A Eucharistic Procession will be held on the University of Notre Dame campus Sunday (April 26) following the 11:45 a.m. Mass in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
The procession, led by Rev. Kevin Russeau, C.S.C., director of Notre Dame’s Old College undergraduate seminary, will move through Notre Dame’s South Quadrangle, stopping at altars placed before the statues of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Our Lady of the University and Notre Dame’s founder, Rev. Edward Sorin, C.S.C., and the steps of the Main Building.
During the procession public prayers will be offered for a deepened respect and protection of all human life from conception to natural death, an increase in vocations to the religious life and blessings on the students of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross Colleges.
Once a yearly event at the University, Eucharistic processions through campus fell out of practice in the years following the Second Vatican Council, but the custom was revived five years ago, reflecting a renewed interest in classical devotions to the Sacrament of the Eucharist among Notre Dame students.
By extolling the consecrated host, these public devotions celebrate the belief that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist. Eucharistic processions, or “Corpus Christi” processions as they are often called, using the Latin words for “Body of Christ,” are a tradition dating back at least to the 13th century. The tradition was widely suppressed by the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century in much of northern Europe. In response, Catholic communities redoubled their zeal for the practice and towns often competed in sponsoring elaborate and well-attended processions on the holy day of Corpus Christi. The processions remain especially popular throughout Latin America and southern Europe.
“During the procession, in a very real way, we take our Lord outside of our church walls and into the modern world,” Father Russeau said. “Taking our faith into the world is not a new call to us Christians, but for various reasons we can sometimes compartmentalize our faith. We worship on Sundays and other occasions but fail to recognize that what we do at worship should have effect on our relationships, actions and words in the world. I’ve noticed in the past several years that people who encounter the procession have mixed reactions, wondering if they should kneel or at least stop what they are doing as a sign of reverence, or if they should continue as if we were not processing by.
“The flip side of that reflection has struck me the past couple of years,” Father Russeau continued. “I wonder how it is that I bring Jesus into the world when he is not flanked with candles or led with incense. Do I revere God outside of worship or do I simply continue with what is occupying me that particular day? The procession has a quality of integration about it.”
All students and the public are invited to take part in the procession, which will be followed by a picnic lunch provided by the Notre Dame Council of the Knights of Columbus.
Contact: Rev. Kevin Russeau, C.S.C. at Russeau.firstname.lastname@example.org