Meeting in conference recently, the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales reflected on the experience of the last year and on the need to encourage parishioners to return with confidence to their parish churches for the celebration of Sunday Mass.
Bishop Alan shared their reflection with parishes, saying: “While the lifting of the Sunday Obligation remains in place, it is important to emphasise the intrinsic value of our Sunday gathering for the celebration of Mass.”
In the reflection, the Bishops paid tribute to “to all in the Catholic community who have shown such courage, generosity and understanding in the face of adversity this past year. Across England and Wales, families and parish communities have risen to the challenge of sustaining one another through times of great isolation, loneliness and grief in an impressive variety of ways, spiritual, emotional and practical. We thank all who have worked tirelessly in prisons, in hospitals, care-homes and across the medical profession for giving of themselves so generously. We thank all who have worked valiantly in our schools, facing unforeseen demands and meeting them with characteristic professionalism and dedication.”
They also paid tribute to the many volunteers who kept churches open as “havens of peace and prayer”, those who enabled livestreaming and all who have contributed to the immense effort of providing food for those in need, giving “an eloquent expression to the mercy, love and compassion which are at the very heart of God”. The leadership and devotion of priests across the land was also acknowledged.
Returning to Mass
While the pace of our emerging from this pandemic remains as yet unclear, say the Bishops, they are very aware of the challenges that lie ahead, both in encouraging people to return to Mass and inviting in those who have become curious about our faith during Covid. “The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the lifeblood of the Church. It requires our active participation and, to be fully celebrated, our physical presence. At this moment, then, we need to have in our sights the need to restore to its rightful centrality in our lives the Sunday Mass, encouraging each to take his or her place once again in the assembly of our brothers and sisters.”
Moreover, say the Bishops, Pope St John Paul II’s Encyclical Letter Dies Domini reminds us that the Sabbath rest is a call to remember the gift of God’s Creation – and caring for that creation is a most urgent task for all of us.
Read the full reflection here: 4.21 Attachment – CBCEW Day of the Lord