Sunday, 26 September 2010

The Legacy of the Holy Father's Visit

One of the great things about the Holy Father's visit was how he preached the Gospel at all times - and only used words when necessary.

The words he did use were very well chosen, and repay careful study. But what I want to focus on is what he taught by his actions.

For example, he celebrated Mass with a crucifix in the centre of the altar. This is a direct refutation of the liturgical mindset that thinks it's all about making eye contact with the people, and the priest as animator...

He used silence: recognising that we are more likely to hear the words of God in our heart if we pause from the busy-ness of doing and talking all through the liturgy. Silence as a most profound active participation...

And of course, he distributed Holy Communion only to people kneeling, and only onto the tongue; surely he is teaching that this is preferable - and certainly legitimate.

People have sometimes questioned my insistence on receiving in this way, as though it is a maverick action, symbolic of disunity. The Holy Father has given the lie to that, and I think he has, by his example, taught that everyone who wishes to receive in that way should feel free to do so.

Perhaps we can persuade our bishops and priests to provide kneelers for the purpose: after all, they did when the Holy Father came to town...

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