In this third instalment Fr Mark Vickers, reflects on the third day of Adoremus, the Eucharistic Pilgrimage and Congress, in Liverpool.
There were two Congress Masses at the Metropolitan Cathedral on the Sunday morning. Given the almost relentless activity of the previous two days, I was glad that we had opted for the later, celebrated at 11.30am by the Cardinal. Arriving, we were greeted by Arundel and Brighton’s diocesan contribution to the Congress: a magnificent carpet of flowers sweeping all the way up to the sanctuary, incorporating the Host and chalice, and the Adoremus motif.
As the Congress drew to its close, we gathered as we should, young and old, from every background, from every parish and community across the country, around the altar to meet Christ, to encounter him in the most intimate way imaginable in Holy Communion. Despite the numbers, Liverpool Cathedral managed the occasion with great style and professionalism. The music in particular was a great outpouring of praise to Christ present amongst us.
Reflecting during Adoration in the Echo Arena the preceding evening, the Cardinal had asked that there was not to be one iota of triumphalism or pride in the Blessed Sacrament procession to take place through the city streets. It was to be ‘a penitential procession.’ The Cardinal was granted his wish.
As we emerged from the Mass, the heavens opened. The rain was unrelenting as we wound our way through the streets around the cathedral. Symbolically, the Church was being cleansed. As one of the bearers of the platform on which the monstrance was placed, I thought I would be protected by the canopy. Not a bit of it; water was soon pouring through the seams, only in a more concentrated manner.
With the shafts slipping in wet hands, carrying the platform was no easy task. Our difficulties were minimal, but they helped focus thoughts on that procession 2,000 years earlier which Our Lord had undertaken for our sake through the streets of Jerusalem to Calvary.
The seminarians led the way, carrying the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham. Then scores of priests and bishops, still in their white Mass vestments, the Cardinal and Our Lord himself. Following, singing and praying were thousands of the faithful. Periodically, we paused as the Cardinal charged the thurible and incensed the Blessed Sacrament. Then we were on our way again. We were watched by curious bystanders and by families devoutly kneeling amid the puddles to give honour to their Eucharistic Lord. It was a profoundly moving experience.
It felt much longer, but it could not have been more than half an hour before we were back at the cathedral steps. The monstrance was processed to the altar prepared at the top in full view of the crowd which now filled every available space below. The atmosphere was heavily charged as the Cardinal gave Benediction over the Lord’s adoring people. And at that moment, the rain stopped and the sun shone. Having undertaken penance, we were blessed when we were where we ought to be: kneeling in prayer before the Lord.
As the Blessed Sacrament was returned to the cathedral, there was a reluctance to disperse. People wished to continue to hold that moment in silence. Complete strangers came forward to express their gratitude for the blessings of these three days. It had been a time of joy and hope, they said. Adoremus had exceeded every expectation. When it had been most needed, we had been confirmed in our Catholic faith because together we had gathered around Our Lord in prayer. When and where would the next Eucharistic Congress be held? It was a question in all our hearts.
Some of the prayer and joy of the three days in Liverpool have been captured in the images which can be viewed at https://www.flickr.com/catholicism