I want to thank everyone who helped out with the Ministries fair. I hope all who signed up will enjoy their involvement in the life of the parish all the more. It is about involvement that I wish to say something.
The great document on the Liturgy from Vatican Council II called for “full, active and conscious participation” in the liturgy. Coming to Mass on a Sunday is not merely a duty because the Church says so. (It only says so because of the third commandment and Jesus’ instruction to “do this in memory of me” among other scriptures). We come to Mass to give thanks for the good in our lives and for the strength of his grace to deal and or learn from the bad. This is done faithfully by many who come. So let us look at these words from the council about participation.
FULL. This word calls upon us to make sure that our involvement in the Mass is complete. In practical terms this means that we are there from the START of Mass and do not leave until the END; the Blessing and dismissal. I have started to notice that at almost every Mass at the weekend at SLdM the Mass starts with only ¾ of the number of people who are there by the Gospel. And after communion ¼ of the congregation leaves early. This is not full participation and I ask us all to give sufficient time to give Christ an hour in his presence, let us not get into the habit of begrudging him this “hour of honor”. The liturgy means the work of the people. Sunday is a day of rest from our daily labours to do our work for God; praise and thanksgiving.
ACTIVE. This word calls upon to engage with what is going on in the celebration of the Mass. This means to make the responses, say the prayers, listen attentively and to sing up. Nothing half-hearted. Christ died for us whole-heartedly so that we might be saved from the burden of our sins and to be en-graced with his redeeming love…….TO LIVE IN CHRIST not merely exist. The Mass is not about attending to what the priest does but to celebrate it together with him. The Mass is fellowship, dialogous, musical, sacrificial and joyous. If you can’t sing that’s no problem, but please still use the hymn book so that you can follow the text of the song that can be so rewarding and inspiring. When Father offers, “The Lord be with you” he needs to have it offered back to Him so that he can truly be at one with you in the Spirit in that celebration! So let’s not be passive expecting to have it all done for us but play our part. We are not sponges but God’s people.
CONSCIOUS. The Mass is not some empty, repetitive ritual rather it demands not only our faith but also our intellect. Yes, there are times when the cut and thrust of the week have been such that coming to Mass is a blessed relief. But Christ asks us to enter into the mystery of his love. That’s a faithful leap into the depths of God but also an engagement in our minds to “grow in the knowledge and love of God”. It is faith seeking understanding as St Anselm tells us. So real attentiveness is the order of the day so that His sacramental gift draws into redemption.
PARTICIPATION By now I suspect you can see where this is going; we all have our part to play! There is a challenging saying, “If a thing is worth doing it is worth doing badly (think about that for a moment carefully as to what it is really saying and also what it is not). We are all trying to do our best but the key word is “doing”. So please can we just get up and get involved. Perhaps we could some this all up by saying when we come to Mass we are called to “Passionate Participation”, as passionate as Christ’s love for us.
Later in the month we will all receive a little book to reflect upon our understanding of the Mass in our lives. Please use it, we all have to grow and regularly renew our commitment to Christ in the Mass. For us as Catholics the Eucharist is “the source and summit” of our lives of faith in Christ.
God bless you and the week ahead,
Fr. Aidan Peter, CJ