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Saturday, 19 May 2012 17:17

'God is with us' is message of Feast of Corpus Christi

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NEW BEDFORD — Over 1,600 years ago, a North African mystic explained to Christians that with the Eucharist, God had given them everything.

"Although God is all-powerful, He is unable to give more; though supremely wise, He knows not how to give more; though vastly rich, He has not more to give," St. Augustine taught.

When the Franciscans of the Immaculate lead the Corpus Christi (Body of Christ) Procession through downtown New Bedford at 2 p.m. Sunday, they will be visibly expressing this belief that "God is with us."

"Our Catholic faith is not one where everything remains only in the abstract, but rather there are also concrete things in demonstration — things that we can see, things that we can touch, and things that we can sense that help witness to our faith," said the Rev. Louis Maximilian Mary, Father Guardian of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate of Our Lady's Chapel.

Catholics believe that Jesus Christ will be present — body, blood, soul and divinity — in the consecrated host exposed in the monstrance that a priest will carry along city streets, just as He is present in the tabernacles of Catholic churches veiled under the appearance of bread.

"We see with the eyes of faith, and it's something of a mystery," said Father Louis. "It's our way to come into His presence, a mysterious and profound contact with God by things we can see and touch."

Along with the six Friars of the Immaculate, diocesan priests will participate in the procession.

"Last year we had many priests from New Bedford parishes who participated with their parishes, and I think it's a wonderful statement of the unity of the faithful in proclaiming their belief and in praising their Lord," said Father Louis. "It is very public and so very important."

Members of church organizations and sodalities from throughout the diocese also will join the procession with their banners, and buses of worshippers are expected to participate.

Stepping off from Our Lady's Chapel, clergy and laity will process reverently in a circuitous route to Our Lady of Purgatory Church (11 Franklin St.), St. Lawrence Martyr Church (560 County St.) and St. John the Baptist (344 County St.) and return to Our Lady's Chapel for final, prayers, hymns and Benediction.

While processing, children dressed as angels, will be strewing flower petals in front of the Blessed Sacrament, a European custom.

"One of the traditions with this procession is that children who make their First Communion this year dress up in white like angels," said Father Louis. This is kind of a visual reminder of the angels adoring the Lord."

Established in 1246 by Bishop Robert de Thorte of Liege, France, the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament was extended to the universal Church by Pope Urban in 1264. It is celebrated on the first Sunday after the Feast of the Trinity.

In 1979, Pope John Paul II took the traditional procession of the Eucharist from St. Peter's Square to the people, and Pope Benedict XVI follows in his footsteps.

After the final Benediction at Our Lady's Chapel, the friars will host a reception.

"The Vatican has requested that the faithful around the world participate in Eucharistic Adoration to pray for the Holy Father," said Father Louis. "Area parishes will participate, too. We are offering up this extra prayer to our Holy Father to ask God to protect him and to thank God for him."

The article above was published in the local newspaper "Standard Times" which covered last year's Corpus Christi Procession. It's being reprinted here electronically with permission

This Year's Corpus Christi will be on Sunday, June 10, 2012 which will commence at Our Lady's Chapel at 2:00pm EDT. For details view the poster

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