Taking the Gods for a Walk

Mothers Day, a holiday of particular importance to merchants, falls on the second Sunday of this year 2008. This "special" day has become, like Christmas, Easter and a number of other days that once were observed by faith and love, just another annual event celebrated more in business establishments than in the heart. Not so in the Catholic Church, however, wherein May 11th of this year marks the Solemnity of Pentecost.

The first Sunday following Pentecost is Trinity Sunday. A few days after that occasion, on May 22nd this year, Catholic faithful will take their cookie god for a walk in the open air.

The solemnity of Corpus Christi, dedicated to the mystery of the Eucharist, concludes the cycle of feasts following Easter. The date is fixed by the Vatican as the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, which is turn is the Sunday after Pentecost. -- CWNews.com, Pope to lead Corpus Christi procession through Rome, Jun. 12, 2006, (C) 2008 Trinity Communications

What is this procession all about? Esstentially, these processions involve the diocesan bishop or the parish priest walking under a canopy while holding the cookie god idol for all to look upon and worship. The level of pageantry varies with, I suppose, the financial condition of the parish where the idol is kept. In some places, like Rome and great European cities, there is a a lot of pomp and ceremony. In less wealthy parishes, the affair is less splendidly done. In my wife's home town in Mexico, there are drummers, buglers and people dressed up as tribal dancers, and a crowd of people walking dutifully behind the cookie idol, singing and chanting and trying to look very religious.

As I write this post, another idol, a really big one, is being carried in procession over the highways and byways of Canada.

Ark of the New Covenant © 2008 International Eucharistic Congress
Ark of the New Covenant

"In preparation for the 49th International Eucharistic Congress, a group of young adults gathered together in May 2005 for a weekend of renewal and discussions, called the Youth Summit. At this gathering, they remembered the World Youth Day Cross and expressed their desire to have a symbolic object criss-cross the country in preparation for the 2008 International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City. . . .

"The Organizing Committee that worked with Cardinal Marc Ouellet in defining the main objectives of the 2008 International Eucharistic Congress enthusiastically welcomed the young people’s proposal. The committee suggested they add the angels in adoration and suggested an evocative name—the Ark of the New Covenant." -- Anonymous, Ark of the New Covenant, © 2008 International Eucharistic Congress

The Marian idol, travelling with a dozen or so committed companions, has been on the road for some time now.

The historical pilgrimage of the Ark of the New Covenant follows the footsteps of the North American Catholic Church founders. It will commence from the National Canadian Martyrs Shrine (Midland, ON) on Easter Sunday (March 23, 2008), and arrive in Quebec City on the solemnity of Corpus Christi (May 25, 2008). -- Ark of the New Covenant - Pilgrimage, © 2008 International Eucharistic Congress

Wow! All that art work and travelling is surely gonna earn plenty of merit points for those involved.

I was prompted to put this article together after running across this little item that I had posted on another incarnation of the Proclaiming the Gospel board back in 1999:

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Quick! Someone get me a respirator, I am breathless.

Just a few minutes ago, I saw and heard something that truly surprised me. While surfing channels on my TV, I came across the final minutes of EWTN's broadcast of the Solemn Mass of Corpus Christi. I landed in the channel during the Solemn Procession of Corpus Christi, a remarkably pagan religious moment.

The procession, which I assume was just completing a loop around the Convent grounds, was preceded by a bevy of little girls, all dressed in white, all of whom were scattering flower petals ahead of the main body.

The main body consisted of a gaggle of men in robes. Some of these were holding candlesticks, one waved a censor, some were holding a beautifully-worked canopy over the priest-celebrant, who was dressed in a lovely long golden robe. The priest carried the monstrance -- an idol worked in the form of a sunburst. In the place of the sun, there is a glass window through which the Blessed Sacrament may be seen.

At the end of the column was a small assembly of the faithful, accompanied by a couple of Knights of Columbus, in their red-lined capes and feathered hats.

What a splendid display it was.

Taking the cookie god for a walk in the Spring sunshine.

This was not what shocked me, however. I have personally witnessed a few of these pagan displays over the years. What grabbed me was at the beginning of the show that followed, The Franciscan University program.

As the program began, Fr. Michael Scanlon, President of the Franciscan University of Steubenville, informed viewers that the show would deal with Y2K issues, adding that this was a major concern of "Catholics and Christians."

A Freudian slip?

Whatever. I know I loved it.

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