05 June 2010

Revisiting the Upper Room through the Genius of Da Vinci (Corpus Christi 2010)


For as often as you shall eat this bread and drink the chalice,
you shall proclaim the death of the Lord, until he come.

External Solemnity of Corpus Christi
6 June 2010
Epistle: 1 Cor. 11:23-29
Gospel: Jn. 6:56-59


Were ours a Catholic society, we would have celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi last Thursday with all the solemnity and splendor that we now accord this beautiful feast. I mention this fact that we may all be reminded of the connection we should draw between the Feast of Corpus Christi and Maundy Thursday. For both days would have us return to the Upper Room to commemorate the institution of the Holy Eucharist. And yet, the approach we take today is somewhat different from that of Maundy Thursday. On Maundy Thursday, we went to the Upper Room to accompany Christ and His Disciples through the Passion and Death of Our Lord. For that reason, the joy expressed on Maundy Thursday is mixed with somberness and sorrow. The Gloria is sung, but afterwards the organ falls silent, the bells are replaced by clappers, and the altar is stripped of its festive adornments and usual appointments. The sobriety and somberness of the Passion fill our hearts, leaving little room for joy. Today, however, having passed through the sorrows of Our Lord’s Passion, as well as the joys of His Resurrection, we now revisit the Upper Room. Our purpose is twofold: First, to ponder devoutly the Holy Eucharist, that wondrous gift of Himself that Christ imparted and entrusted to His Bride, the Church; second, to give free rein to our joy and gratitude for this gift of the Holy Eucharist, going so far as to give public veneration to Our Lord contained in the Blessed Sacrament.
Let us, then, return to the Upper Room. And today, I propose to do so by way of a special place in Milan, Italy that received the attentions of an exceedingly brilliant man, one of the greatest painters of all time. The place to which I refer is the Dominican Convent of Our Lady of Grace. And the genius who left his mark there was none other than Leonardo Da Vinci.