I'm not sure why--whether it's a cultural thing here in Canada, or if the practice simply died out in past years due to the post-Vatican-II confusion, or if other reasons were at work--but Corpus Christi processions aren't that common here. Last year, the Legion of Mary wanted to renew the practice of Corpus Christi processions, and picked our parish, St. Margaret Mary, to host it. We had a great turnout and Fr. Bill Trusz, our pastor, thought it would be a good tradition to maintain and develop in future years. I heartily agree! So this year, we had our second annual Corpus Christi procession.
It is a wonderfully inspiring thing to see Catholics taking their faith to the streets in a public witness. Through rosaries prayed on the way, to meditations at three outdoor altars set up for the occasion, with litanies and Gospel readings, we announced the Gospel of Jesus--that He loves us and comes to be with us, desiring a relationship with us. He died for us and rose again to save us, and remains present with us in the Eucharist--through which we can experience intimate Communion with Him.
It had poured rain the entire night before, and was supposed to rain all weekend. It was even drizzling in the morning for Mass. But the skies cleared up in time for the procession, although the parks were a bit flooded. Nevertheless, the procession went off without a hitch, thanks to the careful planning of Laurie Jasvac.
It was fascinating to see the people on the streets and in the parks, and their varied reactions to the procession. Especially the children, who stopped their playing to gape and ask questions about what was going on--many of whom ended up tagging along (and "shh-ing" their friends!). There was a group of four girls, who had simply been playing in the park by one of the altars, who had a yellow ribbon. They had been twirling around with it when we arrived. After stopping and listening for a while, they began to dance innocently with the ribbon as we sang the Tantum Ergo (the last two stanzas of the hymn with which I closed yesterday's post). Now, you might not be a fan of liturgical dance during Mass. I'm not either. But this wasn't Mass. It wasn't even in the Church. And most importantly, these children weren't from the Church (so far as I know. They weren't part of the procession, anyway). They simply were responding in innocence to the Innocent One before them.
It reminded me of the reading Fr. Bill read to open the radio show I was a guest on (you can listen to that here), from St. Thérèse of Lisieux's autobiography, about her own childhood recollections of Processions when she was growing up. The wonder, innocence, and wholesomeness of the scene was very moving.
Growing up in the Evangelical Protestant world, vocal and public expressions of faith in order to evangelise are very much a part of my worldview. I recognise their need and their importance in the saving of souls. "How shall they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:14). Yet here was a type of preaching that I'd never encountered in my Evangelical days. Here, just as Jesus is present to us in the Church, we simply made Jesus, and the Church, present in the neighbourhood. We prayed, we sang, we heard the Gospel--and we adored our Eucharistic Lord.
Blessed be God.Thanks to Brian Bolt for taking the pictures for me, while I was busy being an acolyte!
Blessed be His holy Name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.
Blessed be the Name of Jesus.
Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be His Most Precious Blood.
Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy.
Blessed be her holy and Immaculate Conception.
Blessed be her glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.
Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste Spouse.
Blessed be God in His angels and in His saints.
Amen. (The Divine Praises)
(Category: Catholic Distinctives: Sacraments--The Eucharist;
Catholic Devotions: Eucharistic Devotions)