Saturday, December 17, 2011

Occupy Christmas: Priests take Eucharistic Lord to the Mall

"Flash Mobs" involving a priest bringing the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance to a public place are on the increase.   I'm heartened to see so much love and devotion for the Eucharist, and on the other hand I am somewhat conflicted.   I think conflict can be healthy as it makes us think and generates discussions. I hope you will weigh in with your thoughts.

Here is the latest, uploaded on December 14th. It happened in California.

One thing I know for sure: The priests and people of St. Raymond Parish are right to ask people to occupy Christmas. We should invite people just the same. Another thing I know is that this action, on the part of the shepherd and members of his flock is a fruit of love for Jesus in the Eucharist. That alone is refreshing considering what we have been through for the past 40-50 years where such things couldn't even be found happening in a parish church! 

Before I got to Assumption Grotto, I don't recall seeing a monstrance here in the US. It was on Corpus Christi in 2005, one of my earliest visits to the parish that I witnessed a Eucharistic procession for the first time. All at once it felt quaint yet mysterious, so much so that I took an interest in understanding all that I was seeing better. It decided to suspend my judgment of the matter, and to come back again and explore some more. 

I know some object to bringing the Eucharist into a crowded mall like this. Those likely to object already have a deep understanding of the Real Presence. I have no doubts about the love and reverence for Our Lord that the priests in this video have, nor do I doubt their good intentions. I can't help but wonder how many people witnessing this, who are not fully aware of the Real Presence might be inspired by the same sense of mystery that captivated me on Corpus Christi of 2005.   It's with that frame of mind that I see a purity and innocence on the part of those who want to share Jesus this way. 

Processions, unlike an event like this, with all of their solemnity and majesty are truly the most reverent and worthy manner of taking Our Lord out on to the street. There, Our Lord is surrounded by many ministers and servers, and covered with an ombrellino or a canopy, somewhat mindful of how the Israelites moved the Ark of the Covenant.

I wonder if we need to do more to make the public and ordinary Catholics aware of the Real Presence inside of our parishes and dioceses.  Actually, I know we need to do more.  How many parishes do not have a monstrance, or have one sitting in some dark corner of a room or basement collecting dust? We need to look at making those events more visible with better advertisement that reaches people who are not in the pews.

I am reminded here of the most moving Eucharistic Procession recorded on these shores. I would like to see more of these organized processions in public, with all that a Eucharistic procession entails.

Yeah - I think stuff like this matters.  All the more splendor that surrounds it, the greater the witness. Perhaps something should be organized, at the diocesan level, on a grand scale during Advent to convince people to "occupy Christmas".   It may not be traditional to have such a Eucharistic procession in Advent, but there are many new traditions worthy of starting.  

* Post updated for clarity.

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Kneeling Catholic said...


I do not like them wheeling our Lord in a stewardess' carry-on bag.

Sorry for sharpshooting, but really, maybe He could have been carried in a pyx and then placed in the monstrance upon arriving...?

RC said...

We are fortunate enough in the Boston area to have chapels in two area malls, and another across the street from a third mall.

This diocese really made an effort in the '50s and '60s to create these chapels in the marketplace, including one at Logan Airport and another at South Station. The latter no longer exists, but it was called Our Lady of the Railways.

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...


I really like that idea of having Adoration Chapels in places like malls and airports. Now that's what I'm talking about with regards to creating awareness.

I recall reading some years ago about priests hearing confessions in the malls too. Was that in Boston? I saw a news story on it and people were rediscovering their faith this way. Talk about meeting people where they are at.

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...

Kneeling Catholic,

I'm certain that no disrespect to Our Lord was intended, and I understand how it might offend the sensibilities of some people.

That said, I'll take this priest who carted a monstrance with Our Lord in the Eucharist into a busy mall any day over a priest who doesn't even know where the monstrance is at, or what to do with it.

Even there I should be more charitable. We have generations of priests whom I believe were actively discouraged from having things like Adoration and led to think that it was passe. I'm sure even some of the middle-aged and older priests are beginning to re-discover aspects of our faith that they too were cheated out of.

Only by the grace of God do we understand the Real Presence to the level that we do, and the importance of Adoration.

For the last 40-50 years we've been taught how much God loves us, all the while not being taught how to love Him back. Learning about, and following, the 10 Commandments is one thing we need to do. Prayer is another. But we've been conditioned, mainly through omission to do prayers of petition (to ask for favors). Few people understand the prayer of adoration, truly the purest form of prayer because here we give of ourselves, unconditionally, not for our sake, but for God's.

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...

One thing worth noting: The average age of those kneeling or showing other signs of reverence. There are some older people there, but most are younger. Are they all from the parish, or did some passers-by recognize it Our Lord and stop?

Whether they were all from the parish or not really doesn't matter. It's clear how the Holy Spirit is moving the younger generation in a way that is visibly devoted to the Eucharist, and to Mary.

Nick said...

There is no need to make a war for anything Christian. Just be holy. If you change yourself, you'll change the world. You can't change others before you change yourself. Trust in the Divine Will and Providence.

Dymphna said...

I don't like this at all. Priests should not be using Our Lords as part of a stunt.

Nick said...


I agree about the goodness of flash mobs and the good of defending what is good - in this case, Christian - in a prudent and just manner that is.

But I don't believe a "war on x" is good, prudent or just, because it is irrational and fueled by fallacies and bad politics.

I also don't believe using the Eucharist as a political weapon is good - except for the false cases where disobedient Catholics claim Bishops obeying Canon Law (like canon 915) is "using the Eucharist as a political weapon".

It is better to be holy and work for one's conversion. A saint is not indifferent to evil, nor does he try to change others before he changes himself. And he can pray and do penance for poor sinners.

Laymonk777 said...

As Kneeling Catholic said: "... really, maybe He could have been carried in a pyx and then placed in the monstrance upon arriving...?"

Agreed. I think this would have added a little more drama and needed reverence to this event.

Otherwise I'm in full support of taking Our Lord into the public in this way. Number one, we need to remind people that "He is The Reason for The Season".

Another thought: We don't know, are how many spectators were moved to find out more about our faith! I know if I were non-catholic, and I saw this spectacle with all of the reverence of the people, I would be asking many questions.

Also, I think the priests know more about how Our Lord may be handled in these circumstances, so I trust they know what they are doing.

Peace and Blessings...