Sancta Missa - Rituale Romanum (Roman Ritual) - Processions - General rules



1. The sacred public processions and solemn rites of petition used in the Catholic Church were instituted in very early times by the holy fathers. Their purpose is to arouse the faithful's devotion, to commemorate God's benefits to man and to thank Him for them, and to call upon Him for further assistance; hence they ought to be celebrated in a truly religious manner. For they are the bearers of sublime and godly mysteries, and all who devoutly take part in them receive from God the salutary fruits of Christian piety. It is the pastors' duty to explain them to the faithful at the proper time.

2. Priests especially, but others in holy orders as well, should see to it that during these processions such decorum and reverence prevail as befits these devout exercises, both on the part of themselves and the rest who participate.

3. All members of the clergy who are to take part will be properly clothed, in surplices or in other sacred vestments (no hats should be worn unless rain threatens). They will walk two by two, bearing themselves with gravity, reserve, and piety. Talking, laughing, and gazing about should be conspicuously absent; rather they should be so intent on prayer that they will invite the people to join in fervent petitions.

4. All who march in the procession should be praying. The men should be separate from the women, and the laity separate from the clergy.

5. A cross is carried at the head of the procession, and where it is the custom also a banner with sacred images, but not one that has a military character or a triangular form.

6. Let pastors be sedulous in abolishing the abuse of eating and drinking, as well as carrying along food and drink during any of the sacred processions or on the occasions when the fields are blessed or when a pilgrimage is made to a church lying outside the city. And the faithful should repeatedly be admonished, especially on the Sunday prior to the Rogation days, how unseemly this abuse is.

7. The processions should take place before the solemn celebration of Mass, unless occasionally the Ordinary or the clergy decide otherwise for a good reason.

8. Certain processions are of regular occurrence, that is, specified for particular days of the year, as those of Candlemas, Palm Sunday, the Greater Litany on the feast of St. Mark the Evangelist, the Lesser Litanies on the three Rogation days before Ascension, and Corpus Christi, or on other days according to the usage of local churches.

9. But some processions are of all extraordinary nature--those which are ordered for other public causes at special times.

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