Our Corpus Christi Procession
This afternoon we had our Corpus Christi Procession, jointly organised by the four local parishes (Our Lady of Willesden, Willesden Green, Stonebridge Park and Kensal Rise) and this year following a fairly long route between the Cardinal Hinsley School and the Church of the Transfiguration, Kensal Rise.
These processions are still quite unusual in England, though they're becoming more common, especially in the aftermath of the 'Year of the Eucharist.' They're also made easier by the ethnic diversity of a city like London - our procession was one of three religious processions occuring in our area today, including a large Hindu celebration in Willesden. If other religions have the confidence to hold processions, then why can't the Catholic minority?!
The procession went well. I had my first ever ride in a police vehicle, as we quickly surveyed the route beforehand - parishioners were bemused to see me clambering out of the police van in my cassock accompanied by two officers. There was only one mini-disturbance, when a troubled woman started following us and, at one point, stroked the back of my cope and then the head of one server, but she was soon escorted away.
I thought of the Holy Father's words in his Corpus Christi homily last year as we made our way through the streets (stopping for Benediction in one person's front garden):
The force of the sacrament of the Eucharist goes beyond the walls of our churches. In this sacrament, the Lord is always coming to the world. This universal aspect of the Eucharistic presence is shown in the procession of our feast. We take Christ, present in the figure of bread, through the streets of our city. We entrust these streets, these homes, our daily life, to his goodness. May our streets be Jesus' streets! May our homes be homes for him and with him! May his presence penetrate our everyday life. With this gesture, we place before his eyes the sufferings of the sick, the loneliness of youth and the elderly, temptations, fears, our whole life. The procession is intended to be a great and public blessing for our city: Christ is, in person, the divine blessing for the world. May the ray of his blessing extend over all of us!
On reaching Kensal Rise, we had a moving ferverino from Fr Paul Brophy, Administrator of Five Precious Wounds, Stonebridge Park. He also acted as our musical director - he is a talented musician and a former member of the Tallis Scholars and Monteverdi Choir. His picture is below - as you can see, the glare of the sun was so strong that he needed protection:
A great day - beautiful weather, a procession of at least 250 faithful, our First Holy Communion children scattering rose petals in front of the Sanctissimum. Like many popular devotions it had its chaotic moments - we suffered from the lack of a proper MC and it wasn't as streamlined as a ceremony in Rome or Westminster Cathedral. But it was a sincere and loving expression of faith in the Holy Eucharist, the 'source and summit' of our Christian lives.