Reflections on 2023 Eucharistic Procession
Reflections on Eucharistic Procession 2023
Photos: Ivan Rendulic
Walking with God
By Vladimir Simunic
Two thousand years ago, 12 disciples walked the streets of Jerusalem and surrounding area, following Jesus in faith. Last week we were blessed to have done similarly. On June 25th our parish community of St. Nicholas Tavelich joined together for the 1st annual Eucharistic Procession celebrating the feast of Corpus Christi. Over 70 parishioners, celebrated on their walk in our local neighbourhood, publicly bearing witness to their faith and venerating the most Holy Eucharist – Jesus Christ. Led by our very own Father Peter Nemcek, multiple volunteers came together to help make this beautiful celebration happen. Pope Benedict XVI once said in a homily, “It was born for the very precise purpose of openly reaffirming the faith of the people of God in Jesus Christ, alive and truly present in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist. It is a feast that was established to publicly adore, praise, and thank the Lord, who continues ‘to love us to the end,’ even to offering us his body and his blood.” Many parishioners stated afterwards how overjoyed they felt, not only for themselves, but for people in public who were seen starting to pray, take pictures or simply be drawn in to adore the Eucharist. Many thanks to the multiple volunteers who helped organize and run the event and fellowship lunch afterwards.
Eucharistic Procession a Public Affirmation of Faith and Trust in the Real Presence
It was a profound honour and privilege to participate in the Eucharistic Procession led by Fr Peter of St Nicholas Tavelich Parish in the streets of Winnipeg last Sunday, June 25th. This centuries-old tradition of the Catholic faith to process the Real Presence of Jesus – the Eucharist – is a public affirmation of faith and trust in the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus. Recognizing the history behind Corpus Christi Processions, it was important to me to encourage my family to participate for the first time.
With my kids at my side and my husband carrying the canopy (under which the priest carried the Monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament), my heart delighted in the Lord’s call to bring us to this moment. I will forever cherish those moments in my heart. There are so many reasons why that procession was particularly poignant for me.
First was the opportunity to exercise our religious freedom in a very public setting. I’ve been discussing with my kids the increasing erosion of religious freedoms around the world.
So, this opportunity was quite well timed. Just prior to this event, I read that day’s gospel reading from Matthew 10:32-33.
“Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. 33 But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father” (Mt 10:32). So, I explained to my kids the importance of standing for Jesus whenever the opportunity occurs!
Secondly, the formality and pomp rendered this a moving experience for me. Everything from the priest’s special vestments, the canopy held above to protect the Blessed Sacrament, the holding up high of the crucifix, the bells, the first communion girls tossing rose petals along the path, the slow-paced walk and hymn singing, and the earnest prayers rendered a very solemn and reverent atmosphere that moved me to the core. There were members of the public who stopped what they were doing to just watch, likely in curiosity, and hopefully deep down in their soul, recognizing that someone important was passing by (i.e., Jesus).
There were three altars set up along the way where we stopped to listen to God’s word and took a moment to adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. The crowd, many kneeling in silence, and others standing with bowed heads, demonstrated true reverence to the reality of the Real Presence of Jesus’ body blood soul and divinity, and this elevated my soul. It was such a stark contrast to the hustle and noise of the traffic around us along Main Street hearing people going about their business as usual.
Walking together and singing hymns the rest of the time was very prayerful and I started to imagine that I was walking through an ancient Croatian town in an earlier century, where the procession would have traversed through the entire town with folks kneeling or bowing to the Real Presence as it passed by their home.
“Communion and Adoration are Indivisibly One”
On Sunday, June 25, fellow parishioners and faithful from neighboring parishes participated in the first annual eucharistic procession organized by St. Nicholas Tavelich parish. The procession passed through the neighbouring residential community. Four stations along the procession route facilitated adoration as well as reflection on selected scripture readings from each of the Canonical gospels – St. John (6:47-51), St. Mark (6:34, 39-44), St. Matthew (26:26-29), and St. Luke (24:28-35). All the readings shared an overall eucharistic theme.
Last Sunday was the first time I participated in a eucharistic procession. The readings, prayers, adoration, the use of the canopy and incense, along with the beautiful Croatian hymns fostered a sense of mystery and reverence. What struck me was how the presence of Jesus brought us together. As we processed through the surrounding neighbourhood, Jesus went with us and was near us. Jesus cannot be continuously kept in the tabernacle. Pope Benedict XVI once wrote, “[only] within the breathing space of adoration, can the Eucharistic celebration indeed be alive; only if the church, and thus the whole congregation, is constantly imbued with the waiting presence of the Lord, and with our silent readiness to respond, can the invitation to come together bring us into the hospitality of Jesus Christ and of the Church, which is the precondition of the invitation.” During the procession we were also partaking in both communion and adoration because, as Benedict observed, “communion and adoration are indivisibly one.”
Another aspect of the procession was the opportunity for evangelization. A Eucharistic procession may spark curiosity and interest in the mystery of God. We hope last Sunday’s event and those in the future will lead to conversion, and to communion and salvation.
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