Sunday, June 2, 2013

Corpus Christi Procession at St. Martin's

Today, I served at the 10:00 Mass for Corpus Christi in the Ordinary Form, and then turned around to serve  the Missa Cantata for the External Solemnity of Corpus Christi in the usus antiquior. Fr. Beach scheduled a procession of the Most Blessed Sacrament following a short period of Adoration after the Mass.

It was beautiful. In fact, it might have been the most beautiful and wonderful liturgical experience I have had in my three years serving at St. Martin of Tours.

Six or seven boys from the 10:00 stayed and carried torches, while the rest of the servers from the TLM carried banners, the crucifix, or just processed along. I was one of the two thurifers. Four fourth-degree Knights of Columbus carried the canopy in their ceremonial dress. The choir followed and chanted the whole way. We processed to the back of the church, and then Fr. Beach gave Benediction at an outdoor altar. Then, we processed around the front of the church (front being the apse and sacristy) and all the way around the block; we came back up to a second side altar where he blessed us once more. Finally, we came down to enter the church through the nave, where Father blessed us a third time and reposed the Blessed Sacrament in the usual manner. Yes, I know it's complicated. An aerial view of the church and surrounding area might help. Sorry!

Truly, I say it was beautiful and wonderful. First at both Masses, the Sequence-Lauda Sion Salvatorem- composed by St. Thomas Aquinas lifted me towards Heaven and the noise of the world was gone save the air-conditioning unit's fan. The chant, the hand bells, and the church spire bells drowned out everything except an ambulance siren. The sacred overpowered my temporal reality: this should not be happening. It is twenty-first century America, not thirteenth-century Italy. We are worshiping a man who died in A.D. 33, and who said that his sacrifice would be represented forever. It just is.

The bells and clinking of the censer chain are the only sound during Benediction, and it is quite impressive when an entire church sings 'Holy God, We Praise Thy Name' to conclude the rite. The contrast of sound and silence, a combination which directs us towards Love has no words that can truly describe it. It is sacred. Perhaps only the Word Himself can give the fullness of the experience.

I am so, so very happy that many people stayed, people who normally attend the Novus Ordo. It was a fantastic pastoral move on the part of Fr. Beach to openly welcome 10:00 families and servers to the procession. We probably had about 200 people. Figure 120 people or so attend the 12:00 Mass, and 80 people or more came back from the 10:00.

Of course, it represents what I love about serving here the most: everything falls into place. I was thurifer only because I didn't have something, and the server originally doing it wound up with something. (My hands smelled great! Thanks Father for the new incense!) We threw everybody together in fifteen minutes or so. The pace was perfect. In fact, I hurt most when I had to catch up after re-charging the censer. I was hot, tired, and impatient, but everything went smoothly. Tout est grâce.  

The rest of the photos may be viewed on Flickr!! I will post them to Facebook as well, so I can tag people and places, and so people can share them with family!

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