“You give them something to eat” – Corpus Christi in Leuven

It was a beautiful sunny Thursday afternoon on 16 June and thus perfect walking and terrace weather. Lots of people in the streets and cafes of Leuven. Many get-togethers, planned and spontaneous. A city bubbling with life, conviviality and relaxation.

Around 6 pm, Sint-Kwinten’s church filled up with people from all countries, languages and cultures. Young and old gathered to profess their faith in the Eucharistic Jesus on this Corpus Christi day, which we could celebrate publicly again after two years of interruption.

Priests, deacons and the entire people of God celebrated the Eucharist together and listened attentively to God’s Word. It was very special to hear in the Gospel of the day (Luke 9, 11-17) that the disciples wanted to send the people away to find shelter somewhere else. Jesus, however, had another proposal: “Give them something to eat” (verse 13).

In his homily, Father Juan Carlos stressed how Father Damien found his strength on Molokai, in his care of the lepers, by spending a lot of time daily in front of the Blessed Sacrament in silence and prayer.

“I find my consolation in the one and only companion who will never leave me, that is, our Divine Saviour in the Holy Eucharist…. It is at the foot of the altar that we find the strength necessary in this isolation of ours. Without the Blessed Sacrament a position like mine would be unbearable. But, having Our Lord at my side, I continue always to be happy” (a letter to his brother Father Pamphile Deveuster).

With the ringing of the church bells, the procession set off through Naamsestraat to Sint-Pieter’s church. Bells were rung, incense was burned and songs sung, accompanying Jesus as he made his way through the streets of our city (Acts 10, 38).

Many surprised glances, many who quickly pulled out their smartphones, here and there a smile but also a questioning of meaning and, wondrously, a man or woman who knelt reverently before the Lord in this simple form of bread. People were blessed along the way.

In Sint-Pieter’s church, which gradually filled up, people sang and prayed for so many intentions.

Then the procession returned to Sint-Kwinten’s church, where the blessing was given with the silent command: “You give them something to eat.”

Heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped make our Corpus Christi celebration a success.