by Thomas O’Loughlin
One of the skills that is not well developed among ordinary Catholics is that of taking a lead in a liturgical act: that is an action of two or more people which praises God through Jesus. This is not a widespread skill because usually there is a priest (or perhaps a deacon or a catechist) who does this – and we think of them as ‘the experts’ and tend to leave it to them. The expert acts, everyone else reacts. But that won’t work if you are in lockdown this Holy Thursday and Good Friday. So you or someone with you will have to act as a leader if you are to actually celebrate – which is more than tuning in to a celebration – these great days. Let’s not forget, everyone who is baptized is able to stand before God and lead some sort of worship – it is a basic Christian dignity.
Many Christians of all denominations are not going to be able to attend Church services over the next weeks, and maybe even months.
Rather than film myself celebrating Mass for my friends, and sharing the video, which seemed, to me at least, bizarrely clerical and pointless; or simply preparing video or audio of a homily for the Sunday readings, and posting that; I felt that it may be time to try something a little bolder.
If you have a garden and can get some greenery, then get enough to give a piece to each person in isolation with you.
If you cannot cut some greenery but have a potted plant, place that on the table – it will remind you and anyone with you of the strange year we are in.
Sit down around the table you are normally at for meals. If you do not have such a common table, then sit around where you normally eat.
Sisters and brothers, this Sunday we gather as individual households or alone in our homes. In all instances God is with us, the Christ is among us, and the Church is at prayer. This prayer resource is for you this Sunday.
You can divide religions into those that are most at home in the large public space and those which are most at home in the domestic space. For most Christians the choice has never been visible: they own many big buildings – and that is where religion takes place. If it takes place elsewhere, that is really just ‘a follow up.’ Christians seem to like big public statements.
But it is startling to recall that the original eucharistic meals – where the followers of Jesus wanted to be distinctive from their fellow Jews – took place in their homes.
‘Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke the loaf at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts’ (Acts 2:46).
In this domestic scale, they were in tune with their Jewish roots. Every meal was to be an occasion at which those gathered blessed God (Dt 8:10); the weekly meal with which the Sabbath began was a special act of praise, and the most special night of the year is Passover meal when God’s liberating deeds are recalled around the table. This year – in most places – Christians are going to have to rediscover this domestic liturgical space.