A Moment-in-Time Tale: April 2006
This photo was taken at a homeschooling camp, the week after Easter 2006. In the centre of the picture is Gemma-Rose aged 2 years.

Twice a year we gather with other Catholic homeschooling families at Fitzroy Falls Conference Centre. We come together to renew friendships, share news, swap ideas, and spend time with Our Lord. We attend Mass together, worship and pray and sing… and at the end of five days we all disperse feeling exhausted physically but renewed spiritually. We return to our homes full of enthusiasm, encouragement and inspiration.

The children love going to camp. And one of the highlights is always the Eucharistic Procession.

About an hour before the Procession is due to begin, all the girls disappear into their cabins. There is a flurry of activity as beautiful white dresses are pulled off hangers. Grubby, crumpled, everyday clothes fall to the floor and heads disappear into layers of gorgeous white fabric. Dresses are zipped up and smoothed down and admired. "Oh, you look so pretty!" someone exclaims. Smiles appear on little faces. The girls feel like princesses. Hairbrushes are dragged through tangled locks which are then adorned with flowing veils. The little princesses turn into little brides, with dusty boots peeping out from under their skirts. There is much swishing and twirling of dresses as transformed girls reappear. Cameras are clicking. “Smile!” and obliging girls turn this way and that, as proud parents capture precious memories.

Then a signal is given. The older girls take the younger ones by the hand and lead them down to the chapel. They file through the doorway quietly, and take their places on the benches behind the altar. Soon the chapel fills up. We fall to our knees as Our Lord is exposed and placed in the monstrance, and soon we are following Him back up the aisle and out into the sunshine.

The girls are close behind Our Lord. The older ones are shepherding the younger ones along, keeping them in order. Their dresses are moving and rustling in the breeze. Mothers are pushing babies in strollers. Sounds of the Rosary fill the air. And then a hymn. As the fourth decade comes to an end, the procession winds its way back down the track to the chapel. We enter the cool darkness and soon we are all crowded once again into the small space, our knees pressed to the hard stone floor, our voices reciting the final prayers. Then the organ comes alive and we sing the Latin prayers of Benediction. We are in another world, in our little chapel in the bush clearing. Our everyday lives and concerns seem far away. For the moment all that matters is Our Lord.

And now we are streaming back out into the daylight. Smiles are exchanged and the magic of the moment lingers. Little girls are reunited with parents who ask, “Do I really have to change for dinner? Couldn’t I keep my white dress on for a little longer?” And we hurry back up the track towards the dining room as we realise just how hungry we all are.

I think about the white dresses that the girls are always so reluctant to take off. The girls think dressing up is an essential part of the Eucharistic Procession. So essential, they think of it as the White Procession. I am sure those white dresses are responsible for their beautiful and reverent behaviour. For how can you be naughty or fidgety or inattentive when you look like an angel?

Clothes are so important. They reflect our inner selves. They tell the world so much about who we are, how we feel and what we believe. And they can affect our behaviour. The right clothes can turn mischievous little girls into little saints.

I look at this photo and I remember the white satin dress that Gemma-Rose is wearing. I probably bought it from a second-hand shop in town. When the girls were younger, I could often be seen searching the shops for cast-off First Holy Communion, flower girl and bridesmaids’ dresses. I bought so many the shop assistant became curious and I had to explain how my girls needed the dresses to wear in Rosary processions. Gemma-Rose is now seven and has outgrown many of the dresses so we have passed them onto other little girls. But there are still a number of white multi-layered creations squashed into their wardrobes.

I notice that Gemma-Rose is wearing a pink cardigan and some of the other girls have long sleeved T shirts under their dresses. It must have been a cool day.

My girls were looking over my shoulder as I selected this photo. They started talking excitedly about ‘White Processions’. They have so many wonderful memories of following along behind Our Lord in their gorgeous dresses. If only they had the opportunity to dress up more often for Our Lord...

Post a Comment

  1. it is a wonderful tradition... can't wait to see the white procession this April. leanne

  2. We're looking forward to it too, Leanne. I guess it will only be Gemma-Rose and Sophie who'll be wearing white dresses this year. Imogen and Charlotte have outgrown all the dresses we have.

  3. now that is a pretty picture of a pretty little girl:)

  4. It's not until we get out the old photos, we realise how much our children have grown. We enjoy so much looking through all the pictures and remembering.

  5. Hi Sue, what a wonderful tradition! I have never heard of that before. I wonder if it's done here in the states at all? Gemma-Rose is so sweet in her white dress and pink cardigan!

  6. Noreen, I don't know much about the history of the Eucharistic Procession. I guess this tradition is a public way of honouring Our Lord and saying we believe in the Real Presence. Processions are usually associated these days with Corpus Christi. We always have a Procession when we gather with our homeschooling community. It is a beautiful old tradition which needs to be kept alive.


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