Parishioners at St. Matthew the Apostle Cathedral in Washington, DC took their faith to the streets with a Corpus Christi procession on June 19, as Catholic parishes across the United States held Eucharistic processions on the feast day of Corpus Christi (Latin for “the Body of Christ”), and helped launch the three-year national Eucharistic revival campaign promoted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to increase understanding and devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
One of the goals of the campaign is to inspire Catholics to be “Eucharistic missionaries” and to help bring Jesus into their world through their prayers and actions in their daily lives.
Msgr. W. Ronald Jameson, the rector of St. Matthew’s, celebrated the 11 a.m. Mass there for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ that morning before leading the procession through the streets outside the cathedral . While holding the monstrance, an ornate sacred vessel displaying the consecrated Eucharist, Msgr. Jameson walked under a canopy manned by ward members, as a crowd of people followed.
Earlier in his homily, Msgr. Jameson referred to a medieval work known as “The Tale of Years Bygone” from Kievan Rus’, a state that is now part of modern-day Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.
Originally written in Old East Slavic by Nestor the Chronicler, the historical work describes when Vladimir the Great, a prince who ruled Kievan Rus’, abandoned his pagan practices and was baptized in the year 988.
The priest described how Prince Vladimir was drawn to Christianity after being approached by proselytes of many faiths who wanted to convert him and his people. After sending a delegation to investigate the various faiths and their worship practices, the delegation sent an emotional response to the prince after he arrived in Constantinople and saw a mass celebrated in Saint Sophia Cathedral.
“According to the story, they quickly wrote the report to Prince Vladimir in kyiv, which said: ‘We did not know whether we were in heaven or on earth, because on earth there is no such splendor or such beauty, and we are unable to describe what we witnessed. We only know that God dwells there among the people,” Msgr. said Jameson.
After baptizing himself, Prince Vladimir had a mass baptism for his family and followers, which is now known as the Baptism of Rus’, and which led to the Christianization of the region of Kievan Rus in Eastern and Northern Europe.
“Never underestimate the power of liturgy, at best liturgy removes the veil that hides heaven from earth, blurs the barriers separating time from eternity, at best liturgy gives us a glimpse of God”, said Msgr. said Jameson.
The rector of the cathedral underlined the importance of the Eucharist to understand the presence of God.
“Each time we celebrate the Eucharist, we come into contact with eternity. Each time we break the bread and eat it, each time we bless the cup of wine, we touch the divinity, receiving as food and drink , the Body and Blood of Christ given as food for the journey,” Bishop Jameson said.
The procession began outside the cathedral on Rhode Island Avenue, turned right onto Connecticut Avenue and around the perimeter of the cathedral, taking Connecticut to the intersection of 18th Street and Connecticut, until N Street, then 17th Street, until finally back to Rhode. Island Ave.
During the procession, the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary were recited alternately between Spanish and English. As the event concluded on the steps of St. Matthew’s Cathedral, divine praises were recited and attendees sang the hymn “Holy God, We Praise Your Name”.
Alexander Velasquez, a sophomore preparing for his First Communion with St. Matthew’s Spanish faith formation ministry, closely followed Msgr. Jameson in the motorcade. He received his first communion during the Spanish Mass in the cathedral at 1 p.m.
“[Communion is important] because you are going to fully participate in the Church,” Velasquez said. Her family planned to celebrate after Mass with a meal at Olive Garden.
Velasquez, dressed in a white suit and matching shoes, was accompanied by his mother, Morena Ramirez. She said her family had been members of the cathedral parish for some time and her son was looking forward to receiving communion.
“He had been waiting for this moment for a very long time. Every time we went to mass he would ask, ‘Why can’t I come with you?’ and I said to him, ‘You’re going to have to wait until that day comes. , it must be really special for you,'” Ramirez said. “He’s happy and I’m very, very excited for him.”
It was Ramirez’s second Corpus Christi procession, an event she said she enjoys because it allows her to share her faith.
“I like it because as a community we can set an example for everyone, and God is for everyone, so it’s good that we go out and participate and show others that he there is a God for everyone,” Ramirez said. “There is no point in coming to church, we also have to give to others what God wants us to do, show his love to everyone.”
(For more information on the National Eucharistic Revival, go to https://www.eucharisticrevival.org/.)