What is the point of the procession?


#1

Is the procession meant to be a symbol of Christ entering? If so, then why does there need to be a closing procession as a symbol of Christ leaving? It would seem to contradict the sense of Christ being intimately present with us through the Eucharist, if we have to see Christ leave the place.


#2

The purpose of the Entrance procession is not to symbolize Christ entering. It is "to open the celebration, foster the unity of those who have been gathered, introduce their thoughts to the mystery of the liturgical time or festivity, and accompany the procession of the Priest and ministers."(GIRM 121) In a sense it is a time of transition from the profane to the sacred. The ministers pass through the midst of the assembly showing that they are part of the assembly but also ministers to the assembly. The song is a unitive device that also introduces the theme as will be expressed in the readings and the prayers or the particular season.

The recessional is again the ministers going though the assembly who are now all one Body in Christ and sent forth to live the Gospel. If you want to get really symbolic, all should be following the ministers out in procession.


#3

[quote="Joannm, post:2, topic:315629"]
The purpose of the Entrance procession is not to symbolize Christ entering. It is "to open the celebration, foster the unity of those who have been gathered, introduce their thoughts to the mystery of the liturgical time or festivity, and accompany the procession of the Priest and ministers."(GIRM 121) In a sense it is a time of transition from the profane to the sacred. The ministers pass through the midst of the assembly showing that they are part of the assembly but also ministers to the assembly. The song is a unitive device that also introduces the theme as will be expressed in the readings and the prayers or the particular season.

The recessional is again the ministers going though the assembly who are now all one Body in Christ and sent forth to live the Gospel. If you want to get really symbolic, all should be following the ministers out in procession.

[/quote]

Ah. Now I get it.

Thanks so much for that!


#4

[quote="Joannm, post:2, topic:315629"]
The purpose of the Entrance procession is not to symbolize Christ entering. It is "to open the celebration, foster the unity of those who have been gathered, introduce their thoughts to the mystery of the liturgical time or festivity, and accompany the procession of the Priest and ministers."(GIRM 121) In a sense it is a time of transition from the profane to the sacred. The ministers pass through the midst of the assembly showing that they are part of the assembly but also ministers to the assembly. The song is a unitive device that also introduces the theme as will be expressed in the readings and the prayers or the particular season.

The recessional is again the ministers going though the assembly who are now all one Body in Christ and sent forth to live the Gospel. If you want to get really symbolic, all should be following the ministers out in procession.

[/quote]

Great explanation!


#5

[quote="Joannm, post:2, topic:315629"]
The purpose of the Entrance procession is not to symbolize Christ entering. It is "to open the celebration, foster the unity of those who have been gathered, introduce their thoughts to the mystery of the liturgical time or festivity, and accompany the procession of the Priest and ministers."(GIRM 121) In a sense it is a time of transition from the profane to the sacred. The ministers pass through the midst of the assembly showing that they are part of the assembly but also ministers to the assembly. The song is a unitive device that also introduces the theme as will be expressed in the readings and the prayers or the particular season.

The recessional is again the ministers going though the assembly who are now all one Body in Christ and sent forth to live the Gospel. If you want to get really symbolic, all should be following the ministers out in procession.

[/quote]

Or for some...the recessional is the people to beat out to the parking lot:D


#6

Also, the procession in can be viewed as entering heaven, metaphorically; since the Holy Mass is the closest we can get to Paradise from this side. So the priest, the one who actually confects the Eucharist and makes "first contact" with the physical Christ, dares to enter knowing that he is a sinful man; to me, it harkens back to our roots as Catholics in Jewish worship.

Hopefully I haven't said anything heretical; please correct me with citations if I'm wrong!


#7

[quote="NickD, post:6, topic:315629"]
Also, the procession in can be viewed as entering heaven, metaphorically; since the Holy Mass is the closest we can get to Paradise from this side. So the priest, the one who actually confects the Eucharist and makes "first contact" with the physical Christ, dares to enter knowing that he is a sinful man; to me, it harkens back to our roots as Catholics in Jewish worship.

Hopefully I haven't said anything heretical; please correct me with citations if I'm wrong!

[/quote]

I would have thought of it a different way. The last words of the Mass, as you know, are "Ite Missa est" -- "Go, you are sent." The Mass abruptly ends right after the Eucharist because the idea is that now you have to go out into the world bearing and sharing Christ.

With the explanation Joannm gave us, I would have looked at it as the priest leading us out to do our job.


#8

We should also remember that there is no requirement for a recessional. After the Final Blessing and Dismissal the Mass is over. The priest can simply exit to the sacristy as he often did when the sacristy was accessible from behind the altar, as it still is in the parish where I grew up.

At the Cathedral parish in St. John’s, Newfoundland, the hymnals (CBWIII) are picked up at the back of the church as you walk in. At the end of the Mass you do follow the the priest and ministers, still singing, and replace your hymnal on your way out of the door. When the hymn has been sung the organist plays until everyone is out the door – except during Lent, of course.


#9

Processions are done probably for reasons of pure convenience and historical reasons. A Mass has different people: priest, deacon, maybe subdeacon, servers, master(s) of ceremonies, bishop maybe, cardinal, etc. There can be massive numbers of people, and so a procession just makes sense. What else are they to do, come in at their own pace at different times? That would be slobbish. Be there before everyone else ready to go? A waste of time and unofficial, more like a business meeting.

Processions, when well coordinated and with the requisite ministers, are grand, glorious things. They look good, they smell good, and they give a sense of nobility to liturgy. In the same way a king or queen processes with court, liturgical ministers (excluding, I hope, EMs...) process together with the celebrant. A procession is just a simple way of coordinating things in a becoming manner. We have wedding processions, royal processions, graduation processions, sometimes processions of participants in a court of law, and so on. It just lends dignity to the event.


#10

[quote="Phemie, post:8, topic:315629"]
We should also remember that there is no requirement for a recessional. After the Final Blessing and Dismissal the Mass is over. The priest can simply exit to the sacristy as he often did when the sacristy was accessible from behind the altar, as it still is in the parish where I grew up.

At the Cathedral parish in St. John's, Newfoundland, the hymnals (CBWIII) are picked up at the back of the church as you walk in. At the end of the Mass you do follow the the priest and ministers, still singing, and replace your hymnal on your way out of the door. When the hymn has been sung the organist plays until everyone is out the door -- except during Lent, of course.

[/quote]

Is the entrance procession compulsory? For a long time, my parish (which is also a Cathedral) didn't have one, not even on Sunday Masses. They only had a hymn with the presider at his chair. They only did the procession when the Bishop was there.

It changed a few years ago and now they do both processions, but I didn't know that it was even optional. That is, unless this was a liturgical abuse, which did happen at that parish (for example they had glass chalices before).


#11

[quote="PazzoGrande, post:10, topic:315629"]
Is the entrance procession compulsory? For a long time, my parish (which is also a Cathedral) didn't have one, not even on Sunday Masses. They only had a hymn with the presider at his chair. They only did the procession when the Bishop was there..

[/quote]

An Entrance procession is not mandatory. Here is the relevant GIRM entry

  1. After the people have gathered, the Entrance chant begins as the priest enters with the deacon and ministers. The purpose of this chant is to open the celebration, foster the unity of those who have been gathered, introduce their thoughts to the mystery of the liturgical season or festivity, and accompany the procession of the priest and ministers.

All the GIRM notes is that the priest,deacon and other ministers enter. Technically, they could all zipline down from the choir loft :p


#12

[quote="PazzoGrande, post:10, topic:315629"]
Is the entrance procession compulsory? For a long time, my parish (which is also a Cathedral) didn't have one, not even on Sunday Masses. They only had a hymn with the presider at his chair. They only did the procession when the Bishop was there.

It changed a few years ago and now they do both processions, but I didn't know that it was even optional. That is, unless this was a liturgical abuse, which did happen at that parish (for example they had glass chalices before).

[/quote]

It may not be juridically mandatory, but the very fact that the relevant people enter together makes a procession whether or not they intend for there to be one.

[quote="Brendan, post:11, topic:315629"]
An Entrance procession is not mandatory. Here is the relevant GIRM entry

All the GIRM notes is that the priest,deacon and other ministers enter. Technically, they could all zipline down from the choir loft :p

[/quote]

But that would still be a procession. People entering a place in a line is a procession whether we call it that or not. The hospital cafeteria line is a procession, indeed. The only way I can think of for there to not be a procession at the beginning of Mass would be for the ministers to enter from different directions, converging on the sanctuary. A procession exists as a matter of what is in fact done, so practically speaking, there are processions at all Masses except, perhaps, Masses in which the only minister is the priest celebrant, but the question there would be whether it takes more than one to make a procession. Sorry, maybe I'm nerding this too much. =p


#13

Besides the official symbolism, I am reminded of a bride walking down the aisle to meet her groom at the Altar. In this case the Bride of Christ represented in the priest
and Christ being the groom. The Mass is the Wedding Supper of the Lamb, after all.


#14

[quote="Brendan, post:11, topic:315629"]
All the GIRM notes is that the priest,deacon and other ministers enter. Technically, they could all zipline down from the choir loft :p

[/quote]

Now you've done it! Some parish is bound to try that with the excuse that they read it on CAF.;)

Although, I've heard of zip lining Baby Jesus to the manger at the Children's Mass on Christmas Eve. Apparently he got stuck half way with a resulting 'piñata' moment.


#15

Great question and responses!

Zipline…heh heh

I’ve heard the procession at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is AMAZING to see.


#16

[quote="Elizabeth779, post:15, topic:315629"]
Great question and responses!

Zipline....heh heh

I've heard the procession at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is AMAZING to see.

[/quote]

I'm planning to be in Paris on a Sunday in July and Mass at Notre Dame is at the very top of my TO DO list.


#17

[quote="Elizabeth779, post:15, topic:315629"]
Great question and responses!

Zipline....heh heh

I've heard the procession at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is AMAZING to see.

[/quote]

It is delicious, one of the best bits of OF liturgy I've ever seen. What makes it is the giant candles of the acolytes and the ridiculous stormclouds of incense.


closed #18

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