A Note From Fr. Jeremy
WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH PROCESSION?
Brothers and Sisters,
The practicals of Mass tend to confuse the non-Catholic and are often merely accepted as a “whatever, that’s just what happens” by lifelong Catholics. One practical example would be the multiple times that the priest seems to whisper something during Mass – especially during the Eucharistic Prayer. What is he saying? Why is he whispering it instead of saying it aloud? Am I supposed to know what he is saying?
With this in mind, I would like to give a 1-0n-1 as to why on Earth we have a procession at the beginning and at the end of Mass.
Firstly, the Holy Faith is categorized as a “received religion.” Christianity is not something that a gathered group of people “came up with” as though it were a philosophy of life. Christianity, rather, is something that was given by Christ and received by the apostles and others. This is one of the reasons that Mass begins with a procession: to emphasize that the Faith is received by all of us.
Another reason for the procession is the evangelical nature of the Holy Faith. Christianity is not similar to a national origin where we can say, for example, “my ancestors were from Germany, so I am German.” Christians are made, not born. If your ancestors were Christians, that’s great, but that does not make you Christian. People like Saint Paul, Saint Peter, other apostles, and countless missionaries went to all corners of the globe to tell people about Christ – people who had never heard of Him before that point. The procession at the start of Mass is a reminder, a symbol of those missionaries coming into a new place to tell them about Christ.
Further: monks and nuns, deacons and priests do not fall out of the sky. All of these sacred vocations come from families. The extreme majority of monks, nuns, deacons, and priests come from families that practice the Holy Faith and value the teachings of the Church. The procession going through the nave of the Church (that is, from the back of the pews to the front) is not only a symbol of a missionary coming to tell us about Christ but also a “broom” – a ‘sweeping’ through the gathered congregation to see who else from our own families might join the procession as a future monk, nun, deacon, or priest.
For the Church, the procession is not anything at all of an “important people only club” – far from it. As Christ told His apostles: let the greatest among you be your servant (Matthew 23:11). Those in the procession are to be of service to the parish and help us all to be better Christians. On a personal note, I tend to feel weight of responsibility in the procession on Sundays and Holy Days. I think of: these good people are trusting me to help them be better Christians and I better be up to the task.
God be near, Fr. Jeremy, Pastor