His Excellency Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki; Ars celebrandi et adorandi
On the Art of Celebrating the Eucharistic Liturgy
The art of celebrating the liturgy properly and adoring the Lord in the Eucharist devoutly (ars celebrandi et adorandi) is the key to fostering the active participation of the People of God in divine worship. (Part 3 of series)
Processions with the Blessed Sacrament
33. As a young boy, it was the custom in my home parish of Saint Casimir to have an Easter sunrise Mass at 5:30 a.m. which included a solemn procession of the Blessed Sacrament around the church. At the parish where I served as Pastor on the northwest side of Chicago, Saint Constance Parish, this custom was observed with a standing room only crowd of over a thousand people overflowing the church at daybreak on Easter morning. On the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), our procession with the Blessed Sacrament carried by the priest in the monstrance went around the block of our parish grounds, with stops at four altars set up by the faithful for Benediction.
34. Pope Benedict XVI spoke eloquently about the meaning of the Corpus Christi procession for contemporary Catholics in his homilies for the feast. The procession is a profession of faith: the Solemnity of Corpus Christi developed at a time when Catholics were both affirming and defining their faith “in Jesus Christ, alive and truly present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist,” and the procession is a public statement of that belief. The sacrament of the Lord’s Body and Blood always “goes above and beyond the walls of our churches.” The procession blurs the separation between what we do inside the church, and what we do outside: we immerse Christ, so to speak, “in the daily routine of our lives, so that he may walk where we walk and live where we live.” Pope Benedict declared, “The procession represents an immense and public blessing for our city.”19
35. The Code of Canon Law encourages liturgical processions outside the church, “When it can be done in the judgment of the diocesan bishop, as a public witness of the veneration toward the Most Holy Eucharist, a procession is to be conducted through the public streets, especially on the solemnity of the Body and the Blood of Christ.”20 The leading of processions outside the church is among the specific liturgical functions especially entrusted to the pastor.21
36. I highly encourage and give permission for pastors to conduct processions with the Blessed Sacrament through the public streets, especially on the solemnity of the Body and the Blood of Christ, as a witness to our faith in the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist and as an expression of our belief that God is in our midst even in our everyday lives. Suitable arrangements are to be made with public authorities and local law enforcement officials for the safety of the participants.