On Good Friday, we recalled Our Lord’s being nailed to the Cross, hanging there for three hours then being laid, dead, in Mary’s arms; He was buried in the Tomb, in the eyes of many, gone for good! As we are hearing at the moment in the Gospels, in particular, Christ definitively proved that He is, indeed, God; He Rose from the dead, having atoned to the Father for the sin of Adam and Eve. As we recite, weekly, in the Creed, He soon confirmed the precarious Faith of the Apostles by sending the Holy Spirit; gone was the fear of reprisals for proclaiming the Truth. We are already hearing, not only of the bold proclamations of the Truth, but of the resistance to that truth, in the forms of beatings, imprisonment and death. Did the Church curl up and die? Not a bit of it! Energised by the Grace of God and by His Presence in Holy Communion, the Church has gone from strength to strength as, indeed, Christ promised it would. He promised, before ascending into Heaven, that He would be with us, “...until the end of time…”. Saint Paul, another of the fruits of the conquest of Good over evil, recalls us to this fact: If we live, faithfully, God’s Way, nothing can keep us from attaining Heaven.
Our Brothers and Sisters, in certain places in the world, are still suffering attacks, privation and death for living out the Faith which, in the ‘free’ world, so many treat so casually. Please God we will not fail our young people, the precious Church of the future. May they grow up in families where the Faith is an integral and growing part of life; may it never be allowed to come to be regarded like so many of the fashions and interests which they may well discard as they grow older.
Actions, as the Apostles demonstrated, speak louder than words. Enriched by regular reception of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist, may our lives, ever more, be the examples which stimulate the growth of the Church!
The time has come when we must reflect upon the Sign of Peace. Prudence, respect for our fellow Mass-goers and our reverent love for the Holy Sacrifice, demand that we look objectively at this gesture; it can become too unrestrained and long drawn-out, diverting attention from our preparation for that sacred moment when our Lord Himself is enthroned within us.
The Church, in her concern that we worship God fittingly, and gain all the Graces this worship brings, has formulated certain rules which govern liturgical celebrations, actions and words, both for Priest and People; not so long ago, for example, we were presented with a more faithful translation of the Mass.
The Fathers of Vatican II called for a more active participation by the Faithful in Holy Mass; it must be understood that this participation is not in the form of increased physical activity which, obviously, distracts attention, but rather, internally, deepened through a greater knowledge and understanding of this Central Act of our Faith. We need to consider that the Mass is Christ's once-for-all Sacrifice which has given ultimate meaning and purpose to our lives and that we are there to unite ourselves with this Sacrifice and receive the Victim in Holy Communion.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (82) recently reiterated by Rome makes it abundantly clear that,"....It is, however, appropriate that each person offer the sign of peace only to those who are nearest and in a sober (i.e. dignified) manner...."; generally, that would be the person we are standing beside at Mass. The whole document is well worth reading and can be found HERE.
It has clearly become necessary to restore to this highly significant act, the dignity it deserves, so that it does not, in fact, distract us and others from, or disrupt our preparation for the closest encounter with Christ until we join Him in Heaven forever. The very fact that we are together at Mass is, surely, also a sign of Peace existing among us.
From St. Bart's
Thoughts on the traditional teachings, devotions, seasons and matters of the Catholic Church