15 December 2016
Holy doors are open doors
‘Welcome the stranger’ is one of the first Christian principles. But many of our parishes leave something to be desired in the way they receive new arrivals. Christmas is an excellent time to put this right
a supply priest in my area was due to celebrate two Sunday morning Masses, but he was taken ill in the early hours of Sunday morning. His wife rang the lay person responsible for that community to say that her husband would not be able to celebrate the Sunday Eucharist. The lay person concerned showed his mettle, so much so that by the time 196 people turned up for Mass at 9 o’clock, a group of loyal parishioners was there and ready to explain that there would be no Mass, but that the community would gather to pray as usual. Another group of people operated the same procedure two hours later for Mass at 11 a.m. Only one person left to find Mass in a neighbouring parish.
It turned out to be a joyous experience, which was widely discussed. To me, as a priest in a parish nearby, it demonstrates that the laity have grown enormously in their recognition of their baptismal right to exercise the priesthood of the people of God. This is a dramatic change of mindset that would not have been contemplated 40 years ago.
With the New Evangelisation, there is great emphasis on the truth that every baptised person is called to be a disciple. To organise a Liturgy of the Word at the last minute for a vibrant community is exercising one baptismal calling. What impressed me about this community was the experience of a personal friend who went to worship there that Sunday. Although she really did want Mass, she was astonished at the warm welcome she received and could not resist the invitation to stay.
Almost without noticing it, we have moved from being a “fortress Church” to being a “pilgrim Churc
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