In the last few weeks, unless you’re a priest, getting to Mass has been pretty hard to do, in fact, impossible. Twenty odd centuries ago – from Nero to Constantine (c.64-312 A.D.), it was also difficult to find a Mass, and if you could find one, it was punishable by death. So, what compelled early Christians to risk their lives and celebrate the Eucharist? Well, unlike many Catholics today, they truly believed that in the Eucharistic action through the priest, who stands in the person of Christ, each person could take part in the Sacrificial act of Calvary: “as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). And the early Christians DID attend Masses, it was the mark of their Christianity and they died doing it.
The truth is, for Catholics, nothing should be more important than Mass, and that still rings true today. Church teaching says the Mass is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (CCC 1324) and a true sacrifice “because it makes present, the sacrifice of the Cross” (CCC 1366).
Around the world, like Australia, the growing trend has been for many Catholics not to see the need to attend Mass. In fact, in a recent survey, 54% of Australian school parents no longer felt that being a committed Catholic required them attending Mass every week. Their response in the survey was that they actually thought that they were being committed Catholics as long as they could pray to God in private, anywhere (Australian Bishop’s Conference Report, 2006). That kind of thinking is borne out by the facts: today, 1 out of 10 Australian Catholics regularly attend Mass (2016). I guess we can now revise this figure to around 0 out of 10 given the number of closed church doors around Australia.
For many of us, and in this case Catholics, the old saying that you only appreciate what you had, when you no longer have it is starting to ring true. In fact, this will be a Holy Week like very few before it. Maybe too many Catholics have taken the celebration of the Eucharist for granted, maybe we all have, in our own small way.
Watching Mass on TV is not the same, not even remotely. Why? One simple reason. Christ’s sacrifice is not a past event but is made present at Mass through his ‘Real Presence’. At Mass, we are again connected to the saving events because under the signs of bread and wine, Christ is present in the Eucharist. Through transubstantiation, the essence of the bread and wine change but the appearance is the same. The Church has always taught that by deciding to stay away from Mass on Sundays or Holy Days of Obligation, we turn our backs on Christ and refuse to carry out Christ’s command to “do this in memory of me.” This Easter, we have an exception. We hope it will be the last reason we ever have to miss Mass. Like so many Catholics in Australia, in Asia, in Europe, the Americas and around the world, I look forward to the new springtime in the Church, very soon, when we are once again able to truly appreciate the Mass, maybe like never before in our lives. In the meantime, let’s just pray, say the Rosary every day, do some good spiritual reading and prepare our hearts for that day soon, when the church doors will open again.

One thought on “When Our Doors are Closed, Our Hearts Should be Open

  1. Br Francis Morello says:

    This is so very true. I started watching a Mass from NZ, live in the morning from St Patrick’s Auckland 7am EDST. It don’t come close but that’s all we’ve got for now…until the doors open again. Can’t wait.
    Great website, really nice range of spiritual solid books, and your pricing and shipping is the lowest I have seen going around. Definitely will buy a few things this Easter. Good on you there!

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