REFLECTIONS ON CORPUS CHRISTI
As I sit down to write this reflection, thinking back upon every aspect of our parish Corpus Christi celebration, my heart is full to overflowing with gratitude and joy. Gratitude first and foremost to God, the Giver of every good and beautiful gift. Gratitude to Our Lord Jesus, who not only suffered, died, and rose for our sake, but loved us so much that He left us the beautiful gift of His Body and Blood, to be our strength as we walk through this journey of life on the way to our final, heavenly homeland.
And, of course, gratitude for how many people came together for our beautiful Mass and the procession through the streets of New Haven! Those who were able to participate in that walk were able to see for themselves the impact. People walking down the sidewalks, stopping in their tracks as we approached. Families sitting in those outdoor cafés, children clearly looking up at their parents asking, “What’s going on?” Altar boys carrying Cross & candles, squires ringing bells, the girls in white dresses scattering flower petals, 4th Degree Knights of Columbus as an honor guard, the stunning canopy over the Blessed Sacrament, other priests carrying the 1st class relics of Blessed McGivney and St. John Paul II, the rosary banners, the statues, the singing… indeed no one along our route was able to avoid witnessing our public proclamation of faith! The firefighters (responding to a fire alarm elsewhere on Hillhouse Avenue) all lined up and standing at attention as the Blessed Sacrament passed them by. The older couple on a sidewalk along the route who, recognizing what was happening, got to their knees and bowed their heads when Our Lord was processed past them. I’m sure you who were there could add your own memories to this list.
Of course, the procession itself was not the only highlight. The beautiful music of the day lifted our hearts and spirits and what a joy it was to see so many people in our churches and in our city streets singing at full voice!
And when we packed St. Joseph Church singing those final hymns at Benediction… wow. Wow. With the acoustics of that space, it almost felt like the walls were shaking! And then after it all, to see everyone sitting outside enjoying the food and company, was the final great grace of the day. Whether catching up with old friends or meeting new ones, or simply kicking back and watching the children run through the field playing with their soccer balls, what a celebration of the goodness of life, of family, of parish… and really, ultimately, the goodness of God, which brings us right back to where we started this letter.
Finally, I would be remiss by not thanking the Corpus Christi planning committee. An event of this magnitude, with all of the logistics involved, should rightfully take six months to organize. Because of the changing COVID regulations and uncertainty about what would even be possible, our dedicated team of parishioners pulled off the entire thing in…yikes… a little under three weeks (!!!). I can’t say enough about how much effort this small(ish) but highly dedicated group of people put in. In addition, there was a flurry of work that all had to happen within the last 48 hours or so, and besides the planning team, others stepped forward to lend much needed help during that critical window. Whether it was serving on parking duty, scooping ice cream in the beating sun, carrying one of the liturgical items we processed with, helping to setup and/or breakdown the picnic on the St. Joseph grounds… every single contribution was critical. On behalf of the whole parish, my deepest thanks to all of you…may your reward be great in heaven!
Fr. John Paul