Feast of Corpus Christi

In Brazil, the Feast of Corpus Christi is celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday with a mass and public procession when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed.   On this public holiday, it is customary to decorate the procession route  with tapetes or salt carpets honouring Christ and illustrating symbols of the Catholic church.   Unlike the flower and petal displays you would find in street processions in Europe, in Brazil, salt, sawdust, coffee and sand are used.

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Feliz Páscoa – A Corumbáense Easter

Easter for the catholic church is a huge celebration.  Coming at the end of the Lenten period, when many observe praying, fasting and alms-giving, Easter becomes a joyful time to celebrate the risen Christ.  Last year I spent the Triduum – Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday – at a silent retreat, with the religious order, the Poor Servants of the Mother of God, at Kairos Centre in Roehampton, London.  I recall writing in my journal  about the Greek word  ‘Kairos’ , which means “favourable time or graced moment”. Taking a couple lines from one of the convent’s posters,  I wrote “Now is the favourable time and Christ is its turning point.  Kairos time calls for an openness to the future and Kairos encourages us to let go and let God”.  DSCF5251So here I am one year later, in Brazil, experiencing Easter the brazilian way and slowly learning to let go and let God.

The week commenced with Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos), a joyous celebration of palm waving during the opening procession walk at Cristo Redentor followed by a mass with lively singing.  Holy Thursday turned out to be a special mass where the priest, as Christ representative washed the feet of parishioners. What made the service so special at Don Bosco parish was the difference in how this ritual was performed. Padre Pascal the parish priest began washing the feet of  teenagers who in turn moved into the congregation to wash the feet of parishioners.  The words, “Do this in memory of me” kept playing over and over in my mind as I watched these teenagers take up the mantle of serving others as Jesus had demonstrated.

DSCF5448DSCF5419On Good Friday, I visited the local parish with the intent of spending a few hours quietly in adoration. Surprisingly, group after group of children and young people kept coming and going every hour as part of their time to watch and pray with the Lord on this holy day of remembering His death.  By early evening, a small group of young people and leaders from Don Bosco project, CAIJ, (my place of work)  joined with other parishes for the Stations of the Cross street procession through the streets of central Corumbá.

DSCF5440DSCF5433We would stop at different homes, each representing one of the fourteen stations telling the story leading up to the crucifixion of Our Lord.  The families had set up small altar type tables decorated with flowers and adorned with devotions to their saints, Mother Mary or Jesus.   As we stopped to pray at each station-home, Padre Pascal in the lead would greet families, give a blessing and pray. So beautiful.  Motorists stopped their cars to pray stations with us.   Passers-by emerged from shops to give reverence to the occasion.  Children ran to watch the procession.  The young lad playing the part of the soldier struck the ground repeatedly with his real whip as we made our way up the steep hill; Jesus carrying his cross, falling three times to the wails and cries of the young  womenfolk.  It all seemed so real and moved me to tears.

Two hours later, we jumped into the Kombi and made our to way Parque da Independencia for an outdoor musical theatre “the story of Jesus”, performed by another group of teenagers.  The story span the life of Jesus Christ from birth to resurrection.  Saturday we returned to the parish of Don Bosco for the Easter Vigil and awoke early for an Easter Sunday mass at the local parish of Cristo Redentor.  Jesus is Risen, indeed!

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