PLACE SUNDAY MASS AT THE HEART OF OUR PANDEMIC-LIVES The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have issued a reflection on post-pandemic recovery and the challenges faced by the Church in encouraging people back to the Church and her Sacraments. In a reflection titled The Day of the Lord, the Bishops also praise families, parish communities and those who have worked tirelessly in hospitals, care homes, schools and prisons during these challenging times of ill-health, grief and isolation. The Bishops salute the leadership of our priests and also express gratitude for the ‘immense efforts’ of those who have provided food for those most in need. The Bishops recognise that it is impossible to predict the pace at which we will emerge from the pandemic but state “what is clear is the challenge we face of bringing our communities and the practice of the faith to a still greater expression and strength.” They identify the groups of people they are seeking to reach:
- Those who have lost the habit of coming to church and who may be anxious about doing so.
- Those who may not want to re-establish a pattern of Catholic worship – who may have seen a gap widen between the spiritual dimension of their lives and any communal expression of that spiritual quest.
- The ‘Covid-curious’ who have encountered the Catholic Church for the first time during the pandemic.
The Bishops highlight the strengths, the “veritable treasures” of the Catholic Church as being the tools at their disposal to rise to these challenges. The greatest treasure is, of course, the sacramental life of the Church and at its heart, the Eucharist. “It is the Eucharist, the celebration of the Mass, that makes the Church; and it is the Church, in the gift of the Holy Spirit, which makes the Eucharist. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the lifeblood of the Church. It requires our active participation and, to be fully celebrated, our physical presence. “We face the task of seeking to nurture the sense of Sunday as ‘a weekly gift from God to his people’, and something we cannot do without; to see Sunday as the soul of the week, as giving light and meaning to all the responsibilities we live out each day; to see the Sunday Eucharist as food for the unique mission with which we have been endowed.” The text is available at www.cbcew.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2021/04/Day-of-the-Lord-220421.pdf