On Corpus Christi, 5 Things You Might Not Know about Processions
Do you know why there are banners for processions?
how about the children being up front?
and why do they go outside in open air?
I love the Bellarmine Forum Catechism Explained that is on our site because it has the answers to questions like these and it makes the Faith we share all the more lovable. An article therein describes processions.
Processions began when the Ark of the Covenant was paraded. But Palm Sunday was yet another procession.
Processions are intended to portray that we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one to come (Heb. xiii. 14).
Processions teach that the Catholic Church is necessary for salvation.
The procession issues (proceeds, hence the name procession) from the church and returns thither, to show that we must enter the Church on earth if we would reach the Church in heaven.
Processions teach that you must take up your cross.
The cross is carried first, because in this life we can never be wholly free from crosses and sufferings, if we follow the maxims of Our Lord.
The Banners of a Procession Remind that we are the Church Militant.
The banners are to remind us that we are warriors, because here below we have constantly to contend against the malignant foe and our own evil proclivities.
Processions are Two-by-two as Our Lord told us.
Those who walk in the procession go two and two, to signify the twofold precept of charity, especially that of charity to our neighbor. It is also a reminder that Our Lord sent the disciples out in twos. And that “where two are gathered…”
Children First, as they enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and we Must Become like them
The children take the lead, because their greater innocence renders them more pleasing to God; the adults follow, first the men, with the priest in their midst, and finally the women. Processions, if possible, are held in the open air.
Meant to Impress the Non-Believer
Although the Council of Trent said that they are there to “confound the heretic”, it follows from the Catechism that “This solemn ceremony, which is generally terminated by the Te Deum in the church, cannot fail to impress every beholder, and lead the non-Catholic to inquire what it is towards which such profound reverence and veneration is displayed.”
HISTORY OF CORPUS CHRISTI PROCESSIONS
When the Blessed Sacrament is carried to one or more altars of repose, to testify publicly our faith in the presence of Our Lord in the Adorable Sacrament of the Altar.
The festival of Corpus Christi (the body of Christ) is on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday, consequently in the second week after Pentecost, because soon after the descent of the Holy Ghost the apostles began to dispense holy communion to the faithful.
Founded in 1250. This festival was instituted some six centuries ago. It was first celebrated in Belgium, by order of the Bishop of Liege, in consequence of a revelation made to a nun, Blessed Juliana (1250), and shortly after Pope Urban IV. decreed that it should be kept throughout the whole Church. In this procession the sacred Host is carried in a monstrance beneath a canopy, flowers are strewn on the way, and censers swung; the altars of repose are beautifully decorated with lights and flowers in honor of the Blessed Sacrament.
Four Corners of the World. In some places four altars are erected, and a pause is made at each, and one of the accounts of the institution of the Blessed Sacrament given by the four Evangelists is read. The four altars signify the four quarters of the world. After the reading of the Gospel, a prayer is added for protection against lightning and tempest, and for a good harvest.
Sing the Te Deum. This solemn ceremony, which is generally terminated by the Te Deum in the church, cannot fail to impress every beholder, and lead the non-Catholic to inquire what it is towards which such profound reverence and veneration is displayed.
Does your parish have a procession? Will you participate in it or a nearby one?
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