Thursday, June 23, 2011

In Hotlanta, the Juggernaut Returns

Sweet Wilton, it's that time again.

With the Pope slated to preside outside St John Lateran come evening in Rome, today might be the traditional feast of Corpus Christi... but as the solemnity of the Lord's Body and Blood now falls on Sunday in most of the global church, this weekend yet again brings Stateside Catholicism's signal celebration of Ecclesia de eucharistia: the Eucharistic Congress in Atlanta, which now draws a crowd in excess of 30,000 to the 404's convention center over two days beginning tomorrow, with this year's gathering to be headlined by the host's current successor as chief of the nation's bench.

The North Georgia church grown sixfold in size since 1990 -- and, like the Congress' turnout, with a current population roughly split between Latinos and Anglos (hence a Colombian-born auxiliary) -- its yearly Wilt-fest now ranks as the largest meeting of the church in the American South, and fourth among the home-fold's biggest annual reunions, all told.

The theme invariably sprung from a different aspect of the Eucharist, this year's talks and liturgies will focus on vocations in the church -- lay, professed and ordained alike.

Unfortunately, no livestreams are planned, so if you're going, please, just take videos like crazy and beam 'em up. In the meanwhile, though, for a taste of what's on-deck, here -- featuring clerics, First Communicants, Asian drummers and the sound of either matachines or a landing plane -- a look at an earlier edition's procession outside the hall...

...and the final liturgy within:

See, when they said "The South will rise again," they were right... it just turned out to be far better than expected.