247. To preserve the character of processions as manifestations of faith, it is necessary for the faithful to be carefully instructed on their theological, liturgical and anthropological aspects.
What is the theology of processions?
From a theological perspective, it is important to emphasize that a procession is a sign of the Church’s condition, the pilgrimage of the People of God, with Christ and after Christ, aware that in this world it has no lasting dwelling. Through the streets of this earth it moves towards the heavenly Jerusalem. It is also a sign of the witness to the faith that every Christian community is obliged to give to the Lord in the structures of civil society. It is also a sign of the Church’s missionary task which reaches back to her origins and the Lord’s command (cf. Mt 28, 19-20), which sent her to proclaim the Gospel message of salvation.
A pilgrimage is not only a witness to a world and an expression that we won’t be here to stay. It seems to me that the effort of making a pilgrimage or a procession involves change in the traveler as well. We do not stay in one place. We move forward, onward, to encounter the living God. Of necessity, we don’t bring everything we own–some things must be left behind. Not only does a pilgrimage poke at the world around us, but it challenges the believers–both the individual and the praying community–to be continually open to change, reform, and renewal.
The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy is online at the Vatican site.