This post is part of a series called The Mass: An Augustinian Perspective offered on AugustinianSpirituality.org.
The purpose of the procession is to open the celebration, foster the unity of those who have been gathered, and orient our thoughts to the mystery of the liturgy about to be celebrated (GIRM, 47).
The procession reminds us that Christ has formed us and united us into a royal Priesthood. While the ordained priest and deacon will lead us in our worship as part of their ministry, they are not set apart from the Body of Christ. As the priest and deacon process down the aisle to lead the congregation in worship, they approach the altar not apart from, but from among the people. Likewise, at the end of the Mass they will process out by re-joining the faithful. This serves as a powerful symbol of the union shared by all the faithful through our common baptism.
Perhaps Saint Augustine illustrates this most clearly in his own reflection on the occasion of his Ordination to the Episcopate:
“Where I’m terrified by what I am for you, I am given comfort by what I am with you. For you I am a bishop, with you, after all, I am a Christian. The first is the name of an office undertaken, the second a name of grace; that one means danger, this one salvation.”Saint Augustine (Sermon 340A, 1)
As the procession takes place, we are invited to remember that all present, ordained and non-ordained alike, are united in celebrating the mysteries of our faith and therefore called to participate fully, actively, and consciously. Additionally, we are also united in the suffering of the human condition in that everyone has brought some life circumstance with them to Mass and we are united in the victory that has been won for us.
Reflection Questions: Can I feel a sense of unity and solidarity with my Christian sisters and brothers? Does that sense of unity extend to the specific intention I brought with me to Mass?