Let's consider the idea that, in order to shape a community's story, we have to tell our story in a way that invites people into relationship with all the beauty and full flavour of Catholic diversity and unity in the Truth. The Catholic mission is ultimately an invitation to wisdom, the wisdom of the Gospel of Jesus Christ Who informs and redeems souls. The Catholic mission is to invite all to intimate communion with Jesus and His Church, to propose the Gospel for the salvation of souls.
the faithful are religiously and culturally illiterate, unable to speak the creative language of evangelization which employs methods and means that are intrinsic to the formation of the whole person: body, mind and spirit.
The procession represents a non-confrontational way to confront society with the reality of the Faith, the reality that Christians are present at the heart of every community.
Prayer, music, colour, ritual, vestments, incense and, most importantly in the case of Eucharistic processions, Christ's Presence held aloft for all to see and encounter—perhaps with curiosity and maybe even disdain (by those who really do hate the Church)—together constitute an opportunity for encounter with a real Person, Jesus Christ, and His people. Encounter can be an opportunity for crisis, an opportunity to confront one's own biases, an opportunity to examine one's understanding and evaluate one's convictions.
The religious procession has the potential to appeal to many kinds of "learners".
In our fair city, rainbow flag pedestrian crossings have been painted on campus and city streets. Negative associations aside, the idea is a clever one. Surely we can do better, however, than a mere crosswalk painted with candy colours by instead providing a living witness, a religious parade with banners identifying the Church's many corporal and spiritual charities: Saint Vincent de Paul, help for pregnant mothers, hospitals, schools, etc.
Have we been hiding our lamp under a bushel? Have we surrendered our love of celebration? Have we abandoned our robust Catholic confidence in the Incarnation for puritanical restraint and Canadian "niceness"?
In many ways, we in North America have reduced the great feasts of the Church to two dimensional celebrations as flat as the paper upon which their record is printed. The Church's feasts—memorials, solemnities—are about real life, real events, real people. The Church's feasts are a celebration of divine revelation—the Nativity, the Institution of the Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the descent of the Holy Spirit... man's salvation in Christ!
The Church's feasts often recall the lives of the saints who inspire us by their example and who continue to pray for us. Should not the Church's feasts, which are public celebrations, be more convincing events that more resemble the character of a celebration? If we're hosting a party, shouldn't we take it into the streets? Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem was not a polite event conducted by librarians (Apologies to all librarians!). Think shouts of 'Hosanna!' and other joy-filled exclamations. Jesus' procession was about as in-your-face as one can imagine, which is why His arrival provoked concern among the powers that be. "Hosanna to the Son of David, the King of Israel!" That's a claim to a throne that some were not eager to concede to Jesus.
When we celebrate His kingship, we should not be surprised to encounter persecution as Jesus suffered for His witness to the Gospel. To be sure, the lords of this world will feel just as threatened by our open-air celebrations of the Lord of Hosts, and we will suffer for proposing Jesus in such a manner. The question is, will we meet our persecutors in the street where all may see and learn from encounters, or will we allow ourselves to cower in fear and self doubt behind closed doors waiting for the sturmabteilung to lock us out of our churches, shut down our schools and hospitals and run us out of our jobs? Even if we lose everything, let us lose it for Christ, for living the Faith whole and undefiled in a way that witnesses to Him alone Who should be our life and hope.
So, let's get the parties (processions, festivals, pilgrimages) started!