DEAR EDITOR: This is in response to the letter in the Catholic News of December 7 entitled “I want vibrant teaching at Mass”.
I share your concerns about our young people leaving the Church to go to smaller denominations, and I must admit that attending Mass where the h omily is vibrant and dynamic, can be quite uplifting at times.
We hear many people speak about this issue. One of my concerns is that Catholics are losing some of the understanding of what the Eucharist is about. Our understanding of prayer and worship has been influenced by the smaller churches with their “vibrant” style of preaching.
Being a Christian is about relationship with the living, breathing, enfleshed human person of Christ in whom we were all created. Holy Mass is supposed to be a time when we all come together to give thanks to God and to worship him.
We encounter the risen Christ in a real way. He greets us, feeds us on his Word and on his own Body, and then asks us to take him outside to all those who we meet for the rest of the week.
This requires a great deal of participation on our part, as we have not come simply to see a performance, but to play an active role in all that is happening. If young people are leaving the Church because they were not inspired by the preaching, somehow they did not recognise that Christ was truly present at the Mass and he invited them for an intimate meal. They are leaving the food for the entertainment.
My husband has this habit of gathering the family together on a Saturday night to read the Readings of the Mass for Sunday. More often than not, our children complain, “Oh gosh, Dad, again!” But he insists. He says we must prepare properly if we are to participate the next day.
I have come to see the benefit of this as many a Sunday morning has caught me waiting to hear the answers to my questions from the night before. The homily is no longer something that I sit and listen to, but something that I anticipate with eagerness.
Even if the priest is not the most gifted preacher, I have opened my mind to what he has to say before he begins. There is a principle in my husband’s wishes that Jesus himself taught. “The amount you measure out is the amount you will be given – and more besides.” Mark 4:24. In other words the more you put into something, the more you will get out of it.
I urge you to get in touch with all the youth activities available in your parish, (and there are many wonderful ones) meet and greet your peers, as fellowship does much more for a sense of belonging to a community than only worshipping on a Sunday. Take the time to get involved and see what changes you can bring about to your parish life.
As to the issue of youths whose minds seem to be elsewhere, our children still don’t pay attention all the time, and I still struggle with my mind wondering all over the place during Mass, but I have been reading a book called the Armchair Mystic by Mark E Thibodeaux SJ (present from my husband) and he gives some good advice concerning straying thoughts.
He says that anxiety, stress, guilt and anger over distractions are more detrimental than the distractions themselves. Don’t worry about them, don’t give them a second thought. Trust in God and relax in his presence, as no time spent with God is wasted.
Deeds, not words at Mass
DEAR EDITOR: The article, I want a vibrant teaching at Mass in your edition of December 7 and written by “Young Catholic”, focussed on a concern that is often expressed by many Catholics, that the homily is not vibrant enough to encourage the congregation to live a more spiritual life.
My concern is that although the homily at Mass is very important there are other elements of greater significance in the Mass, which make this celebration the greatest form of prayer, but which seem to take second place to what the priest preaches or how he preaches.
To explain myself better I would like to refer to the principal celebrant at Mass, Jesus himself. It is true that he was a great preacher and he moved people by what he said and his methodology in teaching. But the most inspiring thing about this preacher was not what he said or how he said it, but his personality.
It was such that all classes of people felt that they could approach him. Notice how the most despised in society were moved enough to make requests of him and he always responded in the positive. It mattered not if you were a despised tax collector, a leper, a blind beggar, he was available. This is how he evangelised.
What does all this have to do with the homily? Any well-trained person can preach a good homily. This saying of Shakespeare is so true: The devil can quote scripture to his purpose.So to be energised and encourage by a sermon we do not need to go to Mass.
The evangelicals are excellent with that and so they have a following of people who are moved by words. Jesus moved people by deeds, what he did. A Mass is most effective when we can feel the sincerity of the chief celebrant.
He does not have to say much but he can move us by the depth of his devotion. He can make us focus on what is most important, he can inspire us by his personality. He must have a charisma that exudes spirituality. This is what Jesus did.
I know that it is often said that the Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’ greatest sermon and it is very inspiring and thought-provoking, but for me Jesus’ greatest sermons are the Last Supper, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. In these he said little but he did much. This is what the Mass is all about.
Felix Edinborough, Petit Valley
Prayer for women who
suffer through abortion
THE EDITOR: With all the talk about abortion lately, I just wanted to extend an invitation to our people to accept God’s great mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Though we as Christians abhor abortion, I believe God extends His great mercy through this sacrament, and we should run into His arms and accept His mercy and forgiveness. In honour of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Unborn the following prayer is for women not wanting to conceive and women who have suffered through abortion.
In your heart lies endless possibilities
The King of love resides there
It is His womb
He desires for you to hold Him in your arms
And cradle His holy head
He longs for you to adore Him as a child
He longs for your motherly attention
He is the Christ Child
Come to teach you how to love
Love for that baby you never wanted
He is that child
He is the child you aborted
He is the one
He says, come
I will set you free
Know this my child
You are mine
No matter what you did or do
I will always love you
Gillian Rooks Via email
OUR JOYFUL GOD
By Sue Jerome-Scott
Talk to God, he listens attentively,
He makes us healthy, peaceful and happy.
Be of good courage in all that you do,
Not only at Christmas, but all year through.
Try and try again, you will succeed,
God gives us strength and prosperity indeed.
Offer thanksgiving to dear God for all his blessings,
To each and everyone be kind and giving.
Give love and help to the oppressed,
God is gracious, he will give you comfort and rest.
Have a joyous Christmas, may you live to see many more,
Lord Jesus Christ we continue to love and adore.