Catholics have allowed the Mass to become part of the consumer society through their sense of entitlement about receiving Holy Communion, according to the bishop responsible for the liturgy.
Alan Hopes, the Bishop of East Anglia, chairman of the bishops’ conference liturgy committee, warned that this attitude is making life much harder for those who cannot receive Communion.
“People at Mass have a view – ‘What do I get out of this?’,” he said. “We have shifted to a practice where everybody gets up for Communion and makes it awkward for those who can’t go to Communion.”
Bishop Hopes made his remarks while he gave the annual St Bede Liturgy Lecture at Ealing Abbey, west London, on Saturday. “We expect Communion at every Mass, and the Mass has become the most prevalent service,” he said. “But we have a rich liturgy and this is something we should look into.”
Later Bishop Hopes expanded his remarks, asking people to consider other forms of worship as well as Mass, such as Adoration, lectio divina, Vespers and the Rosary. “We need to encourage people,” he said. “I was taken by surprise in East Anglia to find
that people will come together very early for morning prayer.”
During his lecture Bishop Hopes also urged people, using the words of the Vatican II document on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, to active participation in worship. This did not mean everyone had to be involved in playing a role, he explained, but that they should be prayerfully attentive. And while the Holy Week triduum is the high point of the liturgical year, he said, priests should encourage people to realise that every Sunday recalls the Resurrection.
Bishop Hopes was appointed Bishop of East Anglia in June last year. He is a former Anglican priest and served in the Church of England for 26 years.
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