One Way or Another, We Can Still Have Corpus Christi Processions

Celebrating Corpus Christi can still happen this year despite the health worries. With last-minute Eucharistic procession or, if not possible, another powerful way

(photo: David Eucaristía/Pixabay/CC0)

Corpus Christi processions in parishes were starting to make a comeback until the coronavirus situation hampered even some of those that were already being held. But this seems hardly the time to halt them, what with the tremendous spiritual battle going on, the current heath crisis, and the violence in society.

That’s why Mother of Mercy Messengers and Divine Mercy for America are among the apostolates doing everything they can to encourage Eucharistic processions and taking part in them.

The processions bring great reminders. First, we should always and everywhere honor the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Second, as the very foundation in these days when so many Catholics don’t believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in Eucharist, we should see this as a public witness of our belief in the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

Dave and Joan Maroney, founders of both the Mother of Mercy Messengers, associated with the Marian Fathers at the National Shrine of Divine Mercy, and Divine Mercy for America, were speaking right after Pentecost with others in a coalition of Eucharistic and Marian apostolates and realized the need to combat the evil.

Joan points out they went to St. Faustina’s Diary where Jesus “gave her very explicit ways on how to pray for her country and how to bring mercy upon the world and to bring healing and reconciliation.”

Joan explains that the latest situation of “people inciting other people, peaceful protestors that had a right to be out there to express their sorrow, their worries, their concerns” has “been taken over by evil to destroy innocent people's homes and businesses and hurt people and live in fear.”

But a glance at the calendar made something stand out — the upcoming feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ, a celebration in the Church since the mid-13th century. Processions of the Eucharistic Jesus in the monstrance often highlighted the feast as the priest or deacon walked around the church, the community, the people with the Body and Blood of Jesus in solemn procession.

After all this violence we should “take Christ into the streets,” she said. The feast is “already on the [liturgical] calendar. We just need to do it, just follow what our Church teaches. If do that, think of the blessings that would come down and the conversions that would happen.  We have to. People are so tried living in fear. Here’s an opportunity to show people there’s something good, something holy, that’s happening. It will refresh people, and heal people and restore people. And there are way far more good people than bad.”

Dave explains that we’ve been locked down but it’s time “to get out to get out in the streets, to get out in the sun…observe the appropriate protocols. We want to make sure that we're doing that. It can be done.” Arrange it with your pastor. Tell your bishop “We need to have a procession; we need to get Jesus out there. He will bring peace and healing.”

Even modified Eucharistic processions on Corpus Christi are possible. New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond will lead a Eucharistic procession on the Feast of Corpus Christi, right after 11 am Mass at St. Louis Cathedral. It won’t be like the past Eucharistic processions. This time it’s being called a simple “walk with Jesus” around Jackson Square to pray for the community and the world. The procession will conclude with Benediction in front of St. Louis Cathedral.

“We’re trying to respectful of the city guidelines and state guidelines, but at the same time trying to be creative so that we can have this at a time when it is probably needed more than ever,” said Betty-Ann Hickey, associate director of the  archdiocese's office of worship.

Naturally, some churches are having their annual Corpus Christi Procession. This Corpus Christi Sunday like St. Stephen Church in Good Shepherd Parish in New Orleans will have their annual procession that was established by Msgr. Christopher Nalty when he became the pastor 11 years ago. An average of 400 people attend, although some of the elderly might not be there this year.

“Only one year we had to do it inside our parish,” Msgr. Nalty said, due to weather. Otherwise the procession varies. “We do it inside our entire parish plant” which covers one square block. Another time it went from St. Stephen’s to all three churches that make up Good Shepherd Parish.

“Implore your bishop and ask your priest,” Joan added. Every diocese should have a Eucharistic procession or Eucharistic adoration going on in churches. Local parishes can process through their neighborhood.

“Bring Jesus out,” she affirms. “If we want things to change we have to have faith in God… He wants to go out and touch the people.”


Time Short, What Now?

Yes, processions take some planning. But they can be a last-minute minimum. But it didn’t take lots of planning for St. Clare to see the Saracens who were attacking San Damiano scatter and flee when she prayed before Our Eucharistic Lord asking him for help. Couldn’t even a Eucharistic procession on very short notice, if the pastor agrees, put the violence here to flight?

So what if that doesn’t take place? Then how about the example of Pope Gregory I, better known as St. Gregory the Great? In 591 when the plague was more than decimating Rome, Gregory had in the city, as an abbot then wrote, “the picture of Our Lady, which was painted by St. Luke, carried in procession [and] the plague ceased at Rome.”

How does this fit for Corpus Christi Sunday if a Eucharistic procession can’t or won’t be organized?

“We need to do everything we can to have public witness of our faith,” Joan said. We need to be visible. We as laity can take Jesus out there. “Get out there with the rosary and the image of Jesus and be a public witness for the Lord.”

The Maroneys remind that we also have the image of the Divine Mercy. “Jesus said, I want everyone to have access to this image no one to be excluded.” They remind that the very first time it was venerated on the first Sunday after Easter St. Faustina saw the image come alive and the rays from Jesus’ heart go out and touch the hearts of all the people.

If this has to be the short-time answer for Corpus Christi Sunday, then by taking this image on the prayer walk, Joan explains that this is an opportunity for those who look upon the image for the Lord to pour His grace out to touch their hearts, to convert them, to smash the evil, to melt their hearts, and to protect the land.

And if you can’t get something done in your diocese or parish? The Maroneys note that “even if you can't get something done in your diocese or you can't get to something done in your parish, we're encouraging all of you gather with your prayer groups gather with your families” and walk around your park, around your parish.

And the Maroneys are encouraging everyone to say the Chaplet of Divine Mercy too, noting that within it is the prayer: Eternal Father, I offer you the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. “And this is what we're celebrating — the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ — on the feast of Corpus Christi,” notes Joan. It's a beautiful prayer for a continuous outpouring of God's grace with triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

And then don’t stop. Get out with your rosaries, let “people see that rosary dangling, get out in the sunshine, don't be afraid. Pray.” For your governors, the President, for all that are working to do good. “Pray for our Church, our priests. Pray for the sick. Pray for the end of these pandemics, all the viruses that are plaguing us.”

The Maroneys also remind that right after the feast of Corpus Christi comes — on Friday and Saturday, June 19-20, the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. “If you can't do something for the feast of Corpus Christi just because of what’s going on, we have the next weekend.”

Then look ahead to the August feasts of the Assumption and the Queenship of Mary.

“We are going to win this battle,” Joan affirms. “But in the meantime we need to try to save souls and need to minimize the losses… All we need to do is put our trust in Jesus. Live our liturgical calendars. Live our faith. Have trust in God. Trust in his mother.” And start now — by celebrating the feast of Corpus Christi.