AUSTIN CATHOLIC REPORT: On Sunday June 26, 2011, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of Corpus Christi universally around the world. This year Saint Mary Cathedral plans to have the 1st Annual Children’s Corpus Christi Procession. It will be geared toward children and Catholic youth so that they will come to give witness to the world of their faith in the Eucharistic Presence of Jesus among us. During the procession we will praise and adore the Lamb of God in song and prayer all the way to the State Capitol. Street spectators and participants of the procession will encounter the Jesus who 2,000 years said to apostles and disciples, “Come Follow Me,” – “Sigueme.”
The feast’s official name is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. The feast and procession were given to the Universal Church by Pope Urban in 1264. Its origins go back to the beginning of 13 century when a 16-year old teenager named Juliana of Cornilion/Liege, had a vision, which was then to be repeated many times in her Eucharistic adorations.
In the vision St. Juliana saw the moon in its entire splendor, but with a dark strip that went across the diameter. Jesus made her understand that the moon symbolized the life of the Church on earth; but the solid line represented the absence of a liturgical feast in which believers would be able to adore the Eucharist to increase their faith, advance in the practice of virtue and make reparation for the offenses to Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
750 years later, Jesus is still speaking to young people and children through Eucharistic adoration. The latest 2011 Survey says that 65% of seminarians took part in adoration before entering the seminary, and that by the age of 16 they had begun to consider the priesthood.
Consider what Pope Benedict XVI said last year when writing about the Feast of Corpus Christi and St. Juliana, “I would like to affirm with joy that today in the Church there is a “Eucharistic springtime.” It is consoling to know …that young people have rediscovered the beauty of praying in adoration before the Most Blessed Sacrament… I pray that this Eucharistic “springtime” will spread to every parish.”
Closer to home, consider the example of Saint Mary Cathedral altar server Daniel Henderson who took it upon himself to initiate the very first St. Michael’s Catholic Academy Holy Hour. He showed such zeal that when it was discovered that the school had no monstrance he went as far as placing calls until he found one he could borrow. “It was amazing to see how the students who had never been to adoration reacted…I believe that some students saw God’s love for the first time,” stated the high school junior.
The question of whether young people or children actually comprehend the value and importance of adoration is best demonstrated every First Friday of the month when the Cathedral School has monthly adoration, every First Thursday when homeschoolers have adoration, but most especially on Divine Mercy Sunday when students Pre-K -12th grade from the Cathedral School and the RE program filled the Cathedral to standing room only during a special Divine Mercy Holy Hour. They presented anonymous heartfelt intentions to Jesus such as, “Please help my father find work,” “Keep my father and mother together this is the only thing I ask,” “Help my father to stop drinking,” “Help my parents to stop fighting.” Cathedral RE Confirmation student Laura Ramsey from Regina Mater School said “I always feel better after adoration,” and another student said “I feel close to Jesus during adoration.”
These comments and intentions could be moments of evangelization between the parent and child as Pope Benedict XVI said in 2008 when addressing pastors, “It is only Jesus who can fan the ‘flame of faith’ in the Hearts of the children of the world! When we gather the children of the world before Jesus who is truly Present in all the Tabernacles of the world, our faith tells us, that in His great Love and Mercy He will certainly ‘fan the flame of faith’ in the hearts of our children thus reaching into the Heart of every Family, through their littlest members, the children. And a little child will lead them…”
At times young people may struggle thinking nothing is happening and that they are wasting their time in adoration. “CCC 2732 When we begin to pray, a thousand thoughts vie for priority.” They start thinking that they could be doing other more important things like texting! If this is the case consider what Blessed Pope John Paul II said in 1996 on the Feast of Corpus Christi, “Through adoration, the Christian mysteriously contributes to the “radical transformation” of the world and the sowing of the Gospel. Anyone who prays to the Savior draws the whole world with him and raises it to God. Those who stand before the Lord are therefore fulfilling an eminent service. They are presenting to Christ all those who do not know him or are far from him; they keep watch in his presence on their behalf.”
On June 26 at 10:45 A.M., we begin at the Cathedral with Exposition followed by the Eucharistic procession to the State Capitol, worshipping at two altars along the way, and then back to the Cathedral for Benediction. Everyone is invited young and old but we especially invite Catholic schools, parish religious education students, homeschoolers, university groups, and young adults groups to come and bring their group and parish banners. In doing so we are reminded of what Pope Benedict XVI said in 2008 on the Feast of Corpus Christi, “The procession of Corpus Christi teaches us that the Eucharist wants to free us from all distress and discomfort…so that we can resume the journey with the strength of God gives us in Jesus Christ. Without the God-with-us, the God Who is near, how can we sustain the pilgrimage of life…? The Eucharist is the Sacrament of the God Who does not leave us to journey alone, but puts Himself at our side and shows us the way.”