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A feast of feasts in June
I suppose it could be said that today marks the beginning of a very solemn period for the Church with a solemnity celebrated on each of the next four Sundays! After today, which is the Ascension of the Lord, they are Pentecost on 4th June, Trinity on 11th and the Body and Blood of Christ on 18th.
Such a feast of feasts can be rather overwhelming for those who plan, lead, preach and celebrate the liturgies. As usual, a good way to get to the heart of these celebrations is to look at the prefaces assigned to each. These liturgical texts give us helpful insights into the meaning of each feast and provide wonderful prayers to help prepare ourselves to celebrate them.
Christ has passed beyond our sight,
not to abandon us but to be our hope.
Christ is the beginning, the head of the Church;
where he has gone, we hope to follow. (Preface of the Ascension I)
In his risen body he plainly showed himself to his disciples
and was taken up to heaven in their sight
to claim for us a share in his divine life. (Preface of the Ascension II)
Today you sent the Holy Spirit
on those marked out to be your children
by sharing the life of your only Son,
and so you brought the paschal mystery to its completion.
Today we celebrate the great beginning of your Church
when the Holy Spirit made known to all peoples the one true God,
and created from the many languages of man
one voice to profess one faith. (Preface of Pentecost)
We joyfully proclaim our faith
in the mystery of your Godhead.
You have revealed your glory
as the glory also of your Son
and of the Holy Spirit:
three Persons equal in majesty,
undivided in splendour,
yet one Lord, one God,
ever to be adored in your everlasting glory. (Preface of the Holy Trinity)
The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ does not have its own preface and one of the prefaces of Holy Eucharist are used:
In this great sacrament you feed your people
and strengthen them in holiness,
so that the family of mankind
may come to walk in the light of one faith,
in one communion of love.
We come then to this wonderful sacrament
to be fed at your table
and grow into the likeness of the risen Christ. (Preface of Holy Eucharist II)