Two wonderful feasts…Corpus Christi was this past Thursday, June 3rd and the Feast of the Sacred Heart is Friday, June 11th!
On the Thursday after the octave of Pentecost falls the feast of Corpus Christi–the feast of the Holy Eucharist. The actual anniversary of the institution of the Blessed Sacrament is celebrated on Holy Thursday, but on this day the Church cannot summon the proper festive mood, because of all the other happenings following the Last Supper, which she also has to commemorate.
For this reason she has instituted a special feast day for this event. In the old country this used to be the great feast day at summer’s beginning, with its distinctive feature the solemn procession, after the High Mass, in which the Blessed Sacrament was carried through the streets and over the fields and meadows. Such a Corpus Christi Day belongs among our most beautiful memories.
The day before, the big boys of the village cut young trees in the woods, usually birch, and plant them on either side of the road along which the priest will carry the Blessed Sacrament. From the village inn you hear the brass band having a last rehearsal, while mothers pin-curl the hair of their little girls. Everybody is preparing his finery for the great day.
The Association of Voluntary Firemen come in their best uniforms and brass helmets. The war veterans will also be in uniform with big plumed hats. The big girls are making garlands by the yards which will span the street. All windows will be decorated, houses and families vying with each other the best carpets, flanked by candles and flowers, are hung out the windows and statues and holy paintings are exhibited on them.
Early in the morning freshly cut grass is strewn thickly on the road. Four times the procession will come to a halt, the priest will sing solemnly the beginning of one of the four Gospels and each time there will be Solemn Benediction.
At those four spots altars are erected and decorated with trees and greenery and a profusion of flowers and candles. A great deal of love and care and time goes into these preparations.
Then comes the great day. The church choir gives its best at the Solemn High Mass and all the people attend from the mayor to the smallest child, for everybody wants to accompany Our Lord on His triumphal way. The procession is headed by an altar boy carrying a crucifix, followed by all the school children–the girls in white, their veils held in place by wreaths of flowers, looking for all the world like so many little brides; the boys wearing a wreath of flowers on their left upper arm over their Sunday-best, just like “best men.”
Then come the different confraternities with their banners and costumes. In the towns the convents would send every member they could spare. There would be the blue Vincentian Sisters with their coronets, looking like a group of doves, the white Dominican nuns, the brown Carmelites of the Third Order, the black Benedictines followed by the brown Franciscans, then the Mission Fathers and the bearded Capuchins followed by the secular clergy in their liturgical vestments.
They are all like the heralds of the great King Who is following now under the richly embroidered baldachin carried by the four most important men of the community. The pastor carries the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament. Two little girls are throwing flower petals out of baskets directly at the feet of Our Lord. Little altar boys alternate in ringing silver bells and swinging the censer from which rise billowing clouds, enveloping the Sanctissimum.
On the right and on the left are marching soldiers carrying guns as if on parade. Behind the Blessed Sacrament follows the church choir, then a detachment of firemen, the war veterans in uniforms, and the rest of the community.
At the very end of the procession comes the brass band playing hymns while everybody joins in the singing. The highlights for everybody, young and old, are the moments of benediction with the priest raising the monstrance for all to see and the soldiers lifting their guns and shooting their salute, while from the outskirts cannons resound with a thundering echo.
I cannot remember a single occasion when it rained on Corpus Christi Day. From a cloudless blue sky a hot June sun would shine. At the end of such a triumphal procession everyone from the oldest grandfather in a plumed hat to the smallest flower girl would be in a truly festive mood.
In the new world, we naturally found a different Corpus Christi celebration. In Philadelphia, where we stayed for the first two years, we took part once in a Corpus Christi procession which went around the church grounds.
In the second year we acted as church choir at the convent where our little girls went to school, walking around their big garden. It was all very solemn and moving and devout.
But as soon as we were up on our hill in Vermont, we obtained the bishop’s permission for an outdoor procession. Now we put up two altars, Hedwig cuts the grass early in the morning with a scythe, and all of us accompany Our Lord on His way over the fields and pastures and back home through our cemetery.
THE FEAST OF THE SACRED HEART
Eight days after Corpus Christi follows the feast of the Sacred Heart.
After Jesus had died for us on the Cross, He wanted to do even more–to give His last drop of blood. And so the Roman soldier pierced His heart with a lance. One would think this would have convinced all later generations of their Redeemer’s love.
But the “Prince of this world” saw to it that Christians in the course of time became forgetful of this love.
To remind us, Jesus in 1675 appeared to a humble little nun in France, St.Margaret Mary, all aglow and radiant, the Risen Christ of Easter Sunday. On His breast she saw His heart all afire.
Our Lord pointed to it, saying, “Behold, this heart which has loved men so much,” and He told her to spread the news: everyone who would venerate this symbol of the Divine Heart He would ward with divine generosity.
I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.
I will establish peace in their houses.
I will comfort them in all their afflictions.
I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all in death.
I will bestow a large blessing upon all their undertakings.
Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and the infinite ocean of mercy.
Tepid souls shall grow fervent.
Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
I will bless every place where a picture of My Heart shall be set up and honored.
I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be blotted out.
I promise them in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the first Friday in nine consecutive months the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving the Sacraments; My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.
As our home is called “Cor Unum” and our motto for daily life that we want to be one heart and one soul, we chose the feast of the Sacred Heart as our family feast.
On that day, after a Solemn High Mass and the feast-day breakfast, we have our yearly family conference. We report on all the doings of the past year, we talk about the plans of the coming year.
This is the day for every one of us to say whether he or she wants to stay in the family choir known as the Trapp Family Singers for another season; whoever wants to get married or whoever wants to do something on his own–this is the day to say so. This custom comes from the old country.
Many families have their family day on the feast of the Holy Family in January, some on the feast of St. Joseph, who was a family man.
Every day you need to lift your husband up in prayer. Ask St. Joseph to help him to be a good husband and father. He needs you, who are his closest companion, to lift him up each day to our Heavenly Father. Ask Our Lord to protect him and to protect your marriage. What a wonderful gift a praying wife is! -Finer Femininity ❤
Here, Baroness Maria Augusta Trapp tells in her own beautiful, simple words the extraordinary story of her romance with the baron, their escape from Nazi-occupied Austria, and their life in America.
Now with photographs from the original edition.
Most people only know the young Maria from The Sound of Music; few realize that in subsequent years, as a pious wife and a seasoned Catholic mother, Maria gave herself unreservedly to keeping her family Catholic by observing in her home the many feasts of the Church’s liturgical year, with poems and prayers, food and fun, and so much more!
With the help of Maria Von Trapp, you, too, can provide Christian structure and vibrancy to your home. Soon your home will be a warm and loving place, an earthly reflection of our eternal home.This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support.