Corpus Christi and Masses of Thanksgiving

Newly ordained Fr. Christopher Hoffmann and the people of his hometown celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Precious Body and Blood of Christ


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The faithful who gather around the altar for Mass stand in the presence of the entire Church on earth and in heaven.

The people who receive the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in Holy Communion are obliged to take him out into the world, where his voice desperately needs to be heard and his actions seen.

God chose to give priests the gift and responsibility of bringing this about by summoning his grace in the Sacraments.

“As priests, we are to make sure that as we all gather for the Sacred Mass, that it’s done reverently, that it’s done well, that it lifts people up,” Father Joseph Corel, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish of Pettis County, proclaimed from the pulpit of the Sacred Heart Chapel in Sedalia.

“And all who receive the Eucharist take that Eucharistic presence of Christ out to the many, many places in this county and beyond, and take the message of Jesus to where the priests cannot go,” he stated.

It was the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (commonly known as Corpus Christi) and the first of Father Christopher Hoffmann’s two Masses of Thanksgiving in Sedalia, his hometown.

Bishop W. Shawn McKnight ordained Fr. Hoffmann to the Priesthood the previous morning.

Later on Corpus Christi Sunday — joined by Fr. Corel, Father Brad Berhorst, associate pastor, and an impressive turnout of parishioners — Fr. Hoffmann carried the Blessed Sacrament in procession through downtown Sedalia, surrounded by prayers and hymns.

Parishioners held a baldacchino — a portable, ceremonial tent on poles — over Fr. Hoffmann and Christ fully present in the monstrance.

Several young parishioners bearing torches, a crucifix and burning incense led the procession.

Behind the priests were children in their First Holy Communion attire, followed by people of all ages, including babies and children in the arms their parents.

Accompanied by guitar, people sang hymns about the Body of Christ in English and Spanish.

They processed down city streets from St. Patrick Chapel to Sacred Heart Chapel, where the procession closed with Benediction at the altar.

Volunteers from the parish stayed ahead on the route, moving barricades into and out of each intersection as the procession moved through.

The smell of incense mixed with honeysuckle, with people’s voices echoing off the 19th-century buildings, their faces reflecting in the storefront windows.

Along the main thoroughfare through the city, parishioners had set up a small altar on the lawn outside the Pettis County Courthouse.

The procession stopped at the altar, and the people gathered around as Fr. Hoffmann proclaimed Jesus’s Bread of Life Discourse from John, Chapter 6, and prayed Pope St. John Paul II’s Prayer of Thanksgiving for the Eucharistic Presence.

Several participants joined the procession along the way.

Thanks and praise

Fr. Berhorst preached the homily at the Mass of Thanksgiving Fr. Hoffmann offered in Spanish in St. Patrick Chapel.

He said that it’s appropriate to celebrate on the same day the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ and Fr. Hoffmann’s Mass of Thanksgiving because there is such a close connection between the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Holy Orders.

Fr. Berhorst also explained why the Church often calls the first Masses of a new priest “Masses of Thanksgiving” — namely, because it’s an important opportunity for the new priest to thank the parish for all the support that helped him discern his priestly vocation.

“Christ has given us the sacrament of his Body and Blood so that we can participate anew every day in his sacrifice on the cross — so that we can renew in our hearts every day the effects of his passion and resurrection,” Fr. Berhorst said in Spanish.

Therefore, Fr. Berhorst asked everyone — priests and congregation both — to reflect on whether they live as though the Eucharist really were the source and summit of their entire life, and whether Sunday Mass is the most important thing on their calendar.

He thanked Fr. Hoffmann for saying yes to God, and urged the parish to continue to support young people so that they can respond generously to God’s call, especially so that other young men of the parish might respond to the invitation to discern a priestly vocation.

“Thy will be done”

In his homily for Fr. Hoffmann’s Mass in English, Fr. Corel spoke of how the entire Bible, from the first verse of Genesis to the last verse of Revelation, points to Christ and what he did to save people from sin and death. 

“The whole purpose of the Old Testament is to prepare us for the Messiah, to prepare us for the one who is going to come and free us from sin and death by dying on the cross,” said Fr. Corel.

But even before doing that, Jesus showed how to live a fully human life.

“By that, I mean constantly giving our total will over to the Father, just as the Son constantly gave himself more completely over to the will of the Father,” Fr. Corel stated.

He reminded Fr. Hoffmann that priests are called in a special way to do that in their own lives.

“But you know,” Fr. Corel stated, “that’s not only for priests. It’s for all of us who are baptized. We’re all called to be listening to where it is the Lord is calling us.”

Each priest’s goal must be to help people continuously abandon their own will and give themselves completely over to the will of the Father.

“For, he knows best what we’re supposed to be about,” said Fr. Corel.

Jesus gave the perfect example of this by freely laying down his own life to save people lost by sin.

“And before doing that,” Fr. Corel noted, “he gave us the most amazing gift — the gift of his Body and Blood, soul and divinity, so that he truly will be with us until the end of the age.

“Because every time we come together for Holy Mass, regardless of where we are on the planet, we are all together in three places: right where we are in our church at that local altar; back on Calvary, where we are with him as he dies on the cross; and with him in eternal glory.”

Fr. Corel emphasized the importance of being Eucharistic people who frequently receive the Body and Blood of Christ at Mass, adore him during frequent visits to church, and then take that presence out to hospitals, nursing homes, schools and their places of employment.

“The priest gives you that Eucharistic presence so that it can be given to others in places where we cannot go as priests, but where the lay faithful are constantly living out the Eucharistic presence and bringing Christ to all,” he said.