Feast of Corpus Christi

Author: Shenton Thomas De Silva

THE sixth and 11th of this month (June) saw the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Taman Sri Tebrau, Johor Baru, celebrating the feasts of Corpus Christi (the Body and Blood of Christ) and Sacred Heart of Jesus which were attended by more than 1,000 people.

Both these feasts are celebrated yearly by the Catholic Church. Catholics honour and receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ at every Eucharistic celebration (mass).

The church believes that in this celebration, the Body and Blood of Jesus is presented in the form of bread and wine.

The Catholic tradition says that Christ, prior to his crucifixion, took unleavened bread and wine and referred them as his body and blood to be consumed by believers throughout the ages.

Bishop of Malacca-Johor diocese, the Rt Rev Paul Tan Chee Ing, SJ, who presided over the celebration, emphasised the relationship between the Eucharist and the church.

"The church draws her life from the Eucharist," said the bishop, echoing the words of the late Pope John Paul II.

He said that in solidarity with other religions, the church shares the "infinite love of God not only for Catholics but also for other religions through unconditional love and service".

The Corpus Christi celebration, which began at 6pm, saw Catholics going in procession with the bishop carrying the monstrance (a vessel used to display the consecrated Eucharistic host) around the church along Jalan Serampang. This was followed by the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

Feast organising committee head Sister Theresa Chay said it took six weeks to prepare the event.

"It is the first time the procession is taking place after more than 15 years.

"This helps others in understanding our faith. This can also help to avoid misunderstanding among different races and religions," she said, adding that it was also a way to strengthen solidarity with people of other faiths.

Choir master John Ng, 54, said that the songs sung during the feast were in harmony with the celebration.

"Despite the short notice, we were still able to select and arrange the songs."

Parish council vice-chairman Lawrence Loh, 45, expressed joy for the encouraging response from the people for both events.

"I think more than 800 turned up. I thank the police for allowing the procession to take place," said Loh.

Another devotee, Alvin Michael, 17, said the procession was different from the usual yearly celebration.

"It was different and I'm glad I was able to experience it," said Michael.

By contrast, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was celebrated on a smaller scale, with about 700 Catholics turning up for the event which ended with a procession around the church along Jalan Serampang

The feast, which was first celebrated in the 17th century, took on universal observance under Pope Pius IX in the 19th century.

Religious studies of church history indicate that devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is rooted in scriptures and church tradition.

The veneration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is symbolically the veneration of Jesus whose heart is pure, divine and full of love.

"More than half of the congregation was made of youth from ages 15 to 20," said church Youth leader Adrian Ng, adding that 10 busloads of youths from various parts of Malacca and Johor attended the celebration.

The feast celebration also closed the "Year of Priest", a year dedicated to priests.

The priestly ministry is a special call which Jesus instituted to spread his message of love and peace.

The celebration closed with the launching of the church's website by Bishop Tan.

Extracted from: http://www.nst.com.my/nst/articles/4jpcorpu/Article/

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