While the Church considers this liturgical time as Ordinary time, she seizes upon the opportunity, following Easter time, to celebrate the solemn feasts we have just completed, Pentecost and the Solemnity of the Trinity. Today she celebrates the third such feast, the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, more familiarly known as Corpus Christi, before returning to the Sundays of ordinary time, the Tenth Sunday on June 10.
In the first one thousand Years of the Church's history, the Eucharist was viewed primarily as a sacred action. The ancient Church insisted that the Sacrament was instituted for men and women. According to the Fathers, the purpose of the Eucharist was not so much to make Christ present among us but present to our sacrifice and sacrificial meal. The effects of the Eucharist, rather than the Real Presence claimed their fullest attention. Certainly they knew that the Real Presence was necessary to secure these effects but they saw it in relation to the sacrificial action, rather than in isolation from it. Consequently, any special reverence paid to the consecrated host not associated with the Mass or the communion of the sick, was unknown until the High Middle Ages.
By the 12th century, however, as a result of Eucharistic controversies at the time, a new movement to make the reserved Sacrament an object of cult began to manifest itself in the West. As the Middle Ages progressed, the faithful showed a great desire to see and adore the host. This was prompted by the fact that the people saw the Mass as a dramatization of the Passion, as a kind of spectacle one watched, but did not participate in. But a vision experienced by St. Juliana of Liege around 1209 prompted the Bishop of Liege to declare in 1246 a Feast in honor of the Blessed Sacrament. Some may remember celebrating this feast on the Thursday following the Solemnity of the Trinity. But in order to allow a greater number of people to celebrate this Eucharistic Feast, the celebration was changed to the Thursday following Trinity Sunday.
Fr John R. Mulvehill