contemplating divine mysteries
The holidays, holy days and feast days that fill the liturgical calendar serve as little reminders of our Catholic faith. They provide us the opportunity to celebrate profound truths and contemplate divine mysteries. The Feast of Corpus Christi has long been a favorite of mine, not only because of what we celebrate but also how we celebrate.
At my parish the Feast of Corpus Christi Mass ends with a Eucharistic procession around the church. The main celebrant carries the monstrance through the aisles under a canopy held by the ushers. They are led by the altar servers, two with candles and one with incense, and are followed by the other priests. “Humbly Let Us Voice Our Homage” is sung with great reverence by the choir and congregation. The intense and weighty lines of the hymn reflect the beauty of our belief: “What our senses fail to fathom, let us grasp through faith’s consent.” The Divine Praises are prayed, another hymn is sung and benediction concludes the procession.
After that, we take to the streets in a diocesan wide procession sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. We begin at a local church and process through the streets of the city to another church. The start and end locations change each year, allowing various parishes the opportunity to host. That also means the length of the procession and the terrain differs from year to year.
There are even more priests at the diocesan procession who take turns carrying the monstrance as we wind our way through neighborhood after neighborhood. Behind them, people walk in clusters. Some pray the rosary together, while others sing hymns of praise and adoration. It is a peaceful, solemn time that opens one’s mind to the mysteries of our faith.
Residents of the neighborhoods often times stand on their porches and front lawns trying to figure out what the “parade” is for. If they ask, someone will stop and briefly explain the purpose of our walk. Little do the onlookers know that they, their homes and neighborhoods are being flooded with graces.
Once we reach our destination, the procession ends the same way as earlier in the day: with incense, the Divine Praises and Benediction. Of course there is time for fellowship and refreshments afterward, allowing the participating parishes an opportunity to meet and share with each other.
I love being able to celebrate a Catholic feast day in such a… well, Catholic way. Processions are a great tradition. I know they take work, organization and planning, but I wish we celebrated more feasts and holy days like that. Public processions would give both Catholics and non-Catholics the opportunity to contemplate divine mysteries. I’m not saying we should process as a way to flaunt our faith, but we shouldn’t be afraid to be a Catholic presence in our communities. How we celebrate should reflect what we celebrate and vice versa, which is why solemn processions are wonderful ways to celebrate the truth, goodness and holiness of the universal Church.
*Note: I didn’t make it to the procession this year on account of my Goddaughter’s baptism. These photos are from two years ago: St. Isidore to Sts. Peter & Paul.