It is Sunday. They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I am especially aware on Sunday’s of people gathering for Mass at Our Lady of Victories. Every Sunday I offer Mass for the people of OLV and for the parishioners of Chatham Islands.
Today two groups began a week’s retreat alongside our Liturgical Institute programme. As the Church in the United States (as the Church in NZ) prepares for the introduction of the Revised Order of the Mass, one retreat is being offered for Church musicians, and another for priests. So tonight for evening prayer the numbers in the chapel were greatly increased.
I have spent the past week intensively reading and studying liturgy. The group of forty students I am with discuss liturgy at every opportunity. I have just come from “holy hour” where the discussion was liturgy. Today is Sunday where every parish celebrates the Mass. Pope Benedict believes that if we get our celebration of the Mass right, everything else will fall into place.
I find this very encouraging. Often in our dioceses and parishes we try to focus on organisation and restructuring, on social outreach and catechesis, on sacramental preparation. All of these things are good and necessary. But, when we look back on forty years of doing this, we have to ask, did we really get our primary focus right?
In the brief week here I have been reassured that our focus of the last two years at OLV on the Sunday celebration of the Mass, is right on the mark. When you think about it, even from a purely practical point of view, the weekend Mass is the only place we see every active parishioner. We would be foolish not to pour our energy and resources into ensuring that when people do come each week, they experience the reality of God.
In the Catholic Church the sacraments are the heart of the matter. Without these most easily available divine encounters, we would perish.