Let’s Get Going

Some people are really eager to leave Mass quickly.

It’s hardly surprising.  If the Mass is celebrated well, and if we are able to participate fully, consciously and actively during it, then we will be so inspired by the word proclaimed in the Scriptures, and so deeply nourished by Christ’s own body and blood in the Eucharist, that we can’t help wanting to leave.

Bishop Anthony Fisher OP celebrating Confirmation at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 2014.  Photo © 2014 Alphonsus Fok, 3.2.1 Photography
Bishop Anthony Fisher OP celebrating Confirmation at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 2014. Photo © 2014 Alphonsus Fok, 3.2.1 Photography

The Concluding Rites of the Mass are very short, but very important.  The Priest blesses us and tells us to go.  It’s not, however, a “hurry up and get going, because I have to lock the church and the football’s on TV.”  The words of the dismissal are clear.  We are sent forth to carry out the mission of Jesus.  The Mass strengthens us in our ability to do this, week in, week out.  The Priest then leads us out of the church to go eagerly and joyfully to do this work.

Although a hymn is often sung here, the Missal doesn’t even suggest one.  The Missal’s final directions regarding the end of Mass are:

Then the Priest venerates the altar as usual with a kiss, as at the beginning. After making a profound bow with the ministers, he withdraws.  (Roman Missal, Order of Mass, no. 145)

The intention is that we follow the Priest’s directions and go immediately to be the Body of Christ to others.  While a hymn may be appropriate on some occasions, it is certainly not essential or expected.

That doesn’t mean, however, that people shouldn’t stay behind to pray, or to have a cup of tea or coffee and chat with friends and parishioners after Mass.  This is a very immediate way of putting the words of the dismissal into practice, sustaining our faith outside the Mass through personal prayer and displaying Christian charity.  That same charity may also move us to do specific things to care for others who require our help, such as driving home other parishioners who cannot get themselves to Mass, or taking Communion to the Sick.

So if you are eager to leave Mass as soon as it’s finished, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Just make sure you let the procession go first, to lead us in continuing to live out Christ’s mission.  After all, this is why you’re leaving quickly, isn’t it?  It surely has nothing to do with trying to get out of the car park first!

13/5/12 – The Liturgy and Local Concerns

Today, the Church celebrates the Sixth Sunday of Easter.  In Australia, we also celebrate Mothers’ Day today.  It can be difficult to determine to what extent local concerns can and should be incorporated into the celebrations of the universal Church.

It is important to respect the liturgical year and seasons.  Through the course of the Church’s liturgical year, the life, death and resurrection of Christ is opened up to us for us to reflect upon and celebrate.  The readings and prayers for today, therefore, remain those for the Sixth Sunday of Easter.  Music selections should normally be based upon the scriptures and liturgical season.

Roses for Mothers' DayLocal concerns can still be recognised in other ways, however.  They can be reflected in some aspects of the art and environment.  For example, today our sanctuary is decorated with floral arrangements of roses, each donated in memory or honour of mothers, and supporting the Carmelite Mission in Timor Leste.  The Prayer of the Faithful can include a prayer for mothers on this day.  After all, the Prayer of the Faithful is a time for all of us, the faithful, to pray for our needs and concerns.   The priest can comment on Mothers’ Day in his homily, while still ensuring that he breaks open the scriptures of the day.  Part of the responsibility of the homilist is to connect what Christ teaches us with our own life experience.  Finally, the Church’s Book of Blessings provides a range of prayers for various needs and occasions.  It includes a special prayer that can be incorporated in the Concluding Rites on Mothers’ Day, which we will also use today.