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THE LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST: The Concluding Rites
A gathering as formal and structured as the celebration of the Eucharist merits a valedictory moment, a moment of final blessing before the celebration concludes and all the participants return to the activities of daily life. While this rites may be brief, they show us the connection between liturgy and life.
At this moment of the Mass announcements can be made, and many parishes use this moment to present the important points of the weekly parish bulletin. You may ask yourself what spiritual fruit comes from meditating on the announcements, but the Mass is not over yet, so there is spiritual fruit to be reaped here as well.
The Eucharist is celebrated in a community and by a community
The announcements usually regard the happenings of parish where the Eucharist is being celebrated. They remind us that the Eucharist is celebrated in a community and by a community. People are more mobile today, so sometimes they move between parishes based on convenience. Parishes now often cover wider geographical areas, but many feel a certain parish is their “home” parish.
If you’ve been baptized, you have a home parish; your name is written in a baptismal registry somewhere to remember where you were born into new life in Christ. It may not even have been in the church; it could have been the hospital where you were born premature, but even then that baptism was registered by a parish.
If everyone has a home parish, not everyone treats their parish like a home. You may no longer attend the parish where you were baptized, but the parish you attend should be like home. If your parish doesn’t feel like home it is an important point to explore in prayer. Is the pastor? Is it your fellow parishioners? Is it you?
Depending on where we live we may have the possibility of parish hopping when something rubs us the wrong way in a parish, but in prayer it’s important to examine whether our motives are superficial or well-founded. Even in our own families there are tensions and misunderstandings, so the family of faith is no different.
Prayer and action
The announcements often request volunteers or support for some parish, diocesan, or Church project or initiative, and we feel the pressure. Everyone has a stake in building up the Church, and everyone can help in one way or another. The parish is one way of giving something back.
A decree from the Second Vatican Council regarding the apostolate of the laity, Apostolicam actuositatem, doesn’t mince words: “The Church was founded for the purpose of spreading the kingdom of Christ throughout the earth for the glory of God the Father, to enable all men to share in His saving redemption, and that through them the whole world might enter into a relationship with Christ. All activity of the Mystical Body directed to the attainment of this goal is called the apostolate, which the Church carries on in various ways through all her members. For the Christian vocation by its very nature is also a vocation to the apostolate. […] the organic union in this body and the structure of the members are so compact that the member who fails to make his proper contribution to the development of the Church must be said to be useful neither to the Church nor to himself” (n. 2).
Every human endeavor, especially one based on volunteers, runs the risk of a few eager volunteers doing everything and burning out. Apostolate is no different, but we have an edge: we are nourished by the Bread of Life and filled with charity. Getting involved in the parish keeps us from becoming spiritual couch potatoes.
Challenge yourself by not only taking home the parish bulletin this week, but reading it and seeing whether you can do more.
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