Thursday 28 May 2015

Can we welcome some sinners, please.

 To simply be present at Mass...

Having conducted the funeral today of a non-Catholic baptised man (who was more faithful in his weekly attendance at Holy Mass than many alleged Catholics in the parish) I was particularly struck by Fr Hunwick's recent piece on the Communion Procession, speaking to the need to develop a different praxis to enable the Church to be faithful to its teaching while at the same time adjusting to the very different levels of commitment to that teaching among those who might like to consider themselves a part of the Catholic community.  We hear a great deal in the Church (certainly from my seminary time onwards) about looking to new ways of doing things that take into account the new realities faced by the Church but so often these new ways are nothing more than mimicking the secular world or trying out ideas developed in the protestant tradition, whilst abandoning both the developments and truths in Catholic Tradition. 

It is possible to respect the Church's teaching and be welcoming to those many who might not be at the forefront of living up to it (among whom, I should add, I include myself) - for who are we to judge. Indeed, I'd be very pleased to have a church full of "sinners" who never came to Holy communion following the old adage that recognizing your failings is the biggest step in changing and is something that needs the grace of humility - something Our Lord seemed quite keen on.
"We need to move back to a liturgical culture, not (Heaven forbid) of turning people away from the Christian synaxis; not of implying by word or gesture that they should not be here: but of accepting them, welcoming them, as they are and where they are, without a judgement which it is not ours to pass, so that within the Christian community they can grow in love and understanding. As the Irish did more than a thousand years ago, we need to provide for the subchristianised in our congregations a culture in which it is the universally understood thing that a lot of people don't receive communion; that there's nothing odd or unusual about 'not going up'; it is thoroughly natural and normal not to communicate at Mass; nobody will wonder what's 'wrong' with you. (And it's not their business anyway.)"

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