Sunday, June 26, 2011

Jesus is carried through the streets of Chicago

Today is the feast of the Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. This beautiful feast commemorates the Real Presence of the Lord Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist, and has been celebrated since the 13th century to honor Jesus and the truth of the Eucharist taught by the Apostles since the first century of Christianity.

In my parish, St. Mary of the Angels in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood, we hold a Eucharistic procession after Mass. It's simple but beautiful, today no less than ever.

Altar boys in scarlet cassocks, with incense and bells, lead the way down the middle of the street. Little girls in white dresses strew rose petals behind them. Priests and the deacon take turns carrying a 'monstrance' -a transparent vessel for viewing a consecrated Host- containing the Lord Jesus through the streets of the neighborhood. Four men carry a golden canopy on poles to shelter the monstrance from the sun. Following them are hundreds of faithful singing hymns praising our Lord and King. It's quite a spectacle.

We circle the block, stopping once on each side at temporary altars decorated with flowers and an image of Our Lord or His Blessed Mother. There a priest or deacon reads from the Holy Scriptures something about the great gift of the Eucharist which Jesus has given us. He then offers a few of his own thoughts, and we pray together. Then we continue to the next altar.

Along the way I pick up a rose petal to keep pressed in my missal. I've kept a few from previous years. They've lost their scent, but not their meaning.

Down in adoration falling,
Lo, the sacred Host we hail;
Lo, o'er ancient forms departing
Newer rites of grace prevail;Faith for all defects supplying
Where the feeble senses fail.

Fr. Ferrer carries the monstrance, while Deacon Tyluki walks nearby.

Adoro te devote, latens Deitas,
Quæ sub his figuris vere latitas;
Tibi se cor meum totum subjicit,
Quia te contemplans totum deficit.

I devoutly adore you, O hidden Deity,
Truly hidden beneath these appearances.
My whole heart submits to you,
And in contemplating you,
It surrenders itself completely.

It looks like a monstrance containing bread, but it's not. It's a monstrance containing the Lord Jesus Christ.

Visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur,
Sed auditu solo tuto creditur.
Credo quidquid dixit Dei Filius;
Nil hoc verbo veritátis verius.

Sight, touch, taste are all deceived
In their judgment of you,
But hearing suffices firmly to believe.
I believe all that the Son of God has spoken;
There is nothing truer than this word of truth.

Deacon Tyluki takes his turn carrying the Lord Jesus.

Jesu, quem velatum nunc aspicio,
Oro, fiat illud quod tam sitio:
Ut te revelata cernens facie,
Visu sim beátus tuæ gloriæ. Amen.
Jesu, whom now veiled, I by faith descry,
What my soul doth thirst for, do not, Lord, deny,
That thy face unveiled, I at last may see,
With the blissful vision blest, my God, of Thee. Amen.

Altar servers and an usher carrying a ceremonial 'mace' lead the way around the corner.

To the everlasting Father,
And the Son Who reigns on high
With the Holy Ghost proceeding
Forth from Each eternally,
Be salvation, honor, blessing,
Might and endless majesty.

When we've completed our circuit around the block, we leave the blinding June sunlight of Hermitage Avenue and, singing, proceed up the steps into the entrance of the church. At first the church seems almost too dark to make our way ...but our senses do not always detect what is really present! In the church we have only a few more moments of prayer with Jesus present before us.

Holy feast of Corpus Christ, remain in our memory! Lord Jesus, may we never be separated from You! Live in our hearts forever!

May the Heart of Jesus in the most Blessed Sacrament be praised, adored, and loved with grateful affection at every moment in all the tabernacles of the world, now and until the end of time. Amen.