“Come, let us sing joyfully to the Lord…Enter, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the Lord who made us. For this is our God, whose people we are.” Psalm 95: 1, 6-7
The procession is not just a mechanical necessity—getting the players from one point to another—it is also a richly symbolic ritual. The processional is the symbol of our pilgrimage toward heaven; our journey together through life to God.
The processional varies: sometimes it is short, sometimes long and dramatic; it may include altar servers, the lector, choir and priest, or it may be sparsely populated. These differences represent us nonetheless, and the unique journey we are all on toward God.
Often, at the head of the processional, the crucifer, or altar server bearing a cross, leads the way. This simple image is a reminder that Jesus is our “leader to salvation…made perfect through suffering.” (Hebrews 2:10)
“The procession moves, outwardly, at a dignified pace. Inwardly, however, and spiritually, we are hastening to heaven, behind the leader who goes before us: Jesus Christ, crucified, risen, and glorified.” (The Mass, pg 95)
This, the Church’s most basic blessing and fundamental prayer, is both a gesture and a vocal prayer. As the cross is traced across the upper body—forehead, chest, left to right—the priests say: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” and the congregation replies: “Amen.”
With words, the Trinity is proclaimed—Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three in one. In action, God’s love for the human race is reflected: his descent from heaven to earth, taking flesh, and then ascending to heaven, taking our glorified human nature with him.
Through this act, we are reminded of the redeeming act of Christ on the Cross, and we are ushered into celebration. After all, that is what the Mass is all about—the celebration of Jesus, his life, his sacrifice, his resurrection, and his glory.
Come back next Sunday for Mass 101 Part 8: The Penitential Rite!