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Corpus Christi, other eucharistic processions draw attention to Jesus, not to themselves

Catholics should draw attention to Jesus, not to themselves 

The Catholic Way describes the manner in which Catholics should approach service — under the radar and without fanfare. Many Catholics adhere to this principle, doing good deeds for the sake of doing good deeds as opposed to doing them for personal attention.

The Bible tells us so.

Matthew's Gospel reports Jesus saying to his disciples: "Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them;" and "When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do ... to win the praise others." Further, Jesus says prayers should be done in private, not on "street corners so that others may see them."

These passages are quite clear about the subject, but Jesus emphatically drives home the point, telling the disciples, "do not let your left hand know what your right is doing."

The discrete approach has served Catholics for about 2,000 years, but that isn't to suggest that any and all attention is bad, to be avoided at all costs. In this era of the seemingly endless news cycle and the always-on Internet, it's difficult and nearly impossible to avoid attracting attention; the key is to not purposely draw attention to oneself. In this way, some attention is good, especially when it gives glory and bears witness to God alive in this world, Jesus Christ.

We're speaking of the "Real Presence," meaning Jesus Christ literally present in the Eucharist. The common bread and wine aren't symbolic of Jesus' body and blood; they ARE his body and blood, the transubstantiation of bread and wine into flesh though retaining their original forms.

This transubstantiation occurs countless times every day in Masses around the world as priests celebrate the pascal mystery.

"By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: His Body and His Blood, with His soul and His divinity" ("Catechism of the Catholic Church," 1413).

As the Real Presence, the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. At communion, if we're in a state of grace, we happily receive it. We also get to venerate the Eucharist in adoration, Benediction and processions.

"The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers to the sacrament of the Eucharist the cult of adoration, not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving the consecrated hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and carrying them in procession" (CCC 1378).

Such eucharistic processions occurred June 18 — the feast of Corpus Christi, which means Body of Christ — at parishes throughout the Archdiocese of St. Louis. In this issue of the St. Louis Review, we detail one such Corpus Christi procession in the Delmar Loop of University City — attention-grabbing, to say the least.

But not attention-grabbing for the sake of drawing attention to oneself, but attention-grabbing to draw attention to the paschal mystery, the Real Presence of Jesus in the Monstrance.

Deacon Matt Witte carried the Monstrance for a segment of the Corpus Christi procession at Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. He has done so for the past three years, describing it as "a huge blessing and a humbling privilege." Processing beneath a canopy held by Knights of Columbus, he carried "a beautiful container containing our Lord," but minimized his role by holding the Monstrance in front of his face.

"I keep telling myself over and over again how I want to disappear behind the face of the Monstrance," stated Deacon Witte, who learned this disappearing act by watching Archbishop Robert J. Carlson in action at such processions. "I don't want anyone to be distracted by my face. I am simply in the transportation business."

In other words, in accord with Bible teaching, it's not about him. It's about Him. 

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