On 3 June, 2010, I was studying in Rome, so I was able to take part in the Corpus Christi Procession through the city. The procession goes from the Basilica of St. John Lateran all the way to St. Peter’s in Vatican City. Thousands of people watch as the Our Lord’s Body in the Eucharist leads the way, and then join in, walking in the procession after He has passed by. I knew that this is what would happen, but something struck me as odd at first, and then deeply moving once I knew about it.
Instead of carrying Our Lord’s Body along the way, Pope Benedict rode along, kneeling before the Eucharist in a monstrance. And this was on the back of a 1985 GMC flatbed dually pickup. Of course, it had a custom paint job, and there wasn’t a hint of dirt, but it wasn’t the vehicle I would have imagined. We all commented on it, and once we got back to our dorm rooms, we had to get the story about this truck settled.
So, we called a former Swiss Guard Halberdier, who was then studying to be a priest in Indiana. Of course, he knew all about it, and said it was a very special vehicle, which the mechanics took impeccable care of so that it was perfect for the procession each year. This is when it dawned on us that this wasn’t a truck they cleaned up for the procession, this was a truck that was used for the annual procession, and nothing else.
Vatican City has many vehicles, including plenty of maintenance vehicles and cars and vans and several tractors, but this was the truck on which Our Lord Jesus Christ rode in His procession through Rome each year. According to our friend, the truck was treated with the respect it deserved, looked after with the same care as any golden chalice or paten, and for the same reason: it carries the Eucharist, Christ’s own Body. Just like the Chalice and Paten used at Mass, this truck needs to be something that points to the reality of the Eucharist. Thus, it needs to be cared for well, beautiful and dignified enough to hint at the fact that something special is present.
While none of us here are in charge of taking care of God’s pickup, we care for things in different ways for many reasons. Maybe it is the value of the object, maybe some sentimental value, maybe because it is rare, or maybe it’s none of those things, and so we don’t care what happens to it. We, quite naturally, treat certain objects differently because of their purpose and meaning to us. Something we all need to ask ourselves is whether or not we are treating everything in our lives the right way.
Some people have a prayer shawl, which they would never wad up and toss on the couch, because it has been with them through many struggles. Some have their grandpa’s watch, which inspires them to live up to something more. Some may sleep under their aunt’s quilt, inspiring them to be more loving. Whatever it may be, we all need something like this, a piece of this world which points us toward something more. We could easily dismiss it as just “stuff,” but we all need it.
So, is there anything in your life which deserves more respect? Maybe you aren’t treating it poorly, but maybe you could do more? Maybe you should display it for your family to see it, rather than tucking it in a drawer. Or you should use it on special occasions rather than letting it sit on a shelf. Whatever it might be, let it continue to speak to you. Let it serve it’s true purpose, inspiring you to be more,