Today I continue with talks on the Mass or the ‘Breaking of Bread.’
We were brought up to view the Mass narrowly, as an obligation to be fulfilled by each individual, with no reference to the Mass as a family outpouring of gratitude and praise to God, our Father/Mother and Creator.
One of the first things Jesus of Nazareth did when he started his public ministry was to pick 12 Apostles from among his followers.
Mark 3 “He went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. He appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) that they might be with him.”
The Apostles symbolised the gathering together of the twelve tribes of Israel – the chosen people.
These were the beginnings of the new people of God; The new family of God.
‘Someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak with you.” But he said in reply to the one who told him, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
I now quote from Jn. & Matt regarding the first Mass-the Last Supper.
‘He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”
‘So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve.’
The Passover meal was a family affair but Jesus celebrated the Passover feast (the Last Supper) not with his mother and relatives but with his new family (the twelve Apostles).
We Christians of Corsham are our new family. We too (like Jesus of Nazareth) celebrate the passover feast, the Last Supper, the Mass, with our new family – those who do the will of our heavenly Father.
When the Last Supper, the Mass, was over Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane where he prayed alone, privately, to the Father. He did not do this at the Last supper. The Last Supper was a family celebration.
This is very important.
The heart of Christianity, the basis of the universal church, is the local parish community of believers. This is God’s family in this particular place. This is my and your family in this particular place. Our church authorities have been striving for years to set up Deanery and diocesan pastoral councils. It has never worked and will never work. They do not represent a cohesive community. They are not a worshipping community. They have no sense of family.
On the other hand the parish pastoral councils work well. They have cohesion and represent a worshipping community or family.
This is the very basis of our Church.
I abhor the closing of parish places of worship just because there is no resident priest or no regular weekend mass.
You can have a vibrant, cohesive, worshipping community without a resident priest or a regular weekend Mass. This has been proved to be so in countless countries all over the world. You may not have as many members as when there is a resident priest and a regular weekend mass but you will have a strong nucleus of believing, worshipping Christians which can easily expand when conditions change.
There is no reason why a lay person should not conduct a weekend service for the parish community if no priest were available, rather that breaking up the parish family to seek Mass elsewhere. It is the worshipping parish family, be it with or without Mass, which pleases God our Father.
Do not abandon your parish family celebration just because you want to get in mass – to fulfil an imaginary obligation.