WelCom June 2017: During the last month the priests of the Archdiocese gathered together for a two-day Assembly. One of the things we looked at and reflected on was the number of Eucharistic Prayers we have to choose from. Many of us find the language difficult and awkward in the current translations; and there are some Eucharistic Prayers we do not use often. It became clear in our discussion that most of us use either Eucharistic Prayer Two or Three. Therefore, a few days after the Assembly I decided to use Eucharistic Prayer Four. I was pleased I did so because of the following lines in the prayer:
‘You formed us in your own image and entrusted the whole world to his care…
And you so loved the world, Father most holy, that is the fullness of time you sent your Only Begotten Son to be our Saviour…
To the poor he proclaimed the good news of salvations, to prisoners, freedom, and to the sorrowful of heart, joy.’
Those words spoke to me because only the previous day a woman had commented to me about another person and said, ‘He is a Catholic lay person, making his presence felt in the world and doing what he is called to do, taking the Gospel into the world around him’. I was really pleased to hear her words as I have been thinking a great deal about the theme for our Synod later this year; ‘Go you are sent’. Eucharistic Prayer Four speaks about how the whole world is entrusted to our care; that today Catholics are sent into the world to be the presence of Jesus, to continue his work of ‘proclaiming the good news of salvations, to prisoners, freedom, and to the sorrowful of heart, joy’. Catholics come to Mass to be sent out and to take Christ with them.
During our Clergy Assembly we also reflected on homilies and the privilege we have to share the Good News with those we are called to serve. We were reminded our first duty is ‘to proclaim the Gospel’. We do that to help people of today to take their place in the world around us. In other words, the role of the priest is to help to form people to take their place in society, to go out into the word and live the Gospel, be witnesses to Christian values. This happens in families and where people work, wherever they recreate and socialise. Over 50 years ago, the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People spoke clearly about the task of the clergy and that of lay women and men. It said, ‘It is the task of the Church as a whole to make women and men capable of establishing the proper scale of values in the temporal order and to direct it towards God through Christ. Pastors have the duty to set out clearly what is the purpose of creation and the use to be made of the world, and to provide moral and spiritual helps for the renewal of the temporal order in Christ’ (Apostolicam Actuositatem 7).
One of my greatest hopes for our forthcoming Synod is that we will all work together, supporting one another in the mission gifted to us, but that we will also see clearly our tasks are different. We are all sent into the world around us, sent to care for people and for our common home. As priests called to serve you we are challenged to work with you in preparing and supporting you as you go from our Masses and times of prayer to take Jesus with you to your homes, workplaces and into society. We are privileged to work with you and for you.
Cardinal John Dew