Corpus Christi procession is not sign of pride but invitation, Pope Francis says

Friday, Jun. 07, 2024
By Catholic News Service

ROME — When Catholics carry the Eucharist through the streets, “we are not doing this to show off or to flaunt our faith” but to invite others to share in the life that Jesus gives by making himself a gift, Pope Francis said.

“Let’s make the procession in this spirit, “ the pope said June 2 in his homily at a Mass for the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.

Pope Francis presided over the Mass in Rome’s Basilica of St. John Lateran, his cathedral as bishop of Rome. Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, was the main celebrant at the altar.

After Mass, more than 3,000 people – cardinals, bishops, priests, religious, lay members of confraternities and sodalities, Romans and pilgrims – participated in the Corpus Christi procession to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, about a mile away. Rome Auxiliary Bishop Baldo Reina carried the Eucharist under a canopy held aloft by eight men.

Pope Francis, who has difficulty walking and often uses a wheelchair, was driven to St. Mary Major to welcome the procession and lead adoration and Benediction.

In his homily at the Mass, Pope Francis said the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist demonstrates that God is “not distant and jealous, but close and in solidarity with humanity; a God who does not abandon us but always seeks, waits for and accompanies us, even to the point of placing himself, helpless, into our hands, subjecting himself to our acceptance or rejection.”

“His real presence also invites us to be close to our brothers and sisters wherever love calls us,” the pope said.

The sign of bread is important, the pope said, because “it is the food of daily life, and with it we bring to the altar all that we are and all that we have: our lives, work, successes and failures too.”

The Eucharist teaches Catholics “to bless, to gather and to cherish God’s gifts as a sign of thanksgiving” by not wasting food or talents, for example, but also by “forgiving and helping raise up those who make mistakes and fall because of weakness or lapses, acknowledging that everything is a gift and nothing should be lost, that no one should be left behind and that everyone deserves a chance to get back on their feet.”

Pope Francis also spoke about the fragrance of bread and how, “every day we see too many streets that were once filled with the smell of freshly baked bread, but are now reduced to rubble by war, selfishness and indifference!”

“We urgently need to bring back to our world the good, fresh aroma of the bread of love, to continue tirelessly to hope and rebuild what hatred destroys,” he said.

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