Here in Guatemala, the feast of Corpus Christi is awesome. The whole diocese celebrates it together on the appointed day but in the following weeks, each particular parish church has its own celebration of Corpus Christi. These celebrations are a big deal… A really big deal. In the larger churches, they are celebrated as an octave beginning on a Sunday with Mass.
The Mass is followed by a Eucharistic procession complete with choir, band, and 5-6 Thurifers with huge thuribles (like thuribles the size of the head of the kid who’s swinging it) and fireworks/ firecrackers. The procession passes through most of the parish grounds stopping along the way at homemade altars in homes and businesses (about 25 of them in our case) for moments of Adoration, and a Eucharistic blessing for the faithful and their homes. It’s a real testament to how deeply the Catholic faith has influenced the culture of this place that city blocks can be completely shut down by this procession. The faith’s inundation of the culture here in Guatemala is a beautiful thing to witness because it can provide support to the Church in her disciple-making mission. People who grow up in a culture which is filled with Catholicism are naturally inclined to have an appreciation for the faith’s beauty. This procession is a great example:
However, being in a place which is culturally Catholic is not enough to guarantee that a person will continue to persevere in the faith. It is not enough to have a culture of Catholicism. The most important thing that the Church can do in the world is to make disciples. Period. Having a cultural Catholicism without committed discipleship turns the Church into just another social service organization. It is a recipe for disaster for the Church. We exist to make disciple of all nations, and whenever any part of the Church forgets its disciple-making mission, it forgets the very end for which the Church was created. Failure and mediocrity are not far behind because the focus has been turned away from fulfilling Jesus’s mission and towards something else.
To do this, we have to remain focused on introducing people to Christ. At one moment during the procession last week this point was driven home to me in a new way. Like I mentioned before firecrackers and fireworks are must haves on the standard Corpus Christi procession checklist, and at one point there was so much noise that I could hardly think. It sounded like all hell was breaking loose around me. (Check out the end of the video above for an example.) At that point, I looked up at the Blessed Sacrament in front of me and asked Jesus what he wanted me to learn from that moment. I asked partly because the noise – beautiful as the true devotion that inspired it was – was not my cup of spiritual-tea, and honestly, I would have preferred a bit more silence. What I realized was that Christ was calling me to remain focused on him despite the noise and commotion of the external trimmings of the procession. The lesson for me that day was that the most important thing I can do is to remain focused intensely on Christ.
We all need to find Him amongst the craziness of our lives. The beautiful thing about this realization is that to we have but to look up, and we will realize that Christ is with us amongst the everyday hustle and bustle of our lives. He already is walking with us in whatever situation we find ourselves and desires that we share our struggles with him so that we can learn to walk like him. This is the life of a disciple – to learn to walk like the Master and with the Master. As a Church, we must constantly guide people to encounters with Christ. We have to help them look up so they can be disciples.