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Catholic Prayer: Religious Processions

Description:

The Russian Germans of Kansas frequently held Eucharistic processions on such feast days as Corpus Christi, All Souls' Day, and the Rogation days.

Prayer:

Among the favorite forms of devotion common to the people in Ellis County are processions. These processions add dignity and solemnity to a number of feasts celebrated by the Russian Germans and, although they have been modified considerably within the last generation as to length and frequency, they are still a distinctive part of the culture of the people.

The 25th of April, the Rogation days, and Corpus Christi were three occasions for processions from village to village or within each village. As a rule, the members of the church choir led, singing hymns, chanting litanies, or saying the rosary, and the people joined in the responses. On the Rogation days after Mass the altar boys, followed by the priest, led the procession from the church to the nearby fields. The priest blessed the fields and asked God to give a bountiful harvest to all the farmers.

On Corpus Christi the preparations for the feast occupied several days. Three conveniently located homes were chosen and a temporary altar erected on the porch of each. Handmade wreaths and garlands woven of garden flowers made suitable decorations. After the last Mass the priest, vested in cope and Numeral-veil, and carrying the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the monstrance, formed a procession headed by the altar boys, carrying a processional cross and lighted candles, and followed by the choir and the faithful. The procession stopped at each altar, the priest rested the monstrance on the altar, and the choir sang Latin hymns appropriate for Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

The final Benediction was given in the church.

On the occasion of a patronal feast of the church in any of the villages, the celebration was considerably bigger than that of an ordinary Sunday. These feasts were a holiday from school and from farm labor. The day began with Mass followed by picnic lunches or by a dinner prepared and served by the ladies of the parish. Today the patronal feast of each parish is kept as a holy day and a holiday; often the bazaar and dinner furnish diversion and a school play gives entertainment.

Being rural minded the Russian Germans have a particular regard for seeds, flowers, and plants. From time to time they have these plants blessed with the prayer of the Church. On August 15, the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother, flowers and herbs are blessed in the church. On the eighth of September, the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Mother, the blessing of seed wheat takes place.

On the feast of All Souls', November second, the priest and people go in procession to the cemetery and pray for the dead buried there and for all the faithful departed. The priest sprinkles the graves with holy water and the people frequently do likewise.

Prayer Source: Your Home, A Church in Miniature by Compiled by The Family Life Bureau in the early 1950s, The Neumann Press, Long Prairie, Minnesota, 1994
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