Today I participated in my first Corpus Christi Procession. In the 12 years I have been back in the Catholic Church, it has just never worked out for us to be there. So, today, after a Mass filled with music, we processed out of the church, into our parish’s back parking lot to the first altar, through the parking lot, along the sidewalk, up onto the grass in front our Our Lady’s Grotto to the second altar and finally back in the front doors of the church. Young girls in their white First Holy Communion gowns acted as flower girls dropping flower petals of various hues on the pathway, just as I imagine those palm branches were laid out in Jerusalem so long ago. The children’s choir sang in English and Latin as the Thurifer Bearer walked all that way backward in front of the Blessed Sacrament, held by Father, under a canopy carried by four more altar servers. The Knights of Columbus in their plumed hats and majestic capes added pomp to the event. The faithful followed, singing Tatum Ergo at each altar while kneeling, first on the asphalt of the parking lot, then on the lush green grass, and finally on the familiar kneelers of the church. Kneeling on bare knees on asphalt is painful. Nearly unbearably so. But it brought to mind the pain that Christ endured for us; His scourging, his long trek under the weight of His Cross and finally His Death. And I prayed, “Lord, I understand that the pain I feel know is nothing compared to the pain our collective sin has caused you, but if my pain now can lessen yours, make it so.”
The entire event was a beautiful profession of the central element of our Catholic Faith. Jesus, True God and True Man, humbled himself to take on the appearances of bread and wine, to nourish us with His Own Holy Body and Precious Blood. Can we ever truly understand that mystery? Can we ever really respond with the appropriate amount of gratitude to Our Lord and Savior for this tremendous gift? Can human responses to Him and His Abundant Grace ever be sufficient? No. Not really. But God understands this and He appreciates our attempts.
After the festivities, I sat quietly in the church for a few moments contemplating my own relationship with Our Lord in the Blessed Eucharist. I realize it is the Thing that pulled me back into the church, after five years away, was, in fact, not a thing, but a person. Our Lord in the Eucharist. My husband accuses me of being shallow for the moment of sadness that overcame me when, while raising our first born daughter within the Lutheran Faith of my husband’s childhood, I realized she would never have a First Communion Dress. But, really, the dress is simply a symbol for me of what she would really have been missing out on. And in that moment, Jesus, called out to me from the Blessed Sacrament and reminded me of the special relationship He had been cultivating with me since my own First Communion Day.
I do not always do the best job of nurturing my relationship with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Sometimes I am preoccupied with the cares and worries of this world as I sit with Him. But I have to believe that He appreciates my efforts and that someday, with His Grace, I will get it right.