Diocesan News

Corpus Christi Procession Planned for June 2 in Lincoln

LINCOLN (SNR) - All are invited to join the Corpus Christi procession at 1 p.m. on June 2, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, more commonly known as the Feast of Corpus Christi. It is hosted by Blessed Sacrament Parish and Saint Francis Chapel in Lincoln. Bishop James D. Conley will be the main celebrant.

"We have been doing this for at least four years," said Father John Sullivan, pastor at Blessed Sacrament.

This year’s procession is also an observance for the Year of Faith. Pope Francis has requested some form of Eucharistic Adoration to be observed in every diocese on June 2 at around 11 a.m. Central Time in the U.S.

"This was what was going to work out for our schedules here," Father Sullivan explained.

As has been tradition since the 13th century, the procession will take place outdoors, with four altars set up at various locations. Bishop Conley will hold the Blessed Sacrament aloft in a monstrance, with a canopy overhead carried by four men. The procession will stop at each altar for Benediction.

Children who received the Holy Eucharist for the first time this year are invited to wear their First Communion clothes for the procession, as are those who were confirmed this year.

Various groups, including the Knights of Columbus, altar societies, and the like will also walk together during the procession.

"We’re very pleased that both seminarians from the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) and diocesan seminarians are part of the procession," said Father Sullivan.

Prior to the solemnity, the Blessed Sacrament evangelization committee will deliver fliers to properties along the route to explain the procession.

"Oftentimes, people come out on their porches and smile," Father Sullivan said. "Or they ignore it. There’s never been any public confrontation. It’s a very peaceful and well-accepted thing."

The Feast of Corpus Christi celebrates the real presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

Saint Juliana of Liège (1192-1258), a medieval mystic, was the first to campaign for a feast dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament outside of Lent. In 1208, she had a vision of Christ in which she was instructed to plead for the new feast.

It took nearly 40 years, but Saint Juliana successfully convinced her ordinary, Bishop Robert de Thorete of Liège to convene a synod in 1246 and to order a celebration of Corpus Christi to be held every year thereafter.

In 1263, the miracle of the Corporal of Boslena was instrumental in making this feast universal. Father Peter, a German priest who was on pilgrimage to Rome, had previously struggled with doubt regarding transubstantiation. But as he spoke the words of consecration during Mass in Boslena, Italy, blood began to seep from the consecrated Host, trickling over his hands onto the altar.

Pope Urban IV confirmed the private revelation, and today the Corporal of Boslena is preserved in a reliquary at the cathedral in nearby Orvieto. In 1264, Pope Urban IV made Corpus Christi a feast throughout the Latin Rite.

During the Year of the Priest in June 2010, Father Sullivan went to Rome for the closing ceremonies and made a visit to Orvieto for the Corpus Christi procession. He recalled the enthusiasm that locals had for the procession, decorating their homes with banners in colors of their family crests, and attending the procession in large numbers.

"People were walking in a line as wide as the street and a half-mile long," Father Sullivan remembered. He hopes to see similar numbers at this year’s Corpus Christi procession in Lincoln.

Father Sullivan stressed that participating in the procession is wonderful way to encourage one’s faith.

"To have that ability to express our faith publically also encourages our faith internally. If we don’t express the things we believe, they tend to fade," he said.

Those who wish to attend the procession are encouraged to be at Saint Francis Chapel, 1145 South St., 10-15 minutes prior to the 1 p.m. start time. Parking is available either at the chapel or at Blessed Sacrament parish, 17th and Lake streets, where the procession will end.

The mile-long procession will proceed from the first altar at Saint Francis Chapel, down 13th Street to Rudge Park at 14th and Lake, where the second altar will be placed. The third altar is at Stransky Park, 17th and Harrison, and the procession will finish at Blessed Sacrament Parish.

Guests are reminded to wear clothing appropriate for Mass, and "good walking shoes," Father Sullivan advised.

He also encouraged all to check the weather to determine how many layers and/or how much sunscreen one might need. The procession will be held even in light rain, although plans would naturally change if there were a dangerous weather pattern.

A light reception of cookies, coffee and punch will be served in the Blessed Sacrament school gymnasium immediately afterward.

Father Sullivan invited all Catholics in the area to attend. "It’s a great privilege to worship our Lord and honor Him and to have Bishop Conley to join us in that," he said.

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