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Day 4: Death and the Food of Everlasting Life

STAMFORD, May 21 — On the fourth day of the Seton Route of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, the pilgrims traveled with the Eucharistic Lord to parishes in Norwalk, Darien and Stamford.

They also featured a pilgrimage through St. John's Cemetery in Norwalk as they prayed for not only those buried there but for all the dead.

The day began with Mass at St. Matthew's Parish in Norwalk, Connecticut, where Bridgeport Bishop Frank Caggiano celebrated a Votive Mass of the Precious Blood of Jesus and preached about how one drop of Jesus' blood was enough to save the whole world. He corrected bad eschatologies of the day, in which many people think all of the dead somehow go automatically to a better place, making prayers for the dead superfluous and our choices in life far less significant. He reminded people of Jesus' teachings on the matter and on the importance of living in communion with him, who has given his body and blood so that we might have eternal life.

After Mass, there was a procession to St. John's Cemetery, where there were two benedictions at a stational altar that had been set up. The Eucharistic procession went throughout the cemetery praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, singing Eucharistic hymns and praying silently.

After the procession returned to St. Matthew's, there was a Eucharistic holy hour before pilgrim Fr. Stephen Rooney, a priest of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, placed the luna from the monstrance into a custodia and carried the Eucharistic Jesus to the support van to travel to St. Thomas More Parish in Darien.

The pastor of St. Thomas More, Fr. Paul Murphy, together with Bishop Caggiano, welcomed the Lord at the entrance to the parish and brought the custodia to the altar where Fr. Murphy exposed the Eucharistic Jesus for silent adoration of the faithful. During the time at St. Thomas More, faithful prayed the Rosary, had an opportunity for the Sacrament of Penance, and sang Eucharistic hymns. Pilgrim Fr. Roger Landry gave a meditation dedicated to St. Thomas More and Eucharistic Integrity.

After Fr. Rooney returned the Blessed Sacrament to the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage's support van, pilgrims journeyed to St. Mary's Parish in Stamford for a bilingual period of adoration, the Rosary and a meditation preached by Fr. Landry entitled, "Do This in Memory of Me," focused on the witness of St. Christopher Magallanes and his 24 companions, the Mexican martyrs whose liturgical anniversary the Church observes on May 21 each year.

In the meditation, Fr. Landry mentioned how the Mexican martyrs of the early 20th century did with the words "Viva Cristo Rey y la Virgen de Guadalupe" on their lips, which the Fall River priest applied to wanting Christ the King to live and reign in the Eucharist and how Mary constantly prays for us to receive the blessed Fruit of her womb, having a Church built in Guadalupe so that people would be able to come to be with her Eucharistic Son.

After Father Landry led the Holy Rosary in English and Spanish and a period of silent adoration, Eucharistic hymns were sung and Father Rooney imparted benediction and then processed with the Blessed Sacrament to the support van, where the National Eucharistic Pilgrims departed for the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist in Stamford.

There, pastor Father Cyprian LaPastina welcomed the Eucharistic Jesus from Father Rooney at the steps of the Church and proceeded to place him in the monstrance, which he placed high up on the main altar of the Basilica, which was full of illuminated candles. After 30 minutes of silent adoration, Father LaPastina led the crowded Church in Solemn Vespers, during which Father Landry preached on St. John the Evangelist's teachings on the Eucharist. After Vespers, there was a Eucharistic Procession around the outside of the Church followed by Benediction.

From there, the National Eucharistic Pilgrims journeyed with the Blessed Sacrament to St. Gabriel's Church in Stamford, where there was a packed Church full of Haitian faithful, for a half-hour of adoration, followed by a procession from St. Gabriel's to St. Cecilia's Church, where pastor Fr. John Connaughton welcomed the Blessed Sacrament. Bishop Frank Caggiano led Solemn Vespers, during which he preached on how the Eucharistic Jesus is the fulfillment of the yearnings contained in the Declaration of Independence's famous phrase about the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Jesus is the one, Caggiano said, who gives us life to the full and eternal life, who bestows on us true freedom, and leads us to joy in this world and eternal happiness in the next.

After Vespers, Bishop Caggiano led the packed Church in the LItany of the Blessed Sacrament. The Lord Jesus would remain exposed for adoration at St. Cecilia's throughout the night, until 8 am on Tuesday morning.

Below are various photos from the day.


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