With the Bull called “Transiturus”, Pope Urban IV instituted the feast of Corpus Christi. A substantial excerpt is found at this page from www.catho.org. It is called “Transiturus” because it begins with the phrase “Transiturus de hoc mundo”, “When he (Jesus) was about to pass on from this world”. The phrase recalls the night of the Last Supper when the Lord instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
There is another excerpt in Dutch found here but compared to the Denzinger excerpt cited above, the translation seems to be loose and shorter than the Latin. It does however render the beginning paragraph bearing the document’s title, a feature missing in the aforementioned citation.
I am interested in the way the Scriptures is cited and alluded to in the document. The incompleteness of the document presented in the above pages, does not allow me to give a complete list. What I was able to gather, however, is very informative.
1. The first line of the document alludes to the Last Supper events narrated in the Synoptics. But the document also alludes especially to John 13:1 “Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end”
2. Cited directly is Luke 22:19 (Do this in memory of me), preparing for the explanation of the sacrament as a “memoriale mirabile … memoriale salvificum.” In the same paragraph, however, the “memorial” — we say today “making-present again”— is so unique (insigne) that in it we approach the “corporal presence of the Savior himself” (profecto proficimus ipsius corporali praesentia Salvatoris)
While we embrace with our hearts and souls the other things (alia) which we re-present (in the sacraments? in the liturgy?), it is not through these that we obtain this real presence. Indeed, in this sacramental commemoration of Christ, Jesus Christ though present under a different form is by his very own substance with us.
3. Matthew 28:20 is cited and linked to the memorial ordered in Luke 22:19. Thus, the words “Ï will be with you all the days until the consummation of the world” is also a reference to the sacrament of His Body and Blood. The text goes
When he was about to ascend to heaven, he said to the Apostles and their followers: “Behold, I am with you all the days until the consummation of the world”, comforting them with this benign promise, that he would remain and be with them even in bodily presence.
4. Allussion to the theme of Priest and Victim in the letter to the Hebrews (9:25ff; 10:11ff). Here, “Transiturus” almost sounds like an Augustinian sermon.
Going beyond all the fullness of generosity, exceeding all manner of true love, he gave himself as food (attribuit se in cibum). O what singular and admirable generosity, where the Donor came as donation, the gift no different from the Giver.
5. Gen. 2:17 (On the day you eat of it, you shall die) and John 6:52 (If anyone eats from this bread, he shall live in eternity) placed side by side to illustrate how “where the wound has been struck, even the medicine comes forth and where death has entered, from there, life has appeared.” The allussion, of course, is to Jesus hanging on the cross, pierced by a lance and from whose wounded side came forth water and blood, the sacraments of the Church.
This brief survey of the document “Transiturus” should be helpful for preachers on the feast of Corpus Christi. For the following reasons…
1. There are some preachers who are reluctant to link Jesus’ promise “I will be with you” with the Blessed Sacrament. Here there is a clear connection.
2. The gospel reading for Corpus Christi (Year A) is from John 6:51–58. One of the verses of the selection, 6:52, can be related to Gen. 2:17 — as does “Transiturus” — and can be used as an additional avenue for the way the topic will be developed.
Finally, I would like to share something about the growth of my understanding about the Sacrament of the Eucharist. One of the more memorable sermons I’ve heard about the Eucharist is from the late Cardinal Sin, and he preached it when I was still in high school (c. 1978). He said: “When you eat an apple, the apple changes into you. But when you eat the Body of Christ, you are changed into Christ.” Now I know that the Cardinal was just passing on what he has received, that in the Mass where I heard him say those words, apostolic tradition was being handed on. Denz. 847 (the second paragraph devoted to “Transiturus”) ends this way:
This bread is taken, but not consumed; it is eaten, but not changed because it is never transformed into the one who eats (in edentem minime trasformatur); but if worthily received, the one who receives is conformed to it (sibi recipiens conformatur).
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