The Liturgy of Emmanuel
The assembly has gathered from near and far, on foot, by bus, by car, by subway, singly and by twos and threes: single people, couples, families. Now that movement is ritualized and made visible in the liturgy’s entrance procession.
We are not alone on this journey; Christ is with us. The procession is led by the cross, with the image of Christ upon it. Candles, signs of a living presence, are carried around the cross.
Candles also accompany the Book of the Gospels, another sign of Emmanuel, God-with-us. The priest presider is likewise a sign of Christ’s presence in our assembly; he will act in persona Christi, in the person of Christ, who presides at every Eucharist.
As the procession begins, we stand and sing together in our first act as a community. The joining of our voices begins to turn many into one. The songs we sing range from ancient chants to contemporary hymns, but they have the same purpose, to foster our unity and turn our thoughts to the mysteries we gather to celebrate. We may feel that we can’t sing well, but “Christ always invites us to enter into song, to rise above our own preoccupations, and to give our entire selves to the hymn of his Paschal Sacrifice” (USCCB, Sing to the Lord, 14).
© J. S. Paluch Co.