Hundreds of faithful of the Archdiocese participated in the Mass and Corpus Christi procession through the streets of downtown Montreal, on Thursday evening, May 26, 2016.
The Mass was presided by the Archbishop of Montreal, Most Reverend Christian Lépine, who, during his homily, placed all the emphasis on the healing power of Christ.
"Our Lord heals. We are currently being healed. What slows us down, is that we want to understand everything; as though we were saying to ourselves, "As long as I don't understand how this medicine works, I refuse to take it!" God doesn't promise to tell us how he heals; but he does it. That's all."
The entire Eucharistic Celebration was accompanied by the music of the unparalleled choir Communion [&] Libération, directed by Mark Basik. The lead cantor and soloist, Anne-Claire Oger, led the entire assembly into a profound interiority, and helped it set off on a fervent procession.
Like every year, the precession made its way down Saint Catherine Street to Saint Patrick's Basilica.
Bearing red candles and banners of their parishes, movements, groups, and even saints, a thousand faithful walked down the steps of Mary Queen of the World Cathedral singing "Laudate Dominum."
On sidewalks and balconies, onlookers were intrigued: "What is this?" asked a lady holding her small dog in her arms: "It's Corpus Christi! We're celebrating God! Look! He's right up front! Up ahead!" someone answered, rosary in hand, pointing at the highly visible Blessed Sacrament that Most Reverend Lépine was carrying.
On Saint Catherine Street, we interviewed a young couple walking arm in arm, if not cheek to cheek: "Why is it important to you to be here tonight?" - "We are here to pray for this city, this province, this country, which welcomed us eight years ago. We came to thank God, to give him glory for our marriage; we are both from Columbia and we met here in Montreal, at our parish church!"
Three handsome young men in their early twenties came to "celebrate Jesus": "We are from Saint Thomas à Becket Parish, we are Polish, and we are gong to WYD this summer, so it's impossible for us not to attend Corpus Christi!" they stated, visibly happy.
Then I spoke with four ladies, all dressed in sky blue taffeta dresses: "What group do you belong to?" - "We don't belong to any group; we are Lebanese, all wives and mothers, and we keep up our native tradition; during the month of May, the month dedicated to Mary, we wear the Virgin's dress for the entire month!" Choukrane, ladies!
The procession arrived at Saint Patrick's Basilica and was engulfed by the ringing of bells. I talked to another young couple, radiant, he with a big beard, and she with her veil: "We have recently converted to Catholicism," said Mickael... "It's our first Corpus Christi! We came to thank God for revealing himself to us," Julie added.
Clementine, from St-Germain Parish in Outremont, and Rami, member of the Chemin Neuf Community, good friends that regularly visit the Benoît-Lacroix Student Centre, really wanted to attend: "It is a really important celebration. It's the joy of being gathered among Christians. It's beautiful to see all these Christians in the streets of Montreal... with Jesus, who is here, just in front of us, and who is leading the way! It's a powerful source of hope."
All these wonderful people took their seats at Saint Patrick's Basilica, warmly welcomed by its pastor, Msgr. Francis Coyle, and eagerly and attentively listened to the testimony of Father Francesco Giordano as he spoke of his love for the Eucharist in his everyday life.
It was all brought to a close with the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, the traditional "Tantum Ergo," and the Litany of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
In closing, here are a few words that the Archbishop said in the sacristy before the celebration: "Corpus Christi, is a celebration of God, who has drawn himself near to us. It is a beautiful Church tradition that we have been practicing for several centuries. In Montreal, we are graced by the fact that this tradition is still alive to unite the people of God, who want to be close to God, the way God is close to them."