Yes, Sunday Eucharist is centrally important.
Since John Paul II said: “…among the many activities of a parish, “none is as vital or as community-forming as the Sunday celebration of the Lord’s Day and his Eucharist”, how is it possible that our Church authorities do not take steps to ensure every parish can celebrate?
He said, “it is first of all the parents who must teach their children to participate in Sunday Mass,” but if the Church does not ensure Sunday Mass is available to all, parents will be frustrated in this.
He underlined the importance of “ensuring that parish assemblies are not without the necessary ministry of priests”, but the Church is not ensuring this.
No, it’s not a matter of further clericalising of the Church. Rather the opposite. We must have full provision for the necessary ministry of celebrating the Eucharist, without expanding a clerical group along the current model.
When the early Church found needs were not being met, they made a decision to appoint those whom they called deacons. The Church today must use its accumulated wisdom and imagination to address the urgent needs of today.
Our hierarchy must have the courage to bring proposals to Pope Francis; they must not wait another five or ten or twenty years. Could every parish in the country write to their bishop about it? What would be the reaction? Please – try to avoid cynicism!
John Paul II: Dies Domini, 1998
(Part of what is given in the 2016 Liturgical Calendar for Ireland, pages 111-112.)
- Because of its special solemnity and the obligatory presence of the community, and because it is celebrated “on the day when Christ conquered death and gave us a share in his immortal life”, the Sunday Eucharist expresses with greater emphasis its inherent ecclesial dimension. It becomes the paradigm for other Eucharistic celebrations.Each community, gathering all its members for the “breaking of the bread”, becomes the place where the mystery of the Church is concretely made present. In celebrating the Eucharist, the community opens itself to communion with the universal Church, imploring the Father to “remember the Church throughout the world” and make her grow in the unity of all the faithful with the Pope and with the Pastors of the particular Churches, until love is brought to perfection.
- Therefore, the dies Domini is also the dies Ecclesiae. This is why on the pastoral level the community aspect of the Sunday celebration should be particularly stressed. As I have noted elsewhere, among the many activities of a parish, “none is as vital or as community-forming as the Sunday celebration of the Lord’s Day and his Eucharist”.Mindful of this, the Second Vatican Council recalled that efforts must be made to ensure that there is “within the parish, a lively sense of community, in the first place through the community celebration of Sunday Mass”. Subsequent liturgical directives made the same point, asking that on Sundays and holy days the Eucharistic celebrations held normally in other churches and chapels be coordinated with the celebration in the parish church, in order “to foster the sense of the Church community, which is nourished and expressed in a particular way by the community celebration on Sunday, whether around the Bishop, especially in the Cathedral, or in the parish assembly, in which the pastor represents the Bishop”.
- The Sunday assembly is the privileged place of unity: it is the setting for the celebration of the sacramentum unitatiswhich profoundly marks the Church as a people gathered “by” and “in” the unity of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. For Christian families, the Sunday assembly is one of the most outstanding expressions of their identity and their “ministry” as “domestic churches”, when parents share with their children at the one Table of the word and of the Bread of Life. We do well to recall in this regard that it is first of all the parents who must teach their children to participate in Sunday Mass; they are assisted in this by catechists, who are to see to it that initiation into the Mass is made a part of the formation imparted to the children entrusted to their care, explaining the important reasons behind the obligatory nature of the precept. When circumstances suggest it, the celebration of Masses for Children, in keeping with the provisions of the liturgical norms, can also help in this regard.
At Sunday Masses in parishes, insofar as parishes are “Eucharistic communities”, it is normal to find different groups, movements, associations and even the smaller religious communities present in the parish. This allows everyone to experience in common what they share most deeply, beyond the particular spiritual paths which, by discernment of Church authority, legitimately distinguish them. This is why on Sunday, the day of gathering, small group Masses are not to be encouraged: it is not only a question of ensuring that parish assemblies are not without the necessary ministry of priests, but also of ensuring that the life and unity of the Church community are fully safeguarded and promoted.