On the weekend of the First Sunday of Advent, November 27 and 28, the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation will be restored. Let me just share some thoughts on this with you.
During the first and second lockdown there was a deep realisation on most people’s part that not only do we as human beings long for and want real meetings with people, genuine physical encounters, but we need them. They are vital to our wellbeing, especially our mental wellbeing. We are not made to be isolated.
I think no matter what our age, or state in life, over the last 18 months, all of us missed our families, friends, our social gatherings of whatever kind – sporting, religious, musical.
Yes, Zoom and Teams and suchlike other platforms helped and brought some comfort, solace and connection, but if it comes to a toss-up between virtual and real, I suspect that for most of us, real wins every time. Real meetings, real encounters, real concerts, real sporting events, real parties, real gatherings, real presence; that’s what we need to be fully healthy, fully alive, fully human as we were made to be.
We, as Catholic Christians, hold that the Sacrament of the Eucharist given to us by Jesus Christ through the ministry of the Church is absolutely central to our life of faith and our life of worship. It is here, in the Mass, par excellence, that we truly and really meet Jesus Christ, present in his body, blood soul and divinity.
This side of the veil of eternity, it is the closest we can come to a genuine encounter with the Lord. Nothing can substitute for this. Yes, when needs must we can still make our spiritual communion, but in the end, it will only leave us yearning more deeply for the reality of Christ.
One of the most amazing effects of coming into the real presence of the Lord in the Eucharist, of meeting Jesus truly present among us, encountering him in Adoration, is that we experience healing. As we encounter the Lord, so he encounters us, as we come closer to him, so he comes closer to us, as we reach out to him, so he reaches out to us and he heals us, he makes us whole. In other words, he saves us, he raises us up from our spiritual sickness, and offers us salvation. We are made whole; we are made new.
So, all things being equal, all of us who are well enough, fit enough and able, should begin as soon as possible to return to Mass on Sunday. However, those who cannot come to Mass physically can still join us through livestream, and it will be good to welcome you there.
Yours in blessed hope,