It has been a long time since the Church in England and Wales has celebrated Mass together (outside of religious communities and perhaps some care homes).
Do we remember what to do and why, and what to expect when we do things well?
We see and hear that footballers and athletes are finding it challenging to come out of their private gyms, bedrooms and gardens and ‘perform’ as well as they had been. Some say they hope the rest will actually help them perform better once they have again become ‘match-fit’.
But what about us as worshipping-Church? As ministers, clergy and lay; as members of the congregation more broadly?
Will those priests who have been YouTubing their daily Mass remember to stop voicing the congregation’s responses? Will those readers who have not read in public for months remember the importance of reading slow enough to be understood, and to read to manifest the meaning of the passage to those they are there to serve? Will congregants – not a few of whom seem to have been encouraged to sit back wsith a cup of coffee during the homily – find their way back to their collegial and personal participation, to staying in and using the silences?
There may be a few weeks yet before we are able to return to the celebration of Mass publicly together (albeit in some sort of circumscribed way).
This is a good time to take stock and consider not only what we used to do, and (probably) what we have learnt from the YouTube-time, but also what the Roman Rite calls us to and seeks to provide opportunity for – ie the full, conscious and active participation of the whole assembly in the prayerful and nourishing encounter with the living Lord that is the Mass.
There are countless ways we might do this, but one which I htink would be fruitful is to visit, or re-visit, the Catecheses on the Mass which Pope Francis delivered a little over two years ago during his Wednesday Audiences.
They bear the scent of the shepherd! They are accessible, wise, and encouraging: and brief (each fits comfortably onto a single side of A4).
There are 15 of them, and one of them will be posted here on Living Eucharist each day over the next two weeks, beginning tomorrow.
My hope is that they will provide people from parishes and dioceses across England and Wales (and beyond – you are welcome too) with an opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns, and hopes – lay women and men, ministers of all sorts.
It would be possible to do this by way of comments on this blog. But I suggest that Facebook seems to be a more accessible platform for many people, so ask that unless you have a strong aversion to FB, that we post our own reflections there at ‘Living Eucharist’ – http://www.facebook.com/LEuch2015
Photograph. Mass in a box. MUCEM,Fort St Jean, Marseille. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.