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Over the next 2 weeks the Church celebrates four feasts which are considered important enough to be classed as Solemnities: Trinity Sunday today, Mary Help of Christians on 24th May, the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ on 25th May and the Sacred Heart on Friday 30th May.
The Preface of the Holy Trinity expresses succinctly what the feast is about: “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 youreverlasting glory.”
Mary Help of Christians
The decision to place the Australian Church under the patronage of the Virgin Mary invoked by the title Help of Christians was made in 1844 and confirmed by the Holy See in 1852.
Mary Help of Christians was adopted as patron of the new Church of Australia at a significant time in our history: the transportation of convicts was coming to an end, the first elections in Australian history had been held in 1843, and issues of land, immigration and education had begun to surface.
Today we confront many similar social problems and the Church has the same need to witness to the values of the gospel, so recourse to our national patron, Mary Help of Christians, is as relevant and necessary as it has ever been.
Body and Blood of Christ
When the liturgical calendar was reformed in 1969, the observances of Corpus Christi and the Precious Blood were combined into a solemnity which celebrates the Lord’s abiding presence with us in the gift of the Eucharist.
Preface of the Holy Eucharist II, one of two options for the feast, focuses on the impact of the Eucharist on our lives, especially its unifying effect: “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.”
In celebrating the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, we pray that our sharing together the one bread that is Christ’s Body and sharing the one cup of Christ’s Blood may make us truly one in Christ, for the life of the world.
The Church celebrates the solemnity of the Sacred Heart on the Friday after the second Sunday after Pentecost. The physical heart of Jesus is a sign and symbol of God’s immense love for the world whose redemption was accomplished through Christ’s sacrifice.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart began with mystics in the 13th century and became widespread as a result of a series of visions of the Sacred Heart by Margaret Mary Alacoque, a French Visitation nun, in the period1673 to1675. It became a universal observance in 1836 and in 1899 Pope Leo XIII ordered that the world be consecrated to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The Sacred Heart is a devotional way of capturing “not our love for God, but that God loved us” (second reading).
This sentence from the opening prayer for the feast is one of my favourite liturgical texts: “Teach us to see Christ in the lives we touch, to offer him living worship by love-filled service to our brothers and sisters”.