The tradition of giving thanks for the institution of the Eucharist (in the story of Jesus’ life on a Thursday) has long been celebrated on the first “free” Thursday outside of Lent/Easter. People connect it with Juliana of Liège. Thomas Aquinas, at the request of Pope Urban IV in the year 1264, produced the Mass and the Offices for the feast. And he wrote the hymns Lauda Sion and Pange Lingua in its honour.
It is omitted in the 1549, 1552, 1559, and 1662 Books of Common Prayer, returning in 1928 – but without a date in the Calendar. This approach continues in The Episcopal Church’s BCP. The Church of England’s Alternative Service Book restores its calendrical position, as does A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa.
New Zealand Anglicanism ranks the feast as An Other Commemoration of our Lord (page 9 – along with The Holy Name of Jesus and Holy Cross Day). Might NZ be unique in Anglicanism, however, in calendaring a celebration without providing readings or a collect?!
Until 1992, the NZ lectionary booklet appears happy to fill the vacuum from mother CofE. Then in 1992, For All the Saints (a Kiwi resource “received” by General Synod) had suggested that the readings and collect from the home-grown 2-year Sunday series for Pentecost 11 be used. “Received” means, I guess (there is no definition of its status liturgically), that it’s not binding on us, not required of us, but is seen to be “mostly harmless”. It’s the Anglican Church of Or – you can use it.
That continued until 2004. In 2004, the NZ lectionary booklet abandoned the For All the Saints suggestion, returning to CofE resources that haven’t even been “received” here. Firstly, “CLC… an adaptation of the Revised Common Lectionary for use in the Church of England… included [in the lectionary booklet] where provision has not been made in RCL or in ANZPB/HKMOA” (The Lectionary 2004).
Then from 2009 to today, the proper is sourced in the Church of England’s Common Worship – again, an “unreceived” document with no status in our Church. I suspect that many (most?) celebrating Corpus Christi in NZ today simply turn to the Mass in the Roman Rite – that material has at least equal weight in our NZ Anglican Church of Or to the unreceived material in our lectionary booklet.
And then there will be those who follow the Daily Eucharistic Lectionary (another RC resource – in the image above) and Sundayise Corpus Christi to this coming Sunday.
So, here’s my collect for today:
Let us pray (in silence) [that through the eucharist we may grow into Christ’s life]
Gracious and merciful God,
in a wonderful sacrament you have given us
a memorial of the passion of your Son
grant that we who receive these sacred mysteries
may grow up into him in all things
until we come to your eternal joy;
through our Saviour Jesus Christ
who is alive with with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.
Read more about this prayer and reflection here.