Sunday Mass should be the culmination of all parish activities

After pandemic lockdowns led to the suspension of Catholic liturgies in many parts of the world, the Sunday Mass must be reaffirmed as the source and summit of parish life, the Vatican Secretary of State said in a message sent on behalf of the Pope.

Aug 28, 2021

Pope Francis celebrates Sunday Mass in the Vatican. (Vatican Media)


By Courtney Mares

After pandemic lockdowns led to the suspension of Catholic liturgies in many parts of the world, the Sunday Mass must be reaffirmed as the source and summit of parish life, the Vatican Secretary of State said in a message sent on behalf of the Pope.

“The suspension of liturgies during the long period of lockdown and the difficulties of the subsequent recovery confirmed what had already been observed in the Sunday assemblies on the Italian peninsula: the alarming indication of … the change of epoch,” Pietro Cardinal Parolin wrote in an Aug 23 message for Italy’s National Liturgical Week.

The cardinal said that attendance at Sunday Masses in Italy is unbalanced in terms of the generations and cultures represented.

He said that parishes face difficulties in reestablishing the Mass “as being the true summit of all its activities and the source of missionary dynamism to bring the Gospel of mercy to the geographical and existential peripheries.” “The Holy Father hopes that the National Liturgical Week, with its proposals for reflection and moments of celebration … may identify and suggest some lines of liturgical pastoral care to be offered to parishes, so that Sunday, the Eucharistic assembly, the ministries and the rite may emerge from the marginality towards which they seem inexorably to precipitate, and to recover their centrality in the faith and spirituality of believers,” he said.

All public liturgies were suspended in Italy for ten weeks in 2020 when the country faced the highest mortality rates of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The sad experience of last year's liturgical ‘fast’ highlighted the goodness of the long journey that has been made since the Second Vatican Council, along the path mapped out by the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium,” Cardinal Parolin asserted.

“The time of privation made it possible to perceive ‘the importance of the divine liturgy for the life of Christians, who find therein that objective mediation required by the fact that Jesus Christ is not an idea or a sentiment, but a living Person, and his Mystery a historical event. The prayer of Christians passes through tangible mediations: Sacred Scripture, the Sacraments, liturgical rites, the community.’”

The 71st National Liturgical Week took place from Aug 23 to Aug 26 after it was postponed last year due to the pandemic. Cremona is located in Lombardy, the region in Italy hit hardest by COVID-19.

“The weekly gathering in the ‘name of the Lord’, which from the very beginning has been perceived by Christians as indispensable and indissolubly linked to their identity, was severely affected during the most acute phase of the spread of the pandemic,” Cardinal Parolin said.

“But love for the Lord and pastoral creativity pushed pastors and lay faithful to explore other ways of nourishing the communion of faith and love with the Lord and with their brothers and sisters, while waiting to be able to return to the fullness of the Eucharistic celebration in peace and security.”

“It was a difficult and painful wait, illuminated by the mystery of the Lord's Cross and fruitful in many works of care, fraternal love and service to the people who suffered most from the consequences of the health emergency,” he said. --CNA

                                             See below for more on the Pope’s message

Liturgy needs to return to centre of Christian faith

VATICAN: In his message to the participants of the Italian liturgical conference, Pope Francis said that last year’s COVID-19 lockdowns can help the Church rediscover the importance of the Sunday Eucharistic assembly.

The Holy Father thanked God that the conference could be held this year in person, “following last year’s disheartening moment” caused by the pandemic.

“The painful decision to postpone the event,” said the Pope, “has however confirmed in a new light the chosen theme which seeks to deepen reflection on various aspects of ‘celebrating’, which was put to the test by the spread of COVID-19 and the necessary restrictions to contain it.”

The conference’s theme to which the Pope was referring is, Where two or three are gathered in my name: Community, liturgies, and territories.

He noted that Christians have always come together weekly in Jesus’ name, an act which is closely tied to the Church’s identity.

However, he lamented, weekly Masses were “harshly limited during the most acute phase of the pandemic.”

“Yet, love for the Lord and pastoral creativity pushed pastors and lay faithful to experiment with new ways to nourish the communion of faith and love with the Lord and our brothers and sisters, in the expectation of returning to the fullness of the Eucharistic celebration in safety and tranquillity.”

Pope Francis said last year’s “liturgical fast” was painful, but also illuminated by the mystery of the Cross of Christ and was made fruitful by many “works of charity, fraternal love and service to those who suffered the most.”

Privation from the Mass, he added, has led the Church to reflect on the importance of the liturgy in the lives of Christians, since “we must also pray with the body.”

The shutdown of churches also highlighted a trend already underway on the Italian peninsula which has seen declining Mass attendance among certain age groups.

“We observe that people’s perception of time and of Sunday itself has changed, with consequences for ways of living and feeling part of a community, people, and family,” he said. “The Sunday assembly is therefore misbalanced in terms of generational and cultural presence”.

The Pope then expressed his hope that the liturgical conference might enkindle new ideas and pastoral guidelines to offer to parishes throughout Italy. “May Sunday, the Eucharistic assembly, the ministries, and the rite emerge from the marginalisation toward which they seem to tend inexorably, while rediscovering the centrality of faith and spirituality of the faithful,” he prayed. Pope Francis concluded his message by assuring listeners of his prayers for the Church in Italy as it seeks to keep Christ at the centre of its liturgical life. Vatican News

 

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Eddy W.
Since the Church acted and reacted just like the rest of the world, how can people see the divine nature of the Church? Eucharist and Holy Water are treated as risk of transmitting disease. Nothing miraculous.