Archbishop Christian Lepine led thousands of the faithful through the streets of Montreal last night in this year’s annual Corpus Christi eucharistic procession.
The feast of the body and blood of Christ began with a Mass at Cathédrale Marie- Reine-du-Monde and ended four hours later after benediction at St. Patrick’s Basilica.
In his homily, Archbishop Lepine told an overflow congregation in the Cathedral that it takes courage to publicly witness our faith in the Blessed Sacrament. He challenged the faithful to ask themselves how they organize their lives in front of Jesus, and reminded them that Christian life is not only about solitary prayer but equally about loving service to neighbor and community. (Source)
It’s a glorious thing to see an Apostle of the Church processing our Eucharistic Lord through the streets.
We had a procession at my parish too. It was beautiful. About 100 people took part. Even though I was having a crappy weekend, I got a definite boost by the experience. I felt like I was back in Palestine 2,000 years ago, when Jesus would walk from town to town and his disciples would eagerly follow him, proud to be part of his posse.
Surprised onlookers were stopping to take a peek. There’s one scruffy looking guy who dropped down on his knees and put his forehead on the sidewalk when the Blessed Sacrament passed in front of him. Unbelievable. Other people did a sign of the cross. This confirms what I have long suspected: there are so many fallen away Catholics out there. You probably meet them every day at work, at the grocery store, at the gym. They just need a nudge.
The other thing that struck me was just how different this is from other major religions, even the other Christian denominations. We’re literally worshiping a tangible and visible object (in actuality a person under the guise of Bread), like the heathens would do with statues or animals. To an outsider, our procession would definitely appear like a religious act, a very primitive one, like you see in the movies about African tribes or something. Other major religions and Christian denominations worship a somewhat disembodied God that you can’t touch or see. Catholics are unique in recognizing how God wished to remain visibly and tangibly present to us. The Blessed Sacrament stands as a special challenge to the modern world. It’s easier to dismiss a God that nobody can see as a figment of someone’s delusions. But when the largest religion in the world starts processing a piece of Bread with great solemnity and devotion, you have to take notice and confront yourself with this disturbing reality. Gut check time.
I sincerely believe that processions of the Blessed Sacrament shower down graces upon our neighbourhoods in ways that would baffle the learned. We should do this more often.