I would like to remind everyone that our Corpus Christi procession will take place next weekend, at the end of the 10:30 Mass. All are certainly invited to join! Being the first we have done this in a very long time, my plan is to accomplish this with a noble simplicity, and then see how we can enhance it as we do it year after year. By “noble simplicity,” I mean that we will try to make it a beautiful event to the extent that we are able, even if we are not able at this point to facilitate something as elaborate as one would experience in Italy or Mexico on this wonderful feast day on which we celebrate the tremendous gift of the Eucharist. Of course, we will have some beautiful hymns being sung while we are processing through the streets; special thanks to Jessica Schuster, the adult choir, and the children’s choir for teaming up to sing during the procession!
I realize that next Sunday is also Fathers’ Day, and therefore many people will have plans with family after Mass. For this reason, I intend to keep the procession fairly succinct. It should last only about 20-30 minutes. The procession will finish with all of us processing back into the church, where we will conclude everything with Benediction in the usual fashion. Afterward, there will be cookies and refreshments available outside.
Why do we do a Eucharistic procession on the solemnity of Corpus Christi? To start, the Roman Missal indicates that, “It is desirable that a procession take place after the Mass [on the solemnity of Corpus Christi].” However, to dig into the Church’s reasoning for desiring this historical practice requires a longer explanation, which takes us back centuries.
As one author explains:
In 1263 a German priest, Peter of Prague, stopped at Bolsena, Italy, while on a pilgrimage to Rome. At that time this priest was suffering a crisis of faith, doubting that Christ was actually present in the consecrated Host. While celebrating Holy Mass above the tomb of St. Christina in the church named after this martyr, he had barely spoken the words of Consecration when blood started to seep from the consecrated Host and trickle over his hands onto the altar and the corporal.
At first the priest attempted to hide the blood, but then he interrupted the Mass and asked to be taken to the neighboring city of Orvieto, where Pope Urban IV was then residing. The Pope listened to the priest’s account and dismissed him. He then sent emissaries for an immediate investigation. When all the facts were ascertained, he ordered the Bishop of the Diocese to bring the Host and the linen cloth bearing the stains of blood to Orvieto.
[…]One year later, in August of 1264, Urban IV[…] instituted the feast of Corpus Christi for the universal Church.
The Eucharistic procession then, developed as an act of public devotion on this great feast day. Not only was it a profession of the truth of Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist, but it was also meant as a testament to the reality that Christ, present in the Eucharist, is the one who leads us and rules over us as our king.
I propose that Eucharistic processions are as much needed today as they were in the 1200’s. Now, as then, there is sadly a widespread disbelief in Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist. If you are able to join next Sunday for the procession, consider offering up to Jesus your participation in it for someone you know who has fallen away from the Church and/or no longer believes in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. My hope is that our procession will not only deepen our love for the Eucharist, but will also be a means by which others will have their faith rekindled. Hope to see you there!
Blessings to you all!