Corpus Christi 2020 will be celebrated very differently from previous years in Trinidad and Tobago. Its significance however is in no way diminished — even a century later.
In the Catholic News, June 14, 1919 page 3, the then editor talks about the feast after being approached by non-Catholics for information “as to the meaning of Corpus Christi and the inner signification of the beautiful procession which wends its way around Marine Square once a year in the month of June”.
The following is an excerpt from the article: “Corpus Christi is one of the few days of Catholic obligation which the British government undertook to respect in Trinidad for all time. If we mistake not, the day is mentioned in the Treaty of Surrender signed between the last Spanish Governor Dom José Maria Chacon and Sir Ralph Abercromby on the outskirts of San José the Oruna, the ancient capital city. It is the feast commemorative of the real presence of Our Blessed Lord in the Sacrament of the Altar. The Council of Trent teaches ‘If anyone shall say that, in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, there are not contained truly, really and substantially, the Body and Blood together with the Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ and, consequently, only as in a sign, or a figure, or a power, let him be anathema’. Corpus Christi then, is the feast of the Body of Christ present on our Catholic altars.
“But can this Bread be Jesus? This is a hard saying and who can bear it? As far as words can explain the greatest mystery of love, the same Council of Trent lays down the explanatory doctrine. ‘If any man shall deny the singular and wonderful changing of the whole substance of the Bread into Body and the whole substance of the wine into Blood of Our Lord, only the external appearances of the Bread and Wine remaining, which changing the Catholic Church calls transubstantiation, let him be anathema’.
“And the Mass is the sacrifice of propitiation, the renewal of the sacrifice of Calvary. Jesus, the Mediator, lives daily and renew his passion and death in a mystical manner on our Catholic altars. It is there that we may cleanse our souls from the stains and sins of life and refresh ourselves for the continuance of life’s journey through this vale of tears.
“It is the public profession of this faith that prompts the great Catholic procession around Marine Square once a year on Corpus Christi day. How strangely upon believing ears fall the words of unbelief: The sacrament of the Lord’s supper was not by Christ’s ordinance, reserved, carried about, lifted up or worshipped.
“On next Thursday, the opportunity will present itself to Catholics to make that profession of faith. The grand, edifying procession will march around the square, the banners will float in the breeze in honour of the Royal progress of the King of Kings who from the repository Altar will bless the kneeling multitude. It will be for Catholics to take their rightful place among the processionists.”