THURSDAY, JUNE 23: Many Western Christians rejoice in the Body of Christ in the Mass today, as part of the feast of Corpus Christi. Maundy Thursday’s commemoration of the Eucharist draws several similarities to Corpus Christi, but the differences lie in details: Maundy Thursday focuses on the institution of the Eucharist and of the New Commandment declared by Christ on that day; Corpus Christi is a celebration of the actual presence of Christ in the Eucharistic bread and wine. (Wikipedia has details.) As Maundy Thursday takes places on a Thursday, Corpus Christi does, too; however, some churches choose to push the feast to the following Sunday so more churchgoers can appreciate the holiday. (Get the Catholic viewpoint at FishEaters.)
The early Church dedicated no particular day to the Eucharistic presence until a 13th-century nun, Juliana of Liege, spent her life urging the adoption of a veneration day. Following a childhood appreciation, dreams and divine appearances, St. Juliana—along with Bishop Robert de Thorete—worked to convince the Church of a need for Corpus Christi. Today, Corpus Christi means processions of the Blessed Sacrament (with rose petals strewn in the path), vibrant parades, food, games and the decoration of homes with flowers and candles.
Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.