Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Festival of Corpus Christi

“The Feast of Corpus Christi (Latin for Body of Christ) is a Latin Rite liturgical solemnity celebrating the tradition and belief in the body and blood of Jesus Christ and his Real Presence in the Eucharist. It emphasizes the joy of the institution of the Eucharist, which was observed on Holy Thursday in the somber atmosphere of the nearness of Good Friday.

For centuries after the celebration was extended to the universal Church, the feast was also celebrated with a Eucharistic procession, in which the Sacred Host was carried throughout the town, accompanied by hymns and litanies. The faithful would venerate the Body of Christ as the procession passed by. In recent years, this practice has almost disappeared, though some parishes still hold a brief procession around the outside of the parish church.

While the Feast of Corpus Christi is one of the ten Holy Days of Obligation in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, in some countries, including the United States, the feast has been transferred to the following Sunday.

Although its observance is optional, where kept, it is typically celebrated as a major holy day.”
(Thank you Wikipedia)

Here in Berlin, El Salvador, this is a highly celebrated holy day.

We celebrated this most holy day on Sunday the 10th of June.  Mass was an hour earlier than normal and Father Cándido presided.  He was in top form – walking amongst the people in the pews, asking questions and bantering in his most amicable manner.  I love this man!  He has such a beautiful way with his flock.  It was standing room only at this mass.  They even had plastic chairs on either side of the pews for extra seating.

After the hour and a half mass which was graced with lots of ‘cojetes’ (the loud rocket-type noise makers), they gathered up the Monstrance (also known as ‘ostensorium’ which is the vessel used to display the consecrated Eucharistic host, during Eucharistic adoration or Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. – thank you again, Wikipedia!)

We all followed.  First came the angels (children in white robes with wings and halos), then the altar boys and girls, a woman holding a Church banner, then the priest holding the Monstrance, surrounded by other lay people.  The priest and the Monstrance were shaded by a canopy held up with poles supported by four men.  After them was a guitar player, a chorus and speakers on a rolling stand.

There were 6 altars set up in the streets – created by individual families – decorated with flowers, fruits and vegetables, cut out images or photos and ornately covered with lovely white cloths.  We slowly processed to each one, singing and praying.  At each, the Monstrance was placed between the candles on a special place in the center of the altar.  The Lord’s Prayer and the Hail Mary were said: started by Father Santos and completed by the rest of us.  Then there was a prayer lead by Fr. Santos, followed by a reflection and prayer by different lay people.  And of course, singing. 

It took almost 3 hours to complete the procession after the mass. 

The faith traditions here are quite beautiful and always have great significance.  Even though I am not Catholic, and I don’t fully understand every nuance, I try to take the time to learn what each celebration is about.  And I find that I can embrace each tradition – not as my own – but as it is in the hearts of the people I love and who so graciously share with me their customs and traditions.  I am thankful and humbled for their acceptance of me in their midst. 

The first altar

Well attended procession

The second altar

The third altar

Add caption

the last altar

angels with cojetes ... these get lit and shot into the air and create a loud boom.

at the last altar - finding any bit of shade

Yes ... he is selling (or trying to sell) cotton candy during the procession

This woman can barely walk - but she honors this day

Confetti gets thrown

Father Santos

Beginning and ending at the church

1 comment:

Denise and Alan said...

Thanks, Kathy, for your wonderful writing. I always feel as if I'm there with you. Beautiful dresses and angel costumes, too......I think better than any I've seen at any church Christmas pageant :)