Over the centuries, Eucharistic processions have been a main component in reverently celebrating the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. This involves taking Christ through the streets while displaying Him in a monstrance for the whole community to behold.
The goals of an outdoor procession are twofold: (1) to call the community to worship Christ in the Eucharistic Species, and (2) to bring Christ's blessing and protection to the neighborhood.
In May 2018, we had a horrible shoot-out at Resurrection Parish in Chicago, where I was pastor at the time. The gas station at which the shooting occurred on a warm spring night was only a block and a half from the parish campus. Members of a local street gang got into a fight amongst themselves and they all pulled out their guns and started taking potshots at each other, till one of their members was dead and three were wounded. The parents of the slain young man were devout members of the parish, despite their son being AWOL. Upon their request, and with the presence of the Chicago police, I permitted a private funeral for their son. I consoled the boy's parents at the time with the thought that God is abundantly merciful and that perhaps their son, before he breathed his last, asked God for His abundant mercy.
The parish, in the aftermath of this awful tragedy, was shaken to its core. So, in an effort to restore God's peace to the community, and to reclaim the streets of the parish for Christ, the pastoral team and I decided to have a traditional Corpus Christi procession.
Despite the protestations beforehand by some naysayers, the procession on Corpus Christi in June 2018 at Resurrection parish went exceedingly well. Members of the youth group, who got the procession underway in church, were greeted along the procession route by other parishioners outside their homes. Eucharistic adoration and benediction were then offered upon the altars set up in the front yards of parishioners. By the time the procession returned to the church, the group of adorers had more than doubled in size, filling the church so much that the final divine praises sung to Our Lord were thundered by a sizable group of all ages.
One positive result of this Corpus Christi procession was that many non-Catholic neighbors came to know about the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. This was facilitated by loud singing of the Church's traditional hymns by participants as they made their way through the neighborhood.
Another good outcome of the procession was that Our Lord renewed His blessing and protection upon the community. Many of the people who had set up a front-yard altar left their altar in place for a long time. This reminded the evil elements that Christ was Our Eucharistic Lord! The remainder of summer 2018 was blessed with the street gangs remaining in the shadows and no repeat shoot-outs (which are common occurrences in Chicago).
On this year's Solemnity of Corpus Christi, take some time out to celebrate Our Lord's Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. And if your parish has an outdoor procession, don't hesitate to participate. If it doesn't, have your own procession. Make it a priority to also broach the topic of Our Lord's Real Presence with your family and friends. We all have family members who've fallen away from the Faith. Make this Corpus Christi an opportunity to talk with them about the blessings Our Lord bestows on those who receive Him in Holy Communion.
Another good way to celebrate Corpus Christi with family members and friends is to bring out your Bible and read as a group the Bread of Life discourse, as found in chapter 6 of St. John's Gospel. There's not a more effective way to rekindle a flickering faith into a blaze than to read Our Lord's own words about the importance of His Real Presence in the Eucharist.
Corpus Christi is a time to celebrate Christ. He gives His Real Presence to us in the Blessed Sacrament so He can remain spiritually present in our hearts and keep us in the fight!