Thursday the 8th of June was a warm evening in Leuven, a great occasion to meet others on one of the many terraces in our city center. Whether meeting for serious or light-hearted conversations or just being together with others, this evening certainly invited such meetings.
In the heart of the city, Sint-Pieter’s church, from early that morning onwards, people regularly entered and, yes, did so also to meet Someone, talk with Him, thank Him, ask Him for help, or just gaze at Him.
In the evening many of the faithful came to the church to celebrate the Eucharist with Father Ger-Jan, along with several other priests and deacons.
We were privileged to listen to God’s Word and heard Paul say in the second reading, “Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf” (1 Cor 10:17). Petitionary prayers were offered in various languages, and many young people and young families “from all nations, tribes, peoples and languages” (Rev 7:9) actively participated in the celebration.
After the Eucharistic celebration, the procession began with Father Juan Carlos carrying Christ outside into the city accompanied by singing, great clouds of incense and the ringing of bells. Somewhat amazed, the many café patrons looked on at this somewhat unusual group, and there was much photographing, videoing and chatting.
Every year, my thoughts turn to the verse from the Gospel about Jesus “who went around to all the towns and villages, because, at the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9, 35-36).
There were also reactions of deep reverence. People bowed or knelt, and here and there people asked to be blessed. Paulette on her balcony, the Coptic Christian in front of his restaurant, a casual passerby who was moved to tears by his blessing.
Local priests but also priests from different countries and rites had the opportunity to carry the monstrance. An African choir provided some musical variation, and their enthusiasm was very contagious.
Arriving at Sint-Kwinten’s church, it was suddenly much quieter. Scripture was listened to, prayed and sung. There was a long silent Adoration during which we could spend time with the Lord, hidden in the host, who is good, who forgives us, patient and full of love (Psalm 103:8). Fr. Juan Carlos went around the church to quietly bless all those present, and this too was a very moving moment.
Thank you to everyone from the pastoral zone of Leuven on the Dijle and also from beyond who participated again this year to make this procession an inspiring and evangelizing moment.