My family and I attended a really well done procession last year at the University of Notre Dame, and without my even trying, I had the opportunity to witness to bystanders with plenty of questions! 🙂
And there are so many opportunities for processions or other walking-prayers that take our life of prayer outside of the walls of a parish building or church. Stations of the Cross are obviously popular, but how often are they done through a neighborhood? Or in outdoor locations where many of the unchurched can see and be moved? It’s extra effort to move them outdoors, but worth it for the sake of evangelization, I think. [Plus, the real physical movement is a part of these types of prayers, it’s not just about looking at images.]
Other less common “station” prayers include John Paul the Great’s Stations of the Resurrection or the Stations of Advent I recently saw published in the Advent issue of Magnificat. There are processions that highlight the movement in and out of the sanctuary too, as part of the liturgy of the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, baptismal rites, Easter Vigil, and Palm Sunday. We should do these for real. With actual movement from the outside to the inside of the sanctuary. How can the reality of the symbolism take root without experiencing the movement? It’s okay to get a little cold or wet…it’s only a few times a year.
Because station prayers and processions take us outside of the church or sanctuary, they can also be great opportunities for ecumenical prayer and witness. The sad reality is that due to our divisions within the Body of Christ, an ecumenical prayer service held within a particular church’s building does not always feel truly shared. But, a procession around the neighborhood? Everyone can join in as a sign of witness.
The opportunities are endless. Take some time and consider how processions, movement, and walking-prayers could be used this year in your parish or ministry…