November 2023 By Father Stephen Durkee, Director of Priestly Vocations Through this holy anointing, may…
Bringing Jesus to God’s people
By Fr. Stephen Durkee
In the week leading up to Corpus Christi Sunday, I was watching the weather closely. At St. Pius X Parish in Grandville, we had planned a eucharistic procession through nearby neighborhoods. At the end of the procession, there would be a time scheduled for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and after the time of prayer, an op-opportunity for the community to gather for food and live music outside. And yet, after 30 days of no rain, it seemed that we would have rain that Sunday.
Based on the forecast, we needed to cancel the outdoor festivities, including the procession. I was super bummed. My thought at the time was, “Lord, come on, we are doing this for you.” Even “the wind and [rain] obey [your] command” (Mk 4:41), surely Jesus can make the rain miss us on Corpus Christi Sunday – the day we were initiating the year of Eucharistic Revival in parishes across the United States.
And yet, as disappointed as I was that we had to change our plans, once again I was reminded that God is in control and his ways are always better than ours. Instead of an outdoor procession, we had time to adore the Blessed Sacrament inside the church. After a few minutes of silent prayer, I lifted the monstrance and processed around the entire church.
Instead of the people following behind, I brought Jesus to the people. It was powerful.
As I processed, I would stop and stand in front of them with the monstrance for a few moments. Some people were quite emotional. Some mouthed words of prayer. Others bowed in humble adoration as the Lord drew near to them. All of them seemed to be having profoundly personal experiences of Christ’s love for them in that moment.
After the procession and adoration, we moved into our parish hall for the potluck. Over and over again, people said to me, “Father, I was looking forward to the outdoor procession, but I think what we ended up doing was better.” You see, an outdoor procession is a beautiful and wonderful devotion that is a public sign to the world of our belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. And we are certainly going to do at least one or two of these processions at St. Pius during this parish year of Eucharistic Revival, but I think on this day, the Lord wanted to come to the people of St. Pius X in this unique and special way.
The procession within the church was an example to me of the mission of the priest. We are called to bring Christ to God’s holy people. I was renewed in faith and my own priestly commitment on that Sunday. Yet another reminder that even if we think we have this beautiful thing planned, God might have something else in mind. Through Jesus Christ, God has visited his people. Through the sacrament of the Eucharist, Christ continues to dwell among us today.