A Eucharistic Procession for the Solemnity of Christ the King


Image Courtesy of Zachary Lichter

By Zachary Lichter

November 26th is the Solemnity of Christ the King, however since Thanksgiving break begins November 22nd, CUA’s Campus Ministry St. John Paul II (JP II) Seminary, Student Government Association, and the Knights of Columbus decided to host a Eucharistic procession a week early after the 11:00 a.m. Mass on Sunday, November 19th, in the St. Vincent de Paul Chapel

The Solemnity of Christ the King is a celebration of Jesus Christ on the last Sunday of the liturgical year. The feast day was created by Pope Pius XI in 1925 when he was responding to the growing problem of secularism and atheism. Catholics now celebrate the Feast of Christ the King to express their faith to the public. The solemnity is a reminder that while many bad things are happening in the world, Christ lives and reigns forever. It also encourages people not to fear publicly living out their faith; a Eucharistic procession is a great example of someone living out their faith because people are walking in a group outside, praying and chanting to the Blessed Sacrament.

“It’s customary in the Church to hold a procession at the end of the liturgical year to process with our Lord on the Solemnity of Christ the King,” Father Bernard Kanpke, Director of Liturgy at CUA, said. “It’s certainly evocative of His entry into Jerusalem when you know He is hailed as King and we hail Him as our true King on this feast day.”

The festivities leading up to the procession began with Mass at the St. Vincent de Paul Chapel. Father Kevin Regan, Vice-Rector and Dean of Students at JP II, was the principal celebrant and homilist. Father Aquinas Guilbeau, the University Chaplain and Vice President of Ministry and Mission, and Father Bernard were the concelebrants. The six altar servers at the Mass consisted of seminarians from JP II and members of the Knights of Columbus. Before Mass officially began, Father Bernard welcomed everyone. He explained why the Eucharistic Procession was on the Sunday before Thanksgiving and not the actual day and how the procession would start from the St. Vincent de Paul Chapel and end at an outdoor altar in front of the entrance of the JP II Seminary.

Since the Eucharistic Procession for the Solemnity of Christ the King was a week early, the Readings for the Mass were still for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. The First Reading was from the Book of Proverbs (Prov. 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31) and read by Anthony Miranda, a JP II seminarian in his third year. He also did the Prayer of the Faithful later in the Mass. The Second Reading was from the First Book of Thessalonians (1 Thes. 5: 1-6) and read by Juliana Gahr, a senior psychology major and philosophy and theology minors. Father Regan read Sunday’s Gospel from the Gospel of Matthew (Mt. 25: 14-30). Then he said the homily by introducing himself and saying there is an overarching theme of fearing the Lord in many of the Mass readings during November. He said that people are free to be fearful to enter into a relationship with God, which he alluded to in the Gospel reading. Father Regan also noted that fear of the Lord is about trusting God and listening to how He wants people to live their lives, whatever He calls them to be.

Communion was given out, the crowd had to remain kneeling because an altar server came out from the sacristy with a monstrance, and the Blessed Sacrament was exposed. When Father Regan put a host inside the lunette, he genuflected and returned to his seat. After the Prayer After Communion, Father Regan returned to the sacristy to put on his cope and humeral veil. Father Aquinas and Father Bernard also went back inside the sacristy to change out of their vestments. While that was happening, the altar server carrying the incense moved to the left side of the altar, swinging the thurible until the three of them came out. Everyone then knelt as Father Regan was incensing the Blessed Sacrament from the front of the altar. Father Aquinas and Father Bernard knelt with the crowd in their Dominican habits, chanting “O Salutaris Hostia”(O Saving Victim in Latin). 

The procession then began with a  campus police officer leading towards Flather Hall. He then had everyone make a left on the path going to Centennial Village. Once everyone got to the cul-de-sac, everyone made a right on Fort Slemmer Dr. Then, everyone turned right onto the sidewalk of Harewood Rd. Finally, he blocked traffic so everyone could cross Taylor St. and then make a final left turn into the entrance of the JP II Seminary. 

The procession line began with the cross-bearer and candle-bearers, Father Aquinas, and an altar server carrying the boat with the incense inside. There were two altar servers carrying thuribles, who rotated every few minutes, incensing the Blessed Sacrament. Father Regan was holding the Blessed Sacrament, standing inside a canopy held by four members of the Knights of Columbus. CUA’s President, Dr. Peter Kilpatrick, stood right behind him. Father Bernard was holding a microphone and led everyone in chanting, “Holy God, We Praise, Thy Name,” “Litany of Saints,” ”Adoro Te Devote,” and “Pange Lingua.”

Upon arriving at the front entrance of the JPII Seminary, the crowd was joined by seven seminarians and Father Carter Griffin, Rector of the JP II Seminary. Everyone knelt and began the Benediction by chanting “Tantum Ergo.” Father Regan and one of the altar servers carrying the thurible made it up to the top of the steps where the outdoor altar was. He then incensed the Blessed Sacrament and chanted, “You have given them the bread from Heaven.” He then chanted the “Prayer for the Blessed Sacrament” and blessed everyone with the Blessed Sacrament. Finally, everyone prayed the “Divine Praises.”

“It was beautiful!” Ryan Corey, a sophomore philosophy and theology major said. “It was fantastic! I wasn’t expecting at all to be holding the canopy. I got reached out and I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity, especially in the Solemnity of Christ the King. And we were standing outside St. Vinnie’s, just holding the canopy in our hands. It was just great because the anticipation was incredible to know that Jesus, our King to be able to process with him back to JPII Seminary. I knew it was a wonderful opportunity to grow in faith and devotion to the Most Holy Eucharist.”

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