Monday, February 2, 2009

Why Have a Eucharistic Procession?

Before we talk more about the mechanics of having a Eucharistic procession, let's back up for a moment and look at why have one in the first place.

Here are my top 6 reasons for having a Eucharistic procession:

  1. It reminds us that the Eucharist is the "source and summit of the Christian life." This comes from Vatican II's Lumen Gentium (The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church), no. 11. Our lives as Christians flow from the grace provided by Christ in the Eucharist, and the Eucharistic celebration of the Mass is the highest expression of our Christian lives on earth because it prefigures the wedding banquet of the Lamb in heaven as described in the Book of Revelation.
  2. It enhances our belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Vatican II's Sacrosanctum Concilium (Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy) gives four modes of Christ's presence: a) the priest acting in persona Christi, b) the Eucharist, c) Scripture, and d) the assembly of the faithful (no. 7). While Jesus is actually present in all these modes, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (no. 1374) reminds us that "The mode of Christ's presence under the Eucharistic species is unique" because, quoting the Council of Trent, there "the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained."
  3. It emphasizes that we are not simply a community of like-minded people, like the Rotary Club, but we are quite specifically a Eucharistic community. The Eucharist brings us closer as a parish, monastery, convent, religious organization, etc. As in a wheel, the Eucharist is the hub and we are spokes.
  4. It promotes a Catholic culture. As Catholics, our faith should be on view in the world, not hidden under a bushel basket. Our faith has sacraments, sacramentals, liturgies, rituals, devotions, etc. which mark us, which consecrate us, which set us apart. The more distinct we are from everyday life, the more attractive Christ's message will be to others. We are to be in the world, but not of the world. In addition, a vibrant Catholic culture nourishes the spiritual life of Catholics and keeps them Catholic, because they see why they should be Catholic.
  5. It evangelizes others. When people see a priest holding the monstrance containing the Eucharist followed by a stream of the faithful, those bystanders take notice. They know something different is happening. They may have no clue as to what that something is. They may be indifferent to it, or they may deride it. But for at least a moment they have seen it. And because the Eucharist is Christ, we also believe that his mere presence can in his good time change the lives of those who are unconscious of his presence.
  6. It is an important means of praying for vocations. Without priests, there is no Eucharist.

To be sure, there are other reasons for holding a Eucharistic procession. But these will do for now.

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