Corpus Christi celebration at St. Lawrence reaffirms faith in the Eucharist
Archbishop George J. Lucas joined members of St. Lawrence Parish June 18 as they celebrated Mass for the Feast of Corpus Christi and processed with the Eucharist through the streets of Scribner, giving public witness to their faith.
It was the archbishop’s second Corpus Christi event in rural Nebraska that weekend. On June 17, he celebrated Mass and led the procession at St. Rose of Lima Parish in neighboring Hooper.
Father Damien Wee, pastor of the two parishes, said he introduced the practice of annual Corpus Christi processions at both parishes “with the help of the Holy Spirit” five years ago, shortly after being assigned there. He got the idea from the large annual Corpus Christi procession at St. Peter’ s Church in Omaha, which he attended for a number of years during two previous assignments at parishes in the area.
In his homily at St. Lawrence, Archbishop Lucas said people can develop romantic notions of what it was like to be a resident of one of the small towns that Jesus visited during his public ministry 2,000 years ago, encountering him in his humanity.
But an even greater privilege can be enjoyed today, he said, because “we know when we come together for Mass, Jesus himself becomes present for us, right in our time and place.”
First, Jesus speaks to us in the Scriptures, he said. He tells us “something we really need to hear, on the day that we’re hearing it – something that’s important for our spiritual journey.”
Then, “through the power of the Holy Spirit, whenever the priest repeats the words that Jesus first spoke at the Last Supper, he himself becomes for us really present, personally present, the risen Son of God on the altar,” the archbishop said.
“He’s even closer to us because he gives himself to us as he promised, as our spiritual food and drink in the Eucharist. Under the appearance of bread and wine, he gives himself to us and becomes part of us. We become part of him,” he said.
After Mass, the archbishop carried the monstrance holding the Blessed Sacrament under a canopy, followed by the congregation. Preceded by altar servers and the Knights of Columbus, the group stopped at two temporary altars in their seven-block march through the neighborhood, to pray and receive the archbishop’s blessing. The procession ended with Benediction, back in the church.
The procession is an event that allows Jesus to act powerfully, Father Wee said after the gathering. “Our job is to bring him out into the streets and ... allow him to touch our hearts,” he said.
After the procession at St. Rose of Lima one year, “one of our parishioner’s friends told her that when she saw us coming out into the streets with the canopy with Jesus, she was moved to tears. … And this was a non-Catholic,” Father Wee said.
Ryan Reeson, a member of St. Lawrence Parish who led the singing for the Mass and procession, said the Corpus Christi procession brings people “back to the center of the faith: the Eucharist, Jesus.”
“I like the procession because I’m not one to be bashful about the faith,” he said.