The Monday before the Kentucky Derby traditionally features the annual banquet sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Bishop Spalding Council. It is always an exhilarating affair in which people who have not seen each other for a while come together to share a meal. At this banquet, the Knights of Columbus give out donations to organizations that help people with disabilities from the funds that they have raised throughout the year, and they honor a racing personality in the presence of the Derby Queen and her court. This year’s award was renamed in honor of John Asher, who died so suddenly two years ago, and the first awardee is the voice of U of L Cardinal basketball and football, Paul Rogers.
It was especially exciting to attend the banquet this year in person. It was my first time in over a year to dine with more than a few people. I was delighted, and I could tell by the mood of the crowd that everyone was relieved and pleased. With God’s help and our safe public health measures, we continue to emerge from the restrictions of the pandemic. It will be a glorious time!
This month of May devoted to our Blessed Mother is a great time to thank God our Father, through her intercession, for the blessings we have received as life after the pandemic begins to be discovered. I am also pleased that we are coming close to the Solemnity of Corpus Christi on Sunday, June 6. Each year we give thanks and glory to God for the precious gift that flows from the promise of Jesus that He will be with us always. At the Last Supper, he said, “Take and eat, this is my body … Drink it, all of you, this is my blood, which seals God’s covenant, my blood poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew: 26:26f) With these words, Jesus anticipated His sacrificial death on the cross for us, an action completed by His resurrection — the great paschal mystery.
I was so pleased to learn that there is a Corpus Christi procession planned for June 6 that you will read more about in the near future. The exhilaration that I felt at the Knights of Columbus Derby Dinner is nothing compared to what it will be like to walk in procession to the Cathedral with other people of faith honoring the real presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. We hunger and thirst to gather around Christ with great joy!
All parish groups or individuals are welcome to attend the Noon Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption. Immediately after Mass, participants will depart the Cathedral for the Belvedere and join others already assembled there. The formal Corpus Christi Procession will leave the Belvedere at 2 p.m. and process to the Cathedral — stopping at particular stations along 5th Street for prayer and reflection. Benediction will take place at the Cathedral after the procession. The procession on June 6 will be done safely and in person. Social distancing will be observed. Masks are required for indoor liturgies and continue to be recommended outdoors for those who have not been vaccinated.
As I look back on this year of restrictions in our efforts to worship, I am aware of what I might call the miracle of live streaming. This miracle will surely continue for those confined to their home by age, infirmity or distance. Concerning the latter, some have told me of the great benefits for people who live far away and who can now somehow be engaged on the occasion of a funeral or a wedding. The yearning that we feel in our hearts and the exhilaration that comes from being in person with others, however, is seen most especially as we recall the words of Jesus: “Take and eat. This is my body.”
Someone told me recently how grateful she was to participate in live streaming, but she said in some fashion her family still felt like a spectator and she yearns for the opportunity to return to the Holy Eucharist in person. As I travel throughout the Archdiocese, I see more and more people returning to full participation in the Holy Eucharist.
I was especially struck by a phrase in the opening prayer for the fifth Sunday of Easter: “Constantly accomplish the Paschal mystery within us.” We have high hopes when we come together as one body in Christ to celebrate the saving death and resurrection of Jesus for our salvation each Sunday as His grace accomplishes within us the saving death and resurrection, and we are transformed more deeply in the mystery of Christ.
There is a natural enthusiasm when we come together for a Kentucky Derby event in Louisville. This pales in significance when once again you and I ask others to join us in the grand procession, which is the entrance procession each Sunday as we return to the Holy Eucharist. While we are not yet ready for full participation with completely open churches, we are moving steadily in that direction. The procession on Sunday, June 6, for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi will be a public event that fills our hearts with joy. As I look forward to this opportunity, I am reminded of the African proverb, “When you pray, move your feet.” We move our feet as, together, we become more clearly the Body of Christ flowing from His Eucharistic presence.