. R. Amen.