09.09.2016 - The procession...

...provides us with a picture of our own lives: The people of God in transit. What and Who is their destination? This persistent, age-old question is more pertinent than ever today.The 2019 Hanswijk ...

02.08.2016 - Procession 2019: Sunday the 19th of May 2019


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Saying "Yes"

The Hanswijk procession is of course more than just a spectacle. It is first and foremost a religious procession, one in which, typically, praying and singing believers honour, thank or implore God or a saint for help. However, it is also more than this. The Hanswijk procession is – literally – a walking illustration of a vision, a vision that can be summarised with the saying:

Living / experiencing yes

Saying "yes" to life means saying "yes" to the fundamental calling of each and every person.

The unifying leitmotiv running through the Hanswijk procession is our "yes" to life and our "yes" to God.

Deep within us, each of us longs for life and happiness. We all have the sense that true happiness has something to do with love, community and connectedness to others, to loving and being loved, to saying "yes" to life as it comes. Saying "yes" makes it possible for us to live life to the full. 


"Yes" can be experienced in different ways

Through the various stories, the Hanswijk procession shows us people's "yes" through the ages: "yes" to life and "yes" to God. This can be lived out in various different ways.

"Yes" in Mechelen's history

History enthusiasts will see scenes from the different periods of Mechelen's rich past pass-by in the procession. But what we are really seeing are stories of historical figures who at a given moment said "yes" to a task that fell to them, a call that was suddenly made on them: from the Irish monk Rumbold, who set out to spread the faith, to Margaret of Austria, who in difficult circumstances took on the task of ruling the Netherlands and bringing up her nephew, Charles V.

"Yes" in everyone's life

On another level, the procession is about more than just depicting this "yes". It becomes an experienced "yes" when one discerns certain archetypal human situations in the enacted stories: looking forward to a joyful event, the birth of a child, the heartache caused by a child who unexpectedly chooses an undesired path of life, the anguish of suffering and death, the joy of being liberated from a distressing situation...It's about people living and accepting life, saying "yes", and going on, sometimes in spite of everything... The performed scenes also occur in our own lives and this touches and moves us.

Saying "yes" to God

If we look more profoundly with the eyes of faith, we become aware of more: behind these human archetypes one sees how God loves man and never abandons him, how He is always close at hand and has given His only Son in order to redeem us from sin and death. We experience this "yes" in a deeper way because we are being asked in our own lives for our own "yes" to God .

The believer wants to say "yes" to God who is calling us to live in complete harmony with Him. For the believer, true happiness is to be found in God, who is Love. In this way, the first "yes" to life takes on an even deeper dimension – "yes" to God. Mary has led the way. She said "yes" to God's request to become the mother of His Son. Her whole life was a single "yes", a "fiat": "May it be done unto me according to Thy word". In this way she was willing to become the mother of the Church, our mother. This is why we can always ask her "Monstra te esse matrem – Show that you are our mother".

The Hanswijk procession as pilgrimage

Thus at its deepest level, the Hanswijk procession is in fact a miniature pilgrimage – the definition of which is "a prayerful journey made by an individual or group of people to a sacred place some distance away, in order to pray there and to return renewed". Going on a pilgrimage is "praying with the body": it is intimately linked with our actual living of each day, an expression of our shared journey as believers. Every procession and every pilgrimage is an image of our life, on our way from birth toward our final goal: toward God.

This is something "experienced" very intensely by the thousands of participants in this Hanswijk procession, both those who act out the scenes and those who follow behind and accompany the procession, praying and singing, on the way to Our Lady of Hanswijk.