From 6pm on Friday 29 October, places of worship in Melbourne will thankfully be able to welcome more people through their doors. As people begin to gradually re-gather for public worship, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli offers a few ways to prepare to once again receive our Lord in the Eucharist.
Hello folks, I'm sitting where I'm hoping to see you sitting very, very, soon here in our Cathedral. Now that Melbourne is moving to a phased opening up of our places of worship, along with all those other places and locations that are important in our lives, I thought that at this moment to just offer to you a few thoughts about how you might prepare for this moment as families, as individuals.
Coming back into being physically present with one another, is a very tangible reality we can look towards. It's a way in which we gather as God's people. The image of the church that St Paul gave us is the image of a body, the Body of Christ, and we are members of that body. So there's a bodily reality that has been missing during the lockdown that may now come about again. I recognise there's going to be a staged opening up. It's not ideal—none of this has been ideal all along—but it’ll be a case that we will gradually come to a point where all of us can be together, no matter what our particular vaccination status might be and so on. But how might you prepare for coming back to receiving the Lord, particularly sacramentally, in the Holy Eucharist? Can I suggest a few things…
Firstly, maybe there's some things you can do at home as a family. You can talk about perhaps previous Masses that you've been to in your local parish and those celebrations and the ways in which you as God's people were able to come together before; talk about that as a family, and to share those stories. Sharing the story about faith is always important in growing our faith. Secondly, may I suggest that you take the opportunity to seek the Lord's mercy and forgiveness. We’re all in need of that mercy and forgiveness—we’re all sinners—me included. And we have this wonderful sacrament in our church of reconciliation … which is God's forgiveness. And so I encourage you to have the chance to make a good examination of your conscience ... to take the opportunity in your local settings to seek the Lord's forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, so that when you then come forward to receive the Lord in the Holy Eucharist, you can do so knowing that He has already filled you with His tenderness and mercy and forgiveness. It's a very beautiful thing.
And then when you're actually coming back, pause, if I might suggest. Pause at the door of your church. Pause there for a moment in silence… allow the Lord to welcome you back in, and allow that moment to be filled with His grace and His peace. And finally, as best you can—everyone’s got their own situations—but as best you can come back with someone. So come back, book in — you’ll have to book in as you know, initially for some number of months as we'll be restricted in number, so you'll need to do bookings — but book in with someone. A neighbour, perhaps a friend; invite them also to come with you so that you can give expression to the Body of Christ with the one who you are coming with. It might be another family if you're coming as a family.
So those three things, can I suggest: something at home, remembering; in preparation, particularly through the sense of the gift of God's forgiveness, and the renewing of your own relationship with God and with one another, and a sense of pause before entering to invite the grace of God to enter you especially; and to bring someone along with you, so that the gift of the Lord may be theirs as well. May the Lord be with you in the week ahead.
Proclaim: Office for Mission Renewal26 November 2021