Corpus Christi takes Jesus to the world

Archbishop Richard Smith carries the Blessed Sacrament down a residential street during the June 22 Corpus Christi procession.

WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER

Archbishop Richard Smith carries the Blessed Sacrament down a residential street during the June 22 Corpus Christi procession.

July 7, 2014
CHRIS MILLER
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Patients at the Edmonton General Hospital, young people moving out of their apartment, women sunbathing and teenagers tossing a Frisbee in the park all stopped what they were doing to watch the outdoor Corpus Christi procession June 22.

The procession through parts of downtown Edmonton, featured the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament exposed, not only to faithful Catholics, but to the whole world.

Times of special prayer took place at four stations on the procession route, including this one at St. Joachim Church.

WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER

Times of special prayer took place at four stations on the procession route, including this one at St. Joachim Church.

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is a time when Catholics show their love for Jesus by honouring him in a public way.

The procession was an outward demonstration of Catholic belief in the real presence of the risen Christ under the appearance of the Consecrated Host. The Body of Christ was paraded down city streets in a monstrance, protected under a special canopy, while those in the procession sang hymns.

"It's a wonderful way we can show love for our neighbours by bringing Our Lord closer to them," said Heather Delroy, who has attended Corpus Christi processions in Edmonton and elsewhere, looking forward to them every year.

"The procession is a fantastic way of making our faith public," said Susan Kerr, thankful for the frequent stops and sunny sky. She was concerned that her feet might get sore or that the weather might be poor. "But everything went perfectly."

While visiting a junior high school in Edmonton recently, Archbishop Richard Smith said he asked the students what was going on in their lives.

To his astonishment, they revealed that many of their friends suffer from depression. The students shared that insults and bullying occur via Facebook and phone texts, or that they have difficulties at home or in school.

"We are living in a land of plenty, with many resources. You don't have to scratch very deeply beneath the surface of the human heart to find that amidst our many resources is a desert, a wilderness, a spiritual wasteland," said Smith.

Several people carried banners praising Christ's presence in the Eucharist

WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER

Several people carried banners praising Christ's presence in the Eucharist

Many people today, even Grade 8 students, are not finding the joy and peace they seek. For the archbishop, this spiritual wasteland emphasizes the importance of the Corpus Christi procession – taking the Blessed Sacrament, the true presence of Jesus, into the streets.

The procession followed the 12:15 p.m. Mass at St. Joseph's Basilica. It included stops at four prayer stations: Edmonton General Hospital, St. Joachim Church, Ezio Faraone Park and Grandin School. Temporary altars, decorated with greenery and flowers, were set up at each station.

JESUS SATISFIES HUNGER

"We step into this desert with a message, the message that there need not be this deep spiritual hunger," said Smith. Why? Because Jesus gives himself as bread, as nourishment, to satisfy the world's spiritual hunger.

Smith spoke of the reading from Deuteronomy in which Moses reminds people how God provided food and water for those wandering in the desert. This foreshadowed what God would do in a wondrous way through the gift of Jesus.

"When we step out into the streets, we are doing for the people of our day what Moses once did for the people of his. Remember that you are not alone. Always keep in mind that you are not abandoned," said Smith.

MESSAGE OF HOPE

Even when people feel a deep spiritual hunger and thirst, it can be filled by turning to Jesus Christ. Bringing the Eucharist to the streets offers a message of hope.

"The Eucharist is the centre of our lives; it's our breath. This is why we come to Mass every Sunday and often through the week because we are nourished here in a way we would be nourished nowhere else," said Smith.

The archbishop said every day of our lives should be a Eucharistic procession. He explained that just as we make Christ known to the world on Corpus Christi, we are called to do that with our lives every day.