Story by Reagan Scott
(SNR) - The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, referred to by its Latin name, Corpus Christi, celebrates the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
The annual feast, which, on the Universal Church calendar, is celebrated on the Thursday after the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, will be celebrated throughout the United States on Sunday, June 23 at the direction of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The feast is often celebrated with outdoor processions as a way to share Christ with the world.
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At least a dozen such processions will be held across the diocese June 23, including a procession in Lincoln from St. Francis Chapel on South Street in Lincoln, to Blessed Sacrament at 17th and Lake streets at 1 p.m. St. Teresa Parish in Lincoln will also have a procession after their 8 a.m. Mass.
Other parishes with traditional processions include Holy Trinity in Brainard and Sacred Heart in Cedar Hill, to name a few. In fact, Sacred Heart has held Corpus Christi processions since Bohemian and Moravian settlers formed the parish in 1879, according to parishioner Cecilia Hall.
Most outdoor Eucharistic processions include stops at altars which may be decorated with candles, flowers or votive images. The lay faithful may recite prayers or sing hymns as they follow along.
In April 2017, Bishop Conley released a pastoral letter on adoration of the Holy Eucharist entitled “Love Made Visible,” stating that, “Increasing our devotion to Eucharistic adoration could be transformative in our diocese…”
Bishop Conley’s pastoral letter, efforts from parish priests, the work of the Knights of the Holy Eucharist and the Eucharistic Family Rosary crusade have helped parishes expand adoration, and students in Catholic schools across the diocese are learning more about the benefits of Eucharistic adoration.
North American Martyrs Parish in Lincoln started perpetual adoration in the spring of 2016. Before then, the parish only had full-time adoration during Lent. Diann Kroos, a pre-K teacher and the adoration coordinator at North American Martyrs said that the encouragement of pastor Father Brian Connor was the catalyst for this change.
Since then, Kroos has seen changes both in her own personal life, and in her parish.
“Because I am with Him in Adoration, I hear Him more clearly throughout the day. Because I have started this personal, intimate relationship, He has become more clear, more dear, more personal and more of my life and priority,” she said.
Kroos said her dynamic, outgoing parish has been enhanced by many parishioners sharing their love and time before the Lord. She encourages everyone to try a holy hour for a couple of weeks.
“The love relationship that we will experience in eternity can start here and now,” she said. “We get to have our God weave His love and peace into our souls and all we have to do is show up.”
St. Patrick Parish in Lincoln started perpetual adoration on Corpus Christi Sunday 2017 with the help of the Knights of the Holy Eucharist. Before, the parish only had adoration during Advent and Lent, and struggled to find people to sign up.
With the help of the Knights, the parish went from having 40 to 50 adorers, to 130, full-time.
“It’s transformed a lot of people’s lives,” said Mary Doher. “I’ve enjoyed my hour. I’m able to listen to what God is telling me and I have an easier time with that. I think that’s a grace from Adoration.
“Each day we should get closer and closer with God, and I think that hour helps.”
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St. Cecilia Parish in Hastings initiated perpetual adoration in November 2014. Not long after that, leadership of Hastings Catholic Schools proposed taking a holy hour for the schools’ students. A Eucharistic procession kicked off homecoming festivities the following fall.
Since then, students have had the opportunity to spend time with Jesus in the Eucharist and received the Sacrament of Confession every Wednesday from 9 to 10 p.m. Father Adam Sughroue, the campus minister for Hastings Catholic Schools, said that the holy hour has picked up in attendance every year.
He has seen two major effects since the institution of the school’s holy hour. The first is that is has helped the students learn how to pray.
“Even if you have nothing to say, you can’t sit in His presence for an hour and not be moved,” Father Sughroue said.
The other effect is the way the holy hour has helped the Catholic identity and culture of the school system.
Father Sughroue said that Bishop Conley has commented on the way students look at the monstrance during the school’s yearly Eucharistic procession, saying that the students look at the Eucharist in a way that is familiar, that they know it’s Jesus.
Thanks to efforts made across the diocese, more and more people have been given the opportunity to form a personal relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist. As the world prepares to celebrate Corpus Christi, the feast serves as a reminder of this great gift.
Kroos said, “It doesn’t make sense in the world’s terms, but by faith we know that the Blessed Sacrament is [Jesus’] precious body. How can we not want to be before our Lord, loving and worshiping Him?”