Fr. Melchor will be ringing the church bells at 11:00 AM and bringing Christ nearer to the people of Shaunavon this Divine Mercy Sunday with a simple, single-vehicle Eucharistic Procession COVID-19 style Sunday, April 19, 2020. People are welcome to practice personal adoration from their front yards or windows as the vehicle transporting Christ drives by as we all continue to respect COVID-19 social distancing practices. The church bells will also be rung at 6:00 PM to accompany personal Divine Mercy Chaplet devotions.
The Eucharist is the source and summit of the whole Christian life. A eucharistic procession, therefore, is a public witness of the veneration toward the most holy Eucharist, conducted through streets. It takes place in this way: A consecrated host – that is, the real and substantial presence of Jesus Christ: body, blood, soul and divinity – is placed within a monstrance, which is then lifted and carried by a priest who leads the faithful in procession. Like a pilgrimage, a eucharistic procession normally starts at one holy place and ends at another. This earthly journey reminds the Catholic faithful of their spiritual journey toward eternal life with God.
Eucharistic processions first became a popular practice in the life of the Church during the celebration of Corpus Christi, traditionally celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. Though directly connected to the liturgical feast of Corpus Christi, eucharistic processions may take place at other appropriate times and places under the authority of the bishop and following liturgical norms.
Such processions have been undertaken for eight centuries, and they have brought many to a deeper spirituality. St. Faustina, the Polish saint who brought forth the Divine Mercy devotion, witnessed several profound experiences with Jesus during Corpus Christi processions.
In her diary, she wrote, “Once, the image was being exhibited over the altar during the Corpus Christi procession [June 20, 1935]. When the priest exposed the Blessed Sacrament, and the choir began to sing, the rays from the image pierced the Sacred Host and spread out all over the world .”
St. Faustina also saw the mercy rays piercing the sacred Host in another procession, “I saw the same rays coming forth from the Sacred Host, just as they are painted in the image. My soul was filled with great longing for God ,” she wrote.
In many ways, Jesus made himself known to the young saint as she took part in various Corpus Christi processions. “… I heard a voice coming from the Host: ‘Here is My repose.’ During Benediction, Jesus gave me to know that soon a solemn moment would take place on this very spot ,” she wrote.
In another Corpus Christi procession, Jesus and St. Faustina would comfort each other as during the way of the cross when He meets Veronica or like a bride and her Groom setting each other’s hearts afire as St. Faustina states, “June 1, 1937. Today, the Corpus Christi procession took place. At the first altar, a flame issued from the Host and pierced my heart, and I heard a voice, Here is My resting place. Ardour burst into flame in my heart. I felt that I am transformed completely into Him .”
St. Faustina’s health was often frail and on several occasions, she received the anointing of the sick thinking she might die. Often she was weak but during the processions, Jesus made up for what she lacked in health as St. Faustina wrote, “I felt so weak that I lost all hope of participating in the procession … I said to the Lord, ‘Jesus, if my prayers are pleasing to You, give me the strength for this moment that I may take part in the procession.’ At that same instant, I felt strong and certain that I could go along with the sisters in the procession .”
The Divine Mercy devotion is a modern devotion to the attribute of God's infinite mercy that was promulgated by St. Faustina Kowalska in Poland, and later to the Universal Church by Pope St. John Paul II ("The Mercy Pope"). Click here to learn more about the Divine Mercy devotion and St. Faustina Kowalska.
By processing with the Holy Eucharist in a reverent, prayerful and joyful manner, Catholics can honour Christ in the Eucharist and serve as witnesses to the intimate presence of God in the world and in each individual. Processions powerfully display the Incarnation, or God becoming human, and thus speak of his merciful love for all who journey to eternal life with him.
Jesus also taught St. Faustina prayers to implore his Divine Mercy. You can find a visual guide for how to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet here.