Monday, June 11, 2012

Eucharistic Processions (Part I)

 On Thursday evening the Holy Father celebrated the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) in front of his cathedral, St. John Lateran. It was a perfect day for an outdoor Mass. The sun was setting and there was a pleasant breeze. 

As usual the Pope's homily was fantastic. The main theme of his homily was to re-emphasize the intrinsic connection between the celebration of Holy Mass with Eucharistic Adoration. There is no incongruence. One part struck me, and I'd like to share it with you all:

"To be all together in prolonged silence before the Lord present in his Sacrament, is one of the most genuine experiences of our being Church, which is accompanied in a complementary way with the celebration of the Eucharist, listening to the Word of God, singing, approaching together the table of the Bread of life. Communion and contemplation cannot be separated, they go together. To really communicate with another person I must know him, I must be able to be in silence close to him, to hear him and to look at him with love. True love and true friendship always live of the reciprocity of looks, of intense, eloquent silences full of respect and veneration, so that the encounter is lived profoundly, in a personal not a superficial way."  - Homily of Pope Benedict XVI 'Corpus Christi' 2012 [Translation by ZENIT]

After Mass there was a procession with the Blessed Sacrament from St. John Lateran to St. Mary Major (about a 25 minute walk). By that time it was already dark so we were given candles to carry in the procession. There were thousands of people in the procession. The processional cross was followed by hundreds of women and men religious, then the seminarians, then the deacons, priests, bishops and cardinals, then the Holy Father on a custom built GMC truck which allowed him to kneel before the Blessed Sacrament, and finally thousands of the faithful following behind. They had strung up speakers along the whole route so that we all could listen to scripture readings and sing hymns together the whole way. The people of Rome lined the street to quietly await Jesus's arrival in front of their homes and businesses. I even saw people peering down to the street below from their apartment windows, which they had decorated with banners and bed sheets. The atmosphere was electric with the joy, festivity and prayer of the people gathered to adore Jesus. It just makes sense... if everything we believe about the Eucharist is true then how could we not but follow Jesus through the streets.

I love these diocesan events because now I'm beginning to recognize so many faces. I ran into several different groups of friends and acquaintances before and after Mass. Gathering at Rome's cathedral reminded me of gathering at Gaylord's cathedral for big events. It is like one big family reunion.