It has been three months since we returned for the celebration of the Sacraments in-person in church and we have realised that “it is necessary and urgent to return to the normality of Christian life.” Even though churches have reopened for Weekend Masses and have permitted the elderly (70 years and above) and children (12 years and below) to attend Mass, the actual turnout is consistently lower than the numbers registered. Parishioners need to return to the celebration of the Eucharist in church “with a purified heart, with a renewed amazement, with an increased desire to meet the Lord, to be with Him, to receive Him and to bring Him to our brothers and sisters with the witness of a life full of faith, love and hope.”
I was reading a letter sent to bishop conferences around the world written by Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. In his letter entitled – “Let us Return to the Eucharist with Joy”, he urges us to return to the Church despite COVID-19 – with adherence to Standard Operating Procedures. We realise that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a change in social, economic, family, community and liturgical celebrations.
I would like to share a few points highlighted by Cardinal Robert Sarah in his letter:
- We cannot live as Christians without the Word of the Lord in the celebration of the Mass.
- We cannot live as Christians without participating in the sacrifice of the Lord who gives Himself unreservedly to save and lead us back to the Father.
- We cannot live without the banquet of the Eucharist which we are invited to receive the Risen Lord who is “truly and really present in the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Bread of Heaven.”
- We cannot be without Christian community, the family of the Lord, where we need to meet our fellow brothers and sisters and build our fraternity. In this Christian communities, we discover our charisms, vocations and search for holiness and salvation of our souls.
- We cannot be without the house of the Lord, which is our home. In this house of God, our faith is born and we discover the presence of the Lord. In this God’s house, we receive the Sacraments of Baptism, Holy Eucharist, Confirmation and, Matrimony and religious life are consecrated. In this holy ground, we pray and give thanks, rejoice and weep, and we say our final goodbye to our loved ones who have completed their earthly life.
- We cannot be without the Day of the Lord, without Sunday which gives us a significance to our successions of days of work and to family and social responsibility.
We acknowledge that social media has performed a valued service in broadcasting the Holy Mass, particularly during the MCO, and it will continue to provide this necessary service, particularly to the sick and elderly, who are unable to go to Church. These broadcasts of Holy Mass should not “risk distancing us from a personal and intimate encounter with the Lord in the Eucharist” in the house of the Lord. Our “physical contact with the Lord is vital, indispensable and irreplaceable.” It is time for us to safely return to the house of the Lord in-person, celebrating Jesus in our lives.
Last weekend (12 & 13 September) our Form 5 students, who are preparing to receive the Sacrament of Conformation on 11 October 2020, attended an online Theology of the Body (TOB) session, conducted by the Archdiocesan Pastoral Institute Catechetical Team. The next program will be recollections in-person, presented at St Joseph’s Formation House. The theme of the recollection will be “A Call To Make A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD.” It will be held over three consecutive Sundays (20 & 27 September and 4 October) as part of their final preparation, before receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation on Sunday, 11 October 2020 at 2pm.
From 4 October 2020 onwards, we will resume our Catechism classes for primary and secondary students every Sunday for an hour (1030am -1130am). We hope parents will cooperate and allow their children to return to lessons in-person.
Gradually, we encourage our Parishioners to safely return to the life of the Church, and get involved in Church activities, as we continue to value our faith in Christ Jesus with great responsibility and commitment in the New Evangelisation.
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy