Bishop Mark O'Toole, Lead Bishop for Evangelisation and Discipleship, introduces our series 'The Day of the Lord - Dies Domini'.
Recently I spent a few days with some of our priests. And on one of the afternoons we visited a lovely little Church in a small hamlet town in Devon – Doddiscombsleigh.
The Church was dedicated to St. Michael and it has a remarkable set of stained glass windows which date from the 15th century. One of the most impressive is a window which depicts Christ in all His glory, sitting on his throne in heaven with images of the seven sacraments around him.
Jesus still manifests, even though he’s sitting on his throne in glory, the wounds of His Crucifixion – the wounds in His hands, His side, and His feet. From these bloodlines flow to each of the images depicting one of the sacraments. From the nailed wound of Christ’s hand flows the bloodline leading to the Eucharist. It’s a powerful image, this stained glass window, especially when one thinks that it dates from around 1450 and has survived the excesses of the Reformation when many such images were destroyed.
We are all learning to live with the ravages of this deadly virus. Thankfully, now we can celebrate Mass and the sacraments in our churches. Now is the time for us to return once more, physically if we are able, to the celebration of Mass on Sunday. Sunday is indeed Dies Domini, the day of the Lord. When we come to Mass on Sunday, we experience that lifeblood which the Lord wants to give to us from His glorified wounds.
Being only virtually present is a poor substitute. Of course, the virtual means of communication will continue to be a valued service for those who are sick or those unable to come to Church for whatever reason on a Sunday.
Our participation at broadcasted Masses was also essential at a time when there was no possibility of community celebrations. Yet no broadcast is comparable to personal participation, and it cannot replace it. The Lord stresses this physical contact when he says in St. John’s Gospel, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.”
This physical contact which we have with the Lord at Mass is vital, indispensable and irreplaceable for us as Catholics.
For this reason, the Bishops’ Conference is offering a series of podcasts in these days which invite us to reflect carefully on our own situation. Let us look sensitively at what is possible for us in the circumstances of our lives. And if it is possible, let us return to being present physically at Sunday Mass. We can do so safely. The Lord wants us to do so, so that we can encounter Him fully in His glorious and Risen Body. Let us return to Him.
God bless you.