Feeling at one in a foreign place

Once when I was on study leave I ended up on the altar of the university parish in Cologne. I spoke not one word of German but the familiar ritual of the Mass made me one with all in that church. This is one of the marks of Eucharist (the celebration of Holy Communion) – it stretches out in space and time to encompass and swallow up such sense of separation.

Living in a fragmented world

Through technology we can contact loved ones in different parts of the globe and diverse time-zones. Skype, Viber, and Facebook make them present in virtual image. But often that is not enough; to touch, to engage eye to eye feels critical especially in times of great joy or loss. When so many of us live in families scattered over many continents, or divided by death or divorce, that need is even sharper.

The Eucharistic family

As a priest when I celebrate Mass I sometimes have a sense of my dead parents, and my Irish and Polish grandparents, being present in spirit. Stretching behind them is a line of ancestors reaching back into the shadows of history – now my history. Sometimes standing beside me are hordes of saints, mystics and everyday strugglers in faith who have celebrated this same mystery – Christ’s life and death enfolding us all once again. Sensing this, what can we do but reach out and extend welcome to all who are present – regardless of age, wealth or culture, and regardless of their sins and struggles.


Unity for a divided world   

Eucharist is celebrated with love and understanding in a world torn by sectarian hatred and divisions. It’s a prophetic sign that a new way of living is possible.

Father Neil Vaney
info@catholicenquiry.nz

Next steps

This writing is based on the content of ‘What Catholics Believe’, Booklet 6, ‘The Mass’ referencing page 9 – 10. Should you like to read more just click either of the links below to download ‘Booklet 6’ or the complete set of ‘What Catholics Believe’.