Q: I find conflicting answers when I look up information and instructions concerning the placement of First Communicants in the Procession.
Some say: lead the procession followed by the Cross/banner bearer
Others: Knights or other religious groups followed by cross/banner bearer, then communicants, then thurifers
Still others behind the person with the Blessed sacrament
Which is best? Thank you.
A: The reason you find conflicting information is that there is no clear answer to this. The official liturgical book, Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass, speaks about eucharistic processions in paragraphs 101-108, but it does not give an order of procession.
The Ceremonial of Bishops, however, does. It says on the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, the procession takes this order: “first the crossbearer, accompanied by acolytes carrying candlesticks with lighted candles; next, the clergy [probably meaning priests in choir dress]; deacons of the Mass; canons and presbyters, wearing copes; concelebrants; visiting bishops, wearing copies; the ministers carrying the bishop’s pastoral staff; two censer bearers carrying censers burning incense; the bishop carrying the blessed sacrament; a little behind him the two deacons assisting him; the ministers who assist with the book and the miter. All carry candles, and torchbearers escort the blessed sacrament” (391).
As you see, it doesn’t answer the question, “Where are the people?”
If local custom equates the first communicants with “acolytes carrying candlesticks” who accompany the cross, then they could join the procession there. If local custom is that they join the people, then they may lead the people behind the Blessed Sacrament.