Eucharistic procession sign of hope for healing, renewal
Contrasted with other times during 2020 when people took to the streets of Richmond, the procession that circled the exterior of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart the morning of Nov. 7 could have appeared to the smattering of VCU students nearby to be nothing more than a group of people, socially distant, out for a walk, enjoying a warm, colorful day.
However, together they were a personified message where it needed to be seen, according to Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge.
“I believe a eucharistic procession provides important lessons for our Church and our nation to embrace, especially at this time. This is the heart of the procession: Jesus leads, and we follow,” said the bishop during his homily preceding the Holy Hour. “If we allow the truth of his Gospel to guide us, we will be on the right path and will move forward in the right direction.”
Bishop Burbidge noted the turmoil and injustices that the nation is experiencing.
“Now, more than ever, it is Jesus we must bring into our streets and communities in the sure and certain hope that he will heal, renew and unite us,” he said. “That is what we will actually do today: carry Jesus in a eucharistic procession on our streets and into a world desperately in need of his presence and saving work.”
As a cantor chanted “Adoro te Devote,” Bishop Barry C. Knestout, holding the Blessed Sacrament, led 80 members of the faithful, including bishops, priests, deacons and laity, in what Bishop Burbidge termed a “powerful reminder” that the faithful do not walk alone, but rather as brothers and sisters.
“Our Church and nation need our witness to this unity,” he said. “Such unity is made visible when we revere all of human life, recognize and protect the dignity of each and every person; respect and encourage one another, forgive those who have offended us and take care of those in most need.”
Bishop Burbidge noted the impact of the pandemic had changed “radically the way we live and worship.”
“Perhaps these months have reminded us of how easy it is to take the precious gift of the holy Eucharist for granted and to lose what St. John Paul II referred to as ‘eucharistic wonder and awe,’” he said. “We will always have that wonder and awe when we receive the gift with devotion.”
Bishop Burbidge related that near the end of his life, a frail St. John Vianney led a eucharistic procession. When a participant said, “You must be very tired,” John Vianney replied, “How could I be tired? The One whom I carried likewise carried me.”
The bishop said those words were fitting for the faithful of the Diocese of Richmond.
“Allow Jesus to carry you as you embark on a bright and promising future,” he said. “Entrust your cares, burdens and crosses to the Lord in the firm belief that he sustains, nourishes and carries us here on earth so that we, who are united to him, may reach the final destination for which we all long: life with him in heaven.”