Celebrating the EucharistSaturday 5th October 2019
Last night parish representatives from around our diocese gathered for a Mass of Celebration as we enter the Third Stage of Hope in the Future.
The date is chosen to mark the feast day of St Francis of Assisi. On the launch of Hope in the Future two years ago, those present were reminded that St Francis had been called by God, to ‘Rebuild my Church’. On that occasion each parish were presented with a framed San Damiano Cross. The cross and the call from St Francis are still at the centre of our journey to create Missionary Disciples in Missionary Parishes.
This is the first time that the launch of one of the stages has been celebrated by a Mass, this is because the Third Stage focuses on Living the Sunday Eucharist. The weekend liturgy is, in a real sense, the shop window for the parish. The Third Stage will provide an emphasis on how we can build on this Celebration to ensure that our parishes are mission oriented through our welcome, our liturgy and our hospitality. This stage can be developed in a parish even if Stages One and Two are not complete. Speaking ahead of the launch Bishop John said:
“I am certainly convinced that carefully prepared and prayerfully celebrated Masses are of great benefit to people’s spiritual development and we owe it to ourselves to regularly review how we celebrate Mass and involve people both in their ministries and their participation.”
The congregation were joined by a choir made up from members of the Diocesan Lourdes Pilgrimage, English Martyrs Church in Urmston and pupils from Sacred Heart Primary, Westhaughton. The choir helped bring the cathedral to life with hymns. You can find music ideas for your parish in the Stage Three Resources Pack
In his homily Bishop John reminded us that when we come together for Mass we are the Body of Christ come together.
“If someone were to say would you like to meet Pope Francis? would you like to meet Queen Elizabeth? We would smarten up, we would be quite tense and ready for that. What an exciting occasion something we prepare for. But we are not just meeting Pope Francis or the Queen. We are receiving the Lord himself. I know it, I say it, but does it make an impact in my life? Does it mean I am preparing as best I can to receive the Lord. “
He then reminded us why Stage Three is so important to us all:
“We can think again and absorb the enormity of what we do every time we celebrate the Eucharist. It is a chance for us to see the importance.
I believe this is a very important year for all of us, whoever we are. I see it as crucial in developing Hope in the Future in this diocese, with the Eucharist at the centre of what we do. “
You can listen to Bishop John’s Homily here or read the homily below.
Those present were given a Mass booklet that they could take away as a resource (you can view this here). Extra notes were provided to help us all understand the structure and richness of the Mass. Other resources for Stage Three include a Children’s Mass Sheet and training days. All the resources and training dates can be found here.
Hope in the Future is a Five Stage Journey. By the end of this journey it is hoped that we will have a programme that has resources for parishes wherever they are at this time. Some parishes will be leading the way, others may not be able to follow at this time but will be able to start this process in the future.
For more information on Hope in the Future or for assistance in starting a Hope in the Future Team in your parish please email email@example.com
Bishop John’s Homily Launch of Stage 3
I think I can say sincerely that I try to take care whenever I celebrate the Eucharist. I see it as something important and something to be done with care and with devotion and I think I understand what it is that I’m doing, but I think I have to reproach myself because I’m not sure that I understand the enormity or pay enough attention to the enormity of what’s going on every time that I celebrate Mass, when people come to Mass.
Isn’t it wonderful that when we gather at Mass, we are the body of Christ, present in our blood today, sharing the faith and then we come together what’s the very first thing that happens? The Priest in the place of Jesus Christ welcomes us and the first thing that has to be done is to show the mercy of the Father to want to forgive us for whatever we may need to be forgiven. Let’s clear the vents, let’s be prepared, let’s be worthy to celebrate all that’s going to follow to receive his forgiveness as a starter. Isn’t it right then that we sign a Gloria? We’ve been cleansed, we have received the mercy of God, it’s quite right that we praise God for all that he is doing in our lives.
Then we settle to the liturgy of the word and though some of those scripture passages may seem to be very familiar scripture is something which is above, even active and it never actually speaks to us in quite the same way because we are changing. We’re in different circumstances in our lives and the same passage can actually speak to us in a very different way, on the occasions when we hear it and then hopefully in the homily something else is brought out that can be of use for us in our understanding, in our absorption of the word of God. Something alive and active in our lives.
Then we come to the offertory and maybe it’s just in the simplicity of the gifts that are brought to the alter, maybe I lose that sense of the enormity of what’s about to happen, simple wine and bread brought to the alter. If it was something that in worthily terms was really precious maybe I would take a little more notice of the gifts that are offered and then on the alter incredibly Christ himself becomes present and we are invited to receive the presence the real presence of Christ into ourselves, the meeting with Christ. Now if somebody were to say would you like to meet Pope Francis? Would you like to meet Queen Elizabeth? We’d smarten up but we’d be quite tense and ready for that would we? What an exciting occasion, something that we’d prepare for, but we’re not just meeting Pope Francis or the queen we are receiving the Lord himself. I know it, I say it, but does it really make an impact in my life? Does it mean that I’m preparing as best I can to receive the Lord?
So many things happening and maybe it’s the routine of things that take away the sense of the impact of what it is all about. Maybe it’s because some of the prayers are so familiar to us, we can simply find ourselves reciting them, without really seeing the power of the words behind them. What an occasion? So many people can be caught up in that occasion. We can enhance our liturgy by the musicians, by the servers, by the readers, the Eucharistic Ministers, by the people who prepare the church. All of those can be signs to us of how we enhance our belief in what we’re doing, but let’s not discount anybody, anybody who is in the pews for that mass, we are the body of Christ, come together.
I think this year could be really important for all of us, that we can think again and absorb the enormity of what we do every time we celebrate the Eucharist. It’s a chance for us to see the importance and its by coincidence and it wasn’t planned this way, it fits exactly with that project launched by the Bishops’ of England and Wales just on Monday of this week on the feast of St Pancreas, the God who speaks. A full year of the resources and the invitation to listen more carefully to the word of God and to see how it does impact on our lives.
I really believe that this could be a very important year for all of us, whoever we are and I hope it will be and I see it as crucial in developing Hope in the Future in this Diocese that the Eucharist be at the centre of what we do. So, I’m asking look at how that general practice of the reception of communion of both kinds being available to us at Mass, it’s the practice in most parishes. I’m also asking that we think carefully about the importance of the adoration of the Eucharist, that we can come into the presence of Christ and be there in silence. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the presence of the Lord or we can come with a very specific need that we want to address. I hope this is going to be important to us all.
This evening, we have lots of ordinary ministers of the Eucharist but because we’re celebrating the Eucharist in this year, I think it’s appropriate to ask some extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist to help in communion post distribution this evening.
God bless you all for all that you are in your parishes and what you represent in the faith you have. Let’s see what we can do to enhance that celebration of our Sunday Eucharist, that will be attractive to other people, helpful to other people, helpful to us as we prepare ourselves each day to be missionary disciples in our mission in parishes.