By KEVIN PAMBA
ONE of the unique features of Christianity’s foundation church, the Catholic (universal) Church, is that it is steeped in rich traditions that enliven the Word of God in the Bible and enrich the faith of the Christians.
The Church’s liturgical year is marked by many events that bring out the best in these traditions that point Christians to the Word of God.
One of the annual events that the Catholic Church marks each year is the “Festival of Corpus Christi” or the “Feast of Corpus Christi”. Corpus Christi is Latin for “Body of Christ”.
Christians in the Catholic Church in Papua New Guinea and worldwide marked the “Feast of Corpus Christi” last Sunday 23 June.
The Festival of Corpus Christi is an important occasion in the Catholic liturgical calendar where the Christian meaning of the “body and blood of Jesus Christ”, that the Church commemorates in the Holy Eucharist (Mass) with the symbol of Holy Communion, is acknowledged and commemorated.
The Holy Spirit Cathedral Parish in Madang town was among Catholic congregations in PNG that marked the Feast Day of Corpus Christi.
The parish celebrated the day with a combined Mass (of the English and Tok Pisin congregations) in the morning followed by a procession with specific prayers and singing.
Archbishop of Madang Archdiocese Most Reverend Stephen Reichert OFM Cap was the main celebrant at the Mass. In his homily (sermon), he highlighted what the “Feast of Corpus Christi” represents and accentuates in the faith of Catholics. The main Bible reading for the homily came from the Gospel of Luke, which talks about the miracle Jesus performed by using five loaves of bread and two fish to feed 5000 people.
Abp Reichert said out of the seven sacraments that the Church oversees for its members, the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist (the Mass and the sharing of the Holy Communion), is most pivotal. This is because it is about Jesus Christ who sacrificed his life on the cross for the redemption of humanity.
Abp Reichert called on Catholics to reach out to people in their communities to come to know the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The archbishop also emphasized the responsibility of all Catholic parents to raise their children in faith so that they grow to become responsible adults.
The Mass was followed by a procession on the streets near the Cathedral. The procession included singing and recitation of specific prayers including the Rosary. The recitation of prayers and singing continued at three altars set on locations along the route of the procession and ended with prayers and singing at the Cathedral. Among the prayer points recited was for the strengthening of evangelization, to reach out to the unreached, and for more Catholics to join the evangelization work of the church.
Here is part of the prayer for the strengthening of evangelization and proclamation of faith recited in Tok Pisin at the three altars along the route of the procession:
“God Papa, yu tingting long ol manmeri ino save yet long Gutnius bilong Pikinini bilong yu.
“Olsem na mipela ipre long yu: marimari long ol manmeri ino save yet long yu, bai ol ibilip long Gutnius bilong Pikinini bilong yu, Jisas Krais, na iluksave long yu.
“Singautim planti manmeri bilong mekim wok bilong yu long olgeta ples bilong graun.
‘Strongim ol Kristen, bai ol ino ken poret na sem long soim bilip bilong ol long ol arapela manmeri.
“Sambai na wok wantaim ol wokmanmeri bilong Sios bai Gutnius iken kamap long olgeta ples.
The Festival of Corpus Christi is one of many feast days and commemorative events in the Catholic liturgical calendar.
The Catholic Church, as the foundational church of the Christian faith, uses these occasions as symbols for the faithful to congregate and reflect on their lives as Christians and renew commitment to the faith and evangelize.
- Dr Kevin Pamba PhD is based in Divine Word University, Madang.