A NOTE FROM FR. VINCE
We are inching closer to public masses. We will start with an evening weekday mass both on Wednesday evenings at 7 pm: June 17 & 24. Then the first weekend is June 27-28. It’s our hope we can live-stream all these masses.
I have a brother who is a priest in Dubuque. This past weekend was the 2
weekend there. He said the average was about 60 at each of 3 masses. So it will be slow going. Hopefully slow, but sure!
I’m a hopeful person, but it does get a little dampened when we see how our society opens up, especially in crowds: Churches, movie theaters, Civic Center, etc. etc. As of now, it looks like we might have smaller gatherings with masks and social distancing for the foreseeable months. I’m with you, that makes church masses less exciting. It dampens responses, singing, community building, and general interaction.
We must put our heads together to find ways that we can liven up the liturgy. I realize that ‘liven up’ may be a strange way to describe the Eucharistic celebrations. We don’t want all the ways we find stimulating to be ground to a halt with rules of engagement. We don’t want the Eucharist to go back to pre-Vatican II days when the people watched the priest ‘say’ mass. The present form of the liturgy demands that the congregation have parts of equal importance to the priest.
Let me synthesize how the Catholic Church believes that Jesus appears to us in the community gathered at Eucharist. If we believe the only appearance of Jesus is in the consecration and our communion, we are missing 3 of the 4. The Church believes that when the community walks through the church door is the first presence of Jesus:
the community gathered
. The Church believes that Jesus appears in the Scriptures that are proclaimed:
the stories of Jesus
. Finally, we believe that the Lord appears in the ministers:
The priest, deacon, musician, lector, minister of communion.
Then comes consecration and communion. The parish trains lectors, musicians, and ministers of communion. The priest or deacon prepares his homily. We practice our ministries. This is in anticipation of the community gathering. During these days of confinement, the community gathering includes participation at home.
A tidbit of fairly useless information. The present liturgy does not allow a priest to celebrate mass by himself/to himself (except in emergencies). There must be a congregation, even if that is only one person. That person is needed for all four presences of Jesus to appear. We teach that those 4 differing appearances of the Lord should not be ranked in importance, rather, all 4 integral one to another. Pope Francis doesn’t live in the huge papal apartment. He opted for a small community house in the Vatican. He’s actually just a few doors down from Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI. From what we gather, they are the ‘congregation of 1’ for each other’s masses. Go figure!