Requested by the Lord Himself in private visions to St. Juliana of Mont Cornillon, Pope Urban IV, always an admirer of the feast, published the Bull "Transiturus" (8 September, 1264), in which, after having extolled the love of Our Saviour as expressed in the Holy Eucharist, he ordered the annual celebration of Corpus Christi in the Thursday next after Trinity Sunday, at the same time granting many indulgences to the faithful for the attendance at Mass and at the Office.
This Office, composed at the request of the Pope by the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, is one of the most beautiful in the Roman Breviary.
The Feast of Corpus Christi was celebrated with traditional solemnity with all its attendant bells and smells and sung sequences at the Sunday evening Mass. The only thing that was not right were the missing heavy brass candlesticks which we usually bring out for the more solemn Masses. The person in charge has been anathematized and has been duly notified.
The Mass was presided by Rev. Fr. Ross Naylor, Chaplain to the Royal Australian Air Force, based in Penang.
The sequence was sung to a simple psalm tone as its uneven structure doesn't permit it to be sung to any song that I know of. Mark duly volunteered and sung through the entire thing before the Gospel acclamation. The people were starting to get restless after the first 5 verses... sigh. For the life of me, I can find any music for the sequence in English unless we sing Lauda Sion in Latin. Anyone know of any?
A closer look at Fr. Ross during the presentation of the gifts.
The Elevation of the Sacred Host.
Hoc est enim Corpus Meum quod pro vobis tradetur.
I had forgotten to bring the more smoky and fragrant incense so we had to make to with the usual 'less smoky' variety.
In place of the final blessing, we had the procession with the Blessed Sacrament. Here, Fr. Ross is bearing the Monstrance down the steps of the sanctuary.
Actually, we have an ombrellino which is supposed to be used to convey the Blessed Sacrament from the Altar to the baldacchino or canopy but it wasn't used. However, I am glad the the priest chose to use the cope. Our assistant parish priest always omits the cope during our normal Saturday Benediction after the novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
The procession is led by the crucifer, lucifers and thurifer followed by the priest bearing the Blessed Sacrament.
You can see the puddles of water on the ground and the wet cars. When Mass began, it was raining and I was afraid that the procession would have to be cancelled but luckily, the rained stopped before the Mass was over and we were able to have the procession.
Our canopy is an ancient, heavily embroidered cloth of gold canopy left over from the pre-Vatican II days. The canopy was borne by the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.
During the procession, the Litany of the Blessed Sacrament was chanted to the traditional tune by Mark and our humility. I'm not sure why he appears taller than me in this photo... perhaps he was kneeling on something. Behind us, you can see the congregation making their way out of the Church.
A procession with the Blessed Sacrament is not meant to take Jesus out for a walk because he's been in the tabernacle for so long. No. The Eucharistic procession is meant to remind us that the Lord Jesus is in our midst. Following Him, walking behind Him, calls to mind His great saving works of old when the Lord led the people of Israel out of Egypt and went before them as a pillar of fire and cloud working wonders with His mighty arm.
In some processions, as in the one in Nibong Tebal, the people bear lighted candles and follow in the footsteps to Jesus, the Light of the World. We are lighted to enlighten and commanded to bring the Light of Christ entrusted to us to all.
As the people of Israel followed the pillar in the desert, so too now, we follow Christ, calling on His Name as we chanted the Litany, asking the Lord Jesus to have mercy on us.
By following Christ, we acknowledge that it is Jesus Himself who is our Way, our Leader and our Shepherd.
Unfortunately, the procession was only around the compound of the Church. Perhaps next year, God willing and if the police permit it, we will be able to bring Christ our into the streets as we did in Nibong Tebal on Thursday. By bringing Jesus into the streets, we will be doing what the Lord Himself did when He walked the earth, going out to meet the people, letting them encounter Him as they went about their daily lives.
By the way, the lady in the white blouse in the centre is my own grandmother, of candle holder assembly sweatshop fame =)
The procession makes is way back to the Church where the final Benediction will be given.
The candles were brought out and the altar set up to receive Christ for the Adoration and Benediction.
The Tantum Ergo, written by St. Thomas Aquinas, being sung.
Fr. Ross singing the Corpus Christi collect.
Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament.
Overall, it was a rather good and prayerful celebration. Compared to the many comments I have read, at least we had the sung sequence and a procession, even though it was only within the Church compound.
Perhaps next year we will restore the tradition adoration in between the morning and evening Masses and obtain a permit for a longer procession, Deo volente.
Despite everything, I should be thankful to have been graced to participate in 2 Corpus Christi Masses and processions this year and what wonderful and prayerful celebrations they have turned out to be!
How was your celebration?
The photos were taken by my friend Adam as I was in the Church chanting the Litany.
If you liked this photopost, then perhaps you'd be interested in checking out the Mass and candlelight procession I attended on the 'real' day, on Thursday, in the Church of St. Anthony in Nibong Tebal.