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Friday, February 28, 2014

Summons to celebrate

Well, it's official! Bishop Damien has issued his writ of summons to all the Diocesan Clergy to the Diocesan Synod on 3rd May at Central Hall Westminster. There will be a Pontifical High Mass at 11am followed by synodical business n the afternoon.

It seems strange that I have received a summons rather than an invitation. The Synod may have a lot of technical business, but ultimately we have much to be thankful for and the whole Synod does have the air of celebration about it.

So am I being forced to celebrate? I am summoned certainly and this is because I am a priest and thus a servant of the laity. My bishop requires my assistance to help the laity rejoice in the fact that God has blessed each member through the gift of the Church and, simultaneously, has blessed the Church with the gift of each member of the laity. Delegates are summoned too, but they have a duty to represent the laity of their parish to whom the actions of their priest is accountable.

All laity are indeed invited to the Synod and not summoned. Does this mean that their presence is not necessary? Are they unimportant?

Certainly not!! Far from it. The business of the Church requires those who will do that business - the Delegates and the Clergy who serve their parishes. The laity who are neither clergy nor delegate are welcome to be there to see how things are indeed running. Their presence at the Synod Mass will edify them as well as any Mass, but further, their presence will edify everyone, for these are the people for whom it all matters.

For the Christian, our praise of God is both a duty and a joy. We must worship God, and it is to our joy that we worship God. It is to our health that we worship, not because God in any way needs out worship. Worship can be such hard work: it must involve sacrifice - the willing offering of that which is most dear to the One to Whom all things are dear. Learning the Mass has been hard work for me and I have made so many mistakes, but that's not the point. I am still offering the sacrifice of the Mass to God on behalf of my beloved parish, and it is Christ's priesthood that I participate in that ensures that our sacrifice is perfected before God despite my many, obvious and not-so-obvious shortcomings. However, I find such great joy in doing so. I really enjoy saying Mass and saying it for the faithful few in my parish whose presence is so dear. I have improved and I hope still to improve so that my laity are not hindered in seeing Christ present with us through my failing.

This summons, then, is a duty that I must observe. The laity of the Diocese need me, not because I am important, but because I am called by God to bring them the hope that He promises His Church. This is true for all the priests of the Diocese and, most of all, to the Bishop - the servant of the whole Diocese.

It would be a great joy to me to see the Central Hall pews in Westminster full at 11am on 3rd May so that I can see the laity being nourished with the most perfect joy that comes down from Heaven. This is an invitation to you, dear reader, and it comes with the love of the Church and with the love of the Most Holy Trinity.

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