By Brenda Hopf
Connecting Faith and Life
I looked in my rearview mirror as I was on the way to get a haircut early one Monday morning. A white car zoomed up behind me, suddenly crossed the double yellow line and sped around me to pass as we were ascending a hill. I hit my brakes as the car crested the hill on the wrong side of the road, bracing for a possible devastating outcome. When I reached the top of the hill, the car was just getting back over into the correct lane. How very fortunate that no one was hurt. I am not a perfect driver, but this was just reckless and irresponsible. Obviously, there is meaning and purpose as to why we are taught to drive in an orderly, procession-like manner.
Much of our life is guided by orderly processions that have meaning and purpose. Take a marching band, for example. They march in procession to create beautiful formations with the goal of winning the top award. If they get out of sync, the result is less than favorable. Parades also are processions. If a parade participant stops, gets out of line or goes in a different direction, it disrupts the parade. Take a minute to think about what other processions guide our lives each day and what might happen if someone gets out of line or acts irresponsibly. Like me, I have a feeling you will be quite surprised at the number of processions that are parts of our daily journeys.
Historically, processions have long been a part of culture and religious traditions. They serve as symbolic reminders of unity within a community. There is meaning and purpose to these processions.
As we come together to celebrate the Eucharist on Sunday, the meaning and purpose of unity within the community is fulfilled through the powerful movement of procession. The processions within the liturgy are meant to call to mind our status as pilgrims journeying towards our eternal home in heaven. The entrance procession, dismissal for Liturgy of the Word with children, the dismissal of catechumens to break open the Word, the offertory procession, the Communion procession and the dismissal procession at the end of mass unite us as a community as together we follow Christ who is leading us toward our heavenly home.
There is one procession, however, that gets us closer to heaven than anything else on earth—the Communion procession. Now, be honest; when was the last time you gave that any serious consideration? I think most of us have to admit that there are times we casually stroll up the aisle to receive Communion and allow ourselves to become distracted. We forget that the Communion procession will bring us as close as we will ever be to Jesus on this earth as we receive him in Holy Communion. The Communion procession is a profoundly religious act that, just as everything else that transpires during Mass, is the action of a community of faith rather than an individual act of worship. We should be moving in unison with one another and with dignity and reverence. We are not strolling down a sidewalk, casually walking behind other people or standing in line to get our food at the parish picnic. We are in a sacred procession, and we are about to receive our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, into our very selves.
During the Communion procession, like the driver of the car who was in procession with me that day, we have a choice. We can act recklessly and irresponsibly, or we can enter into the moment with reverence and respect, all the while remembering that we are members of the Body of Christ unified, on our journey to our eternal home in heaven.
Brenda Hopf is the RCIA Coordinator for Divine Mercy Parish.