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Plant a fruit tree this Corpus Christi

By VERDEL BISHOP Thursday, June 7 2012

Today, Catholics and other Christians celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi. Planting crops or trees on Corpus Christi, which traditionally marks the beginning of the rainy season, is an age old tradition for many.

Many use the day as an opportunity to sow their favourite seeds for traditional and recreational purposes, while many others take the opportunity to focus on the environment.

The Network of NGOs of Trinidad and Tobago for the Advancement of Women wants more people to adopt the habit of planting more fruit trees. Noting that unlike long ago many backyards are now vacant of even the most common fruit trees including mango, plum, paw paw, cherry and gauva, the organisation is currently hosting its annual Corpus Christi plant sale at 11-13 Fitz Blackman Drive South, Port-of-Spain (opposite the entrance to the Jean Pierre Complex) with an aim to encourage more people to plant fruit trees.

Until Saturday, the Network of NGOs will have on sale over 20 varieties of fruit trees including pommerac, pommecythere, sapodilla, caimite, cashew, passion fruit, sugar apple, chinese tamarind, paw paw, peewah, five finger, gauva, portugal, avocado, soursop, mango, chennette, govenor pum, banana sucklings, jamun, noni and tunka bean as well as various crops.

Hazel Brown, Coordinator of the Network, said most of the trees on sale are dwarf (miniature) trees which are not easily available to households. Brown said, “This is a fund-raiser to encourage people to grow their own fruits. It is something we do every year; we don’t only sell them reasonable items but we also give them information on how to plant and what they need to do. We want people to support the Network as well as help themselves.”

Brown said offering dwarf trees may offer a solution to people who may want to plant fruit trees but who do not have much yard space to grow large trees.

If you want to enjoy fresh fruits without paying lots of money then planting dwarf fruit tree can be ideal. These trees don’t require a lot of garden space and are also very easy to maintain and to look after. And while dwarf trees may not produce the same quantity of fruit as a full-sized trees, the quality of the fruit is usually the same. Similarly, you can even plant semi-dwarf fruit trees. Even though these are marginally bigger than standard dwarf trees, they are perfect for planting in restricted spaces.The Feast of Corpus Christi (also known as the Feast of the Body of Christ) is celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. The celebration commemorates the ritual of the Eucharist and is a reflection of the Maundy Thursday observance during Holy Week. It is celebrated by Roman Catholics and other Christians to proclaim what is known as the truth of the transubstantiation of bread and wine into the actual body of Christ during Mass.

Corpus Christi is celebrated as a public holiday in Trinidad and Tobago and observed mainly by the Roman Catholic community throughout the country. Corpus Christi is also a public holiday in some traditionally Catholic countries including, amongst others Austria, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Croatia, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Poland, parts of Germany, Portugal, San Marino, parts of Spain and Switzerland and Saint Lucia. In countries where it is not a Holy Day of Obligation, it is on the Sunday after Holy Trinity.

Its celebration on a Thursday is meant to associate it with institution by Jesus of the Eucharist during the Last Supper, commemorated on Maundy Thursday, and this is the first free Thursday after Paschaltide.

At the end of the Corpus Christi Mass, it is customary to have a Procession of the Blessed Sacrament, often outdoors, followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

The appearance of Corpus Christi as a feast in the Christian calendar was primarily due to the petitions of the 13th-century Augustinian nun Juliana of Liège. From her early youth Juliana had a veneration for the Blessed Sacrament, and always longed for a special feast in its honour. This desire is said to have been increased by a vision of the Church under the appearance of the full moon having one dark spot, which signified the absence of such a solemnity. In 1208 she reported her first vision of Christ in which she was instructed to plead for the institution of the feast of Corpus Christi. The vision was repeated for the next 20 years but she kept it a secret. When she eventually relayed it to her confessor, he relayed it to the bishop.

Juliana also petitioned the learned Dominican Hugh of St-Cher, Jacques Pantaléon (Archdeacon of Liège who later became Pope Urban IV) and Robert de Thorete, Bishop of Liège. At that time bishops could order feasts in their dioceses, so in 1246 Bishop Robert convened a synod and ordered a celebration of Corpus Christi to be held each year thereafter.

The celebration of Corpus Christi became widespread only after both St Juliana and Bishop Robert de Thorete had died. In 1263 Pope Urban IV investigated claims of a Eucharistic miracle at Bolsena, in which a consecrated host began to bleed. In 1264 he issued the papal bull Transiturus de hoc mundo in which Corpus Christi was made a feast throughout the entire Latin Rite. This was the very first papally sanctioned universal feast in the history of the Latin Rite.

While the institution of the Eucharist is celebrated on Holy Thursday, the liturgy on that day also commemorates Christ’s New Commandment (“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you.” John 13:34), the washing of the disciples’ feet, the institution of the priesthood and the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. For this reason, the Feast of Corpus Christi was established to create a feast focused solely on the Holy Eucharist.

A new liturgy for the feast was composed by St Thomas Aquinas. This liturgy has come to be used not only on the Feast of Corpus Christi itself but also throughout the liturgical year at events related to the Blessed Sacrament.

The earliest possible Thursday celebration falls on May 21 (as in 1818 and 2285), the latest on June 24 (as in 1943 and 2038). The Sunday celebrations fall three days later.

The Thursday dates until 2022 are: May 30, 2013; June 19, 2014; June 4, 2015; May 26, 2016; June 15, 2017; May 31, 2018; June 20, 2019; June 11, 2020; June 3, 2021; June 16, 2022.

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