A clarion call was made by the Vicar General Fr Martin Sirju for Catholic faithful to bear witness to the Body of Christ in their lives and in society on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, June 8. It is a public holiday in Trinidad and Tobago.
He made the call Monday, May 22 at a Penitential Service at the St Augustine RC Church, Cunupia, in the aftermath of the desecration of the church and tabernacle May 16/17.
The perpetrator/s stole a safe and ransacked the sacristy. The tabernacle with hosts was desecrated. The thieves gained entry by cutting locks on a sliding gate located at Hassarath Road and both cutting and bending burglar proofing on a window located on the southern side of the church. The Cunupia police station was contacted, and officers visited the scene after 7 a.m. Investigations are continuing.
Fr Sirju said: “If we do not come out to celebrate that great Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the one time of the year we take Jesus out into the world, the public, for all to see and at that time above all if we do not come out to witness, why is the government giving the public holiday for us?”
Participating in the Service was Fr Steve Ransome, parish priest and Deacon Tristram Mathura, who also proclaimed the gospel.
Delivering the homily, Fr Sirju remarked on the excuses people made – hot sun, rainfall – for not attending Corpus Christi Masses and processions. He questioned the sentimentality in keeping the Feast as a public holiday when Catholics were not coming out and bearing witness. The Solemnity should not be something “on a piece of paper” but something “alive and active” in people.
Alluding to the break-in at the church and desecration of the tabernacle, Fr Sirju said as people reflect on the unfortunate incident, it must force them to think of the link between the celebration of the votive Mass of the Holy Eucharist with the celebration of Corpus Christi.
Fr Sirju said: “The Mass does not flow from the procession, the procession flows from the Mass, and therefore, I think we should do better in celebrating this important Feast that we are privileged to still have as a public holiday and show that we really claim it as our own.”
Fr Sirju urged that the Corpus Christi Feast be promoted widely and creatively in all parishes and especially with the digital technology available today.
Focusing on the line from the First Reading (Acts 19:1–8) “St Paul spoke out boldly and argued persuasively about the kingdom of God” and St Paul’s excitement, he asked the congregation: “Does the Word of God excite you? Does coming to Mass excite you? Does getting to receive Holy Communion excite you? If it does not, should we be all that offended by the desecration if we are not putting in our part as well? Isn’t it possible we ourselves desecrate the Holy Eucharist by how we come to Mass, how we receive it and what we think about?” Fr Sirju questioned.
The altar was bare when the Service began. Water was blessed by Fr Sirju and sprinkled on the altar, tabernacle, walls of the church and congregation. After the homily, the Litany of the Saints was recited in place of the prayers of intercession.
For the rite of reparation, the clergy changed their vestments, the altar was dressed and subsequently incensed by Fr Sirju. The Liturgy of the Eucharist followed. Fr Ransome addressed the congregation after the Service. —LPG