Thursday, 7 June 2018

Corpus Christi by Lake Como

I recall that, early in his pontificate, Pope Francis observed that it is popular devotions that represent the inculturation of the Gospel in a particular place. I was reminded of this last week when Zero and I were able to take part in the celebration of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi in the town of Bellano on Lake Como. We had noticed earlier in the week a notice of the celebration of the feast to take place on the Thursday at the Church of Saints Nazaro and Celso in the town square.

A solemn Mass, at a level that might have been typical of a reasonably capable parish, was celebrated at 8 pm. Ambrosian Rite (scroll down the page to find an account of the differences of the Ambrosian Rite from the Roman Rite), including with the particular Eucharistic Prayer that that rite has for the celebration of Maundy Thursday and other Eucharistic feasts. I particularly noticed the manner of the incensations (you can't really miss it!) and the blessing of the readers.

As Zero expressed it, the parish priest was someone who visibly communicated the joy of Christ (I'm not sure how well I translated that into Italian for him at the end of the procession!). The first communion children and their families were out in force, and there was a comfortably full Church. There was a choir, and three concelebrating priests. Parishioners seemed to be very familiar with the hymns being sung.

At the end of Mass we all moved out of the Church to form up outside for the Eucharistic procession. This was well organised - we were organised to walk in two lines at either side of the road, led by a cross and candles, with the town band about half way down the procession and the Blessed Sacrament carried under its canopy towards the rear. Loudspeakers carried on poles ensured that all could hear the meditations (on Gospel accounts of the meetings of Jesus with people on the roads), and the band played gentle music during times of our own meditations. The procession followed a loop around the town, including along the main lake side provincial road which was closed for half an hour or so. At the lake, there was a pause while the lake was blessed with the Blessed Sacrament, and a prayer offered of both thanksgiving for the lake and sorrow for those who have died in accidents on the lake.

And then back to the Church, through the narrow lanes of the town, for concluding prayers and Benediction. As we all left the Church, the town band played a short concert in the square outside.

Over the years, Zero and I have taken part in several Eucharistic processions during our holidays - one year at Rivotorto parish during a visit to Assisi and on another occasion at the International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec in 2008. Bellano provided an experience as moving as any of them.

No comments: