In the 1960s there was a very powerful film, “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner”. This title sparked off many a book or article about the loneliness of this or that profession or activity. So let me tell you about the loneliness of the parish priest at the altar. In a nutshell it is felt when the dialogues of the Mass are poorly celebrated. What do I mean? Well, sometimes the priest will say “The Lord, be with you”, and the response is a barely audible mumble! This is rather disheartening for the priest…he needs to know that the congregation also wishes the Holy Spirit to be with Him…so that he can actually function as a priest filled with the spirit of God’s love, for he does nothing except by the power of the Holy Spirit. It can be lonely up there!
So where am I going with this?
Firstly, I have noticed quite a drop off in the engagement with the Mass, especially in the responses (Let alone the singing … ahem!). Please remember that the priest isn’t celebrating the liturgy on his own for you but collectively with you as the body of Christ assembled to give glory to God.
Secondly, the Mass, like all sacraments, is an action (‘The”) action of the Church gathered in the name of the Lord. All gathered have a duty as we are told in the document of the liturgy form of the Vatican Council to be fully, consciously and actively involved in the celebration; not just attending but being involved, being part of the ritual. The Mass is ours, not just something the priest does that we watch.
Thirdly, the end point would be that all our responses be said together with the clarity and fervor we express when we pray the Our Father.
Thank you for reading this little note of concern, but as Pastor it is my duty to ensure that we all enter into the worship of the Church as fully as possible…because the Lord deserves it, does he not?
May God bless you, your families, and the week ahead,
Fr Aidan Peter