Tag Archives: Eucharist

9 June, Reflections on the Mass, V: Prayer Which God Alone Sees.

We continue sharing Canon Anthony Charlton’s reflections on the Eucharist in preparation for the feast of Corpus Christi.


In June last year, Pope Francis issued an Apostolic letter on the Liturgical Formation of the People of God.

In Latin it was entitled Desiderio desideravi — Luke 22:15 — ‘I have earnestly desired to eat this paschal meal with you’. His intention was to ‘offer some prompts or cues for reflections that can aid in the contemplation of the beauty and truth of Christian celebration’.

There was one thing he wrote toward the end of the letter which struck me. He said that silence occupies a place of vital importance in the Mass.

In our missal, moments for silence are prescribed, but I realise that as a celebrant I often fall short and don’t give these moments of silence their due.

The entire Eucharistic celebration is immersed in silence. It is good to settle into silence before we announce and sing our first hymn. Silence is present in the Penitential rite; after the invitation ‘Let us pray’; in the Liturgy of the Word (before the readings, between the readings, after the homily and in the Eucharistic prayer); after communion.

Pope Francis says:

‘Silence is a symbol of the presence and the action of the Holy Spirit who animates the entire action of the celebration of Mass. In the Penitential Rite the silence enables the Spirit to move us to sorrow for sin and the desire for conversion. It awakens a readiness to hear the Word and awakens prayer, and it disposes us to adore the Body and Blood Christ.’

When I was training for the priesthood our rector at the seminary was very keen on a time of silence after communion, especially at the early morning Mass. Some of us would become concerned when the period of silence stretched to several minutes and there was loud coughing to be heard among the student body who were afraid he might have fallen asleep.

The Pope’s final sentence in this paragraph on silence is:

‘For all these reasons we are called to enact with extreme care the symbolic gesture of silence. Through it the Spirit gives us shape, gives us form.’

I love Mother Theresa of Calcutta’s prayer:

‘The fruit of silence is prayer.
The fruit of prayer is faith.
The fruit of faith is love.
The fruit of love is service.
The fruit of service is peace.’

St Pope Paul VI, reflecting on the life of the Holy Family in Nazareth, offered these thoughts on silence.

‘May esteem for silence, that admirable and indispensable condition of mind, revive in us, besieged as we are by so many uplifted voices, the general noise and uproar, in our seething and over-sensitised modern life.

‘May the silence of Nazareth teach us recollection, inwardness, the disposition to listen to good inspirations and the teachings of true masters. May it teach us the need for and the value of preparation, of study, of meditation, of personal inner life, of the prayer which God alone sees in secret.’


Canon Father Anthony

Canon Father Anthony Parish Priest

Help Spread the Word……


Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections

8 June: Reflections on the Mass IV, Heralds of Faith.

Continuing Canon Anthony’s reflections on the Eucharist as we approach the feast of Corpus Christi.

One of the presents I received on my 60th birthday was a little book titled 101 Things To Do During a Dull Sermon. Last year a parishioner sent each of us priests a more helpful book, Preaching Better: Practical Suggestions for Homilists, written by a bishop, Ken Untener. The bishop suggests that the task of the homilist is to help the flow of what Christ is doing, for Christ is the leader of all liturgical prayer. He suggests that the first thing the priest must do in preparing a homily is to stand humbly before the Lord.

Several times, Pope Francis has commented on the length of sermons. In February this year he encouraged priests to keep their homilies to ‘no more than eight to ten minutes’ and always include in them ‘a thought, a feeling and an image,’ so that ‘the people may bring something home with them’.

But he also said that the faithful in their pews need to do their part. He encouraged us to read the Bible more regularly so we can better understand the readings at Mass. How many of us look at the readings before we come to church on Sunday? As one writer said:

‘The homily should be part of an active relationship between preacher and parish. None of us, speaking or listening, should stop trying to improve the experience. Revelation is not revelation unless it is received. All of us can help our preachers feel that they are talking to people who are listening. And those listening might get a little more out of it.’

I find as a priest, that I often don’t give sufficient time to preparing my homily. I am responding to the urgent things of the week rather than dealing with the important things. Yet, as we are reminded in the Catechism of the Catholic Church — Bishops, with priests as co-workers, have as their first task ‘to preach the Gospel of God to all men,’ in keeping with the Lord’s command. They are ‘heralds of faith, who draw new disciples to Christ; they are authentic teachers [of the apostolic faith] endowed with the authority of Christ’. It is not good enough for me to put thoughts together at the last minute.

In his letter The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis has some important advice for me: ‘The preacher …needs to keep his ear to the people and to discover what it is that the faithful need to hear. A preacher has to contemplate the word, but he also has to contemplate his people.’ In this way he learns ‘of the aspirations, of riches and limitations, of ways of praying, of loving, of looking at life and the world, which distinguish this or that human gathering,’ while paying attention ‘to actual people, to using their language, their signs and symbols, to answering the questions they ask’.

The one piece of advice that I remember from my days as a seminarian was given by Father Bob Bogan. He said that we need to come to know the people with whom we share the Good News. Be aware of their fears and joys, their anxieties and worries, their needs and the circumstances of their lives. We hear the living word of God proclaimed as we listen and the homily enables us to celebrate the Eucharist and bring this Good News into our daily lives.

Canon Father Anthony

Canon Father Anthony Parish Priest

Help Spread the Word……

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Mission

5 June: Reflections on the Mass, I, Christ Truly Present

Canon Anthony Charlton recently wrote six reflections on the Mass which he published on the website of Saint Thomas’ Church, Canterbury. we are glad to take up his invitation to share them with you a little later than the Easter season he prepared them for. They are also relevant to the days leading to Corpus Christi.

Thank you, Father Anthony!

A new word came my way when I became deputy director of the Christian Education Centre in the late 1980’s. The word was ‘mystagogia’. It comes from the Greek word meaning ‘to lead through the mysteries’.

The Catechism describes mystagogy as a ‘liturgical catechesis that aims to initiate people into the mystery of Christ’ (CCC 1075). It is the time after Easter Sunday when those who have been baptised as adults reflect and review the mysteries they have experienced when they were baptised, confirmed and receive the Eucharist for the first time.

It can also be an opportunity for all of us to deepen our understanding of what it means for us to be baptised, to celebrate the Eucharist and to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation. This time between Easter and Pentecost is of great significance for all of us.

So this is an ideal time to reflect on one of the three sacraments, the Eucharist, which is ‘the source and summit of our Christian life’. I want therefore to reflect on the actions of parts of the Mass. The Jesuit, Gerald O’Mahoney, wrote a small book some years ago entitled: ‘The Mass from Start to Finish’. This is what I want to do in the next six weeks of the Easter season: to go from start to finish.

It begins even before we sing a single note or say a word. Our Mass begins with the Gathering of the people. The first liturgical act is when we assemble as Church. By coming together on a Saturday night or a Sunday at St Thomas, we are affirming our true identity as sons and daughters of God. We are not just being present at Mass, we are celebrating Mass. Celebrating is the action of the whole assembly. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says:

‘In the celebration of Mass the faithful form a holy people, a people of God’s own possession and a royal priesthood, so that they give thanks to God and offer the unblemished sacrificial victim not only by means of the hands of the priest but also together with him and so they may learn to offer their very selves.’ (no: 95).

This is what we are doing; offering ‘the unblemished sacrificial victim’ with the priest — and we are offering ourselves to God. As you prepare your family or yourself to come to Mass, your celebration has already begun. The orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann says that ‘the Eucharist is not one of the sacraments or one of the services, but the very manifestation and fulfilment of the Church in all her power, sanctity and fullness’. Christ is really and truly present with a congregation of a few souls, or a congregation of hundreds of people. Every gathering is a manifestation of the Church and embodies the presence of Christ.

I like this sentence written by Jim McManus:

‘As we enter the sacred assembly the first person there to meet us is Jesus. When we start to assemble, we are not just waiting for the priest to come out and begin Mass. We are already gathered as the Church, with Christ in our midst. We are the Church because Jesus Christ is in our midst, uniting us as one body, his body.’

So when you next come to Mass, think about how you are actively present as a member of the Body of Christ, right from the time you enter the Church building, and prepare yourself accordingly for the gathering.

Door of Mercy, Zakopane, Poland,

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Easter, Laudato si', Mission, Pentecost

4 June, looking towards Corpus Christi: A Broken Altar.

A broken chapel in Herefordshire

The Altar by George Herbert 1593-1633.

George Herbert died before the friction between Charles I and Parliament descended into Civil War. He was a Church of England minister and Cambridge don. This was the time when the King James Bible, sponsored by Charles’ father, was becoming familiar from being read at Anglican Church services. This poem, ‘The Altar’, was written to be printed as shown to represent the silhouette of an altar like that in the Sanctuary in Jerusalem. But more than the altar was broken in the Church and Nation, and we are still looking through the damaged parts to see how best to rebuild a united church, a united nation; and how and when we can share the Eucharist at one table, one altar. May God’s grace continue to help us Christians to be ever closer to each other.

God told Moses to use only uncut stone when building an altar (Exodus 20:25).

A  broken  ALTAR,  Lord, thy servant rears, 
Made of a  heart  and  cemented with  tears: 
Whose  parts  are   as   thy hand  did  frame; 
No  workman's  tool  hath touch'd the same. 
A      HEART     alone 
Is    such    a    stone 
As      nothing      but 
Thy  pow'r   doth cut. 
Wherefore each part 
Of  my   hard    heart 
Meets in this frame,  
To   praise thy name 
That    if   I   chance    to      hold    my  peace 
These stones to     praise  thee may not cease.
Oh,   let  thy  blessed SACRIFICE  be  mine 
And    sanctify   this   ALTAR   to   be   thine.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Mission, PLaces

5 April, First night of Passover: Cardinal Wilton Gregory speaks out on antisemitism.

For the coming week, beginning at Sundown today, Jewish families will be remembering their ancestors’ escape from Egypt, led by Moses, Aaron and their sister Miriam. All week they will not eat ordinary leavened bread, instead they will eat thin, unleavened crackers which cook rapidly, for their ancestors did not have time to bake leavened bread before rushing out of Egypt.

Cardinal Archbishop Gregory of Washington DC Cardinal Gregory of Washington DC recorded this interview a few months ago. . He spoke about the closeness that should exist between Christians and Jews and the proper view to take of antisemitism. He was talking to Michael J O’Loughlin of America magazine; follow the link for the full interview.

Jesus tells his disciples on Maundy Thursday, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” (Luke 22:14) And from that Passover meal he gave them – and us – the Eucharist. This seemed a good moment to remember the very Jewishness of the prayers Jesus used and we use. Cardinal Gregory spoke about the closeness that should exist between Christians and Jews and the proper view to take of antisemitism. He was talking to Michael J O’Loughlin of America magazine; follow the link above for the full interview.

MJO: What is the message you think Catholics need to know about antisemitism, anti-Judaism and how should they view that phenomenon through their lens of faith. Many people active in interfaith dialogue cite personal friendships and relationships, through dialogue, but not every Catholic is going to have the chance to experience something like that. If you were to take some lessons you’ve learned over the years from these dialogues, what would you want Catholics to know?

WG: So much of our Catholic prayer tradition is directly related to our Jewish brothers and sisters. The way that we view Scriptures, the way that we pray, the language that we use in our worship has deep and important Jewish roots. Whether it be directed towards people of colour, immigrants, Jews, Muslims, hatred is never acceptable.

The berakhah* prayer—such an important way that our Jewish brothers and sisters pray—has given rise to our prayer of blessing, our Eucharist and the way we pray the Psalms in our worship. There are so many ways that when we as Catholics come into our church, and we begin our liturgical life together, we are related, in that very act, to our brothers and sisters in the Jewish community and we should know that.

Our Catholic liturgy has a great debt that goes back to the first Christians, including our Lord and Blessed Mother herself: They were Jewish. And when they prayed, they prayed in the Jewish context. Those first Christians came from the Jewish community. And so they brought with them their heritage of prayer and worship and language. That has highly influenced the way that we Catholics pray each and every time we gather in church. So it’s important that our Catholics know that and respect that.

* Berakhah is a prayer of blessing. The Judaism 101 website gives a clear explanation which will show how Jewish prayer helped form the Eucharistic Liturgy we celebrate today. Many of the berakhot that we recite today were composed by Ezra and the Men of the Great Assembly nearly 2500 years ago, and they continue to be recited in the same form. All berakhot include the phrase “Barukh atah Ha-shemElokaynu, melekh ha-olam,” Blessed art thou L-rd, our G-d, King of the Universe. This is sometimes referred to as shem u’malkut (the name and the sovereignty), the affirmation of G-d as king.’

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Easter, Justice and Peace, Lent, Mission

28 March: Lenten Pilgrimage XXI, Don’t drag it!

Two elderly sisters living out their days together after a life of service. They were both compromised physically, but were still managing to stay in their old home. Like the religious sisters we met yesterday, their Christian vocation did not end with retirement, pooling their capabilities to make sure the household still functioned. Although they could not get to church or the shops any more, they could offer the traditional cup of tea to a visitor, and they could still enjoy a good chat.

On this occasion the visitor was the parish priest, and after their short Communion Service, as he nibbled his ginger nut the conversation turned to the parish finances, which were not very healthy. Father went on at some length and in some detail, a worried man. But there was precious little his audience could do to help him.

At length one of the sisters piped up prophetically: ‘Father dear, stop dragging your cross, pick it up and get on with carrying it!’

Perhaps, like this good priest, we need a chance to let off steam but we also need someone to challenge us to be true to ourselves and the sometimes discouraging duties of our vocation. This Holy Week, let us pray to see our cross, indeed all our problems, in the perspective of the Cross of Jesus.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Easter, Laudato si', Lent, Mission

18 March: Lenten Pilgrimage XIII, In the same boat.

A few weeks ago I heard a bishop’s letter describing how people have not returned to Mass since the end of the pandemic. We can all think of reasons why this should be, but should I stay or should I go? Despite all, I stay, even if my feelings of exasperation are not infrequent. But read on; there are good reasons to stay on board.

The other day a friend shared these words from a song by Robert Lebel which keeps her steadfast in her mission as a hospital chaplain in these troubled times: ‘How many they are, the blessed, the ones no-one ever talks about … how many they are, these nobodies, these blessed everyday people.’

Yes, there are many women and men who help us to believe that Christ has not abandoned his Church. Let us not leave them to fall by giving in to the temptation to abandon ship during the storm. To do that would be to abandon the poor as well.

Dominique Greiner, Croire-La Croix, 12 November 2022

You can find the text of the song in French, and a YouTube recording here.
Image from Saint David’s Cathedral.

Faith is never about myself alone, but about those around us:

Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Matthew 25:44

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, Lent, Mission, poetry

More news from the African Synod Assembly

 African Synodality Newsletter Team
www.synod.va – synodafrican@gmail.comView this email in your browser
#Press Release – 03/03/2023
Visit addisababa.synod2023.org for more news

Photos available here ShareTweetForward
PRESS RELEASE N.2 Unity, fight against poverty, social equality and neocolonialism as first main concerns of the African Church
The African Synod on Synodality Assembly taking place in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) entered the second working session as Prayers, Reflection, Spiritual Conversation and sharing on Document for the Continental Stage (DCS) remained key items on the delegates’ programme. 

The first item on the agenda was the eucharist which was presided over by Antoine Cardinal Kambanda, the Archbishop of Kigali in Rwanda. The Cardinal opened up the day by reminding the participants of the need to foster listening. He expressed regrets saying, “We don’t listen to each other despite the means of communication we have.” Cardinal Kambanda who gave the homily during the morning Holy Mass said “the most precious gift that God gave to humanity is the word and the word realizes its objective and has sense when it is listened to. We need to listen to this word of God to live to receive his divine life.

The Local Ordinary of Kigali Archdiocese lamented that “today there are a lot of means of communication but it is the period that communication is at its lowest stage because we don’t listen to each other despite the means of communication that we have.” (Read more here)

After the recap of the experience and process of the previous day, the bulk of the morning of the second working day of the Continental Synodal Assembly was dedicated to the practice of spiritual conversation: the method presented at the beginning of the assembly aimed at fostering listening to the Holy Spirit and mutual listening among the participants. 

Introducing the morning’s proceedings and providing a guide to reading the DCS was Fr Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator SJ, President of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar. He first invited the participants to recognize their common baptismal dignity. Baptism, the Jesuit recalled, “is our founding identity, which qualifies us to participate in the life and mission of the Church, in communion, sharing and dialogue with people of all denominations”. He then recalled that the heart of spiritual conversation “is prayer and silence” that allows all participants to express their opinions openly and honestly. Referring then to the invitation to “widen the space of the tent”, Fr. Orobator recalled how the image of the tent taken from the book of the prophet Isaiah can be compared to the African Tukul, the house par excellence consisting of a roof, walls and a central pole. Whether it is a tent or a Tukul, “the Church-house has no doors that close, but a perimeter that continually widens”. It is “a tent, a family where everyone can find a place and a home.” Finally, the Jesuit repeatedly recalled how “this is a time to thank God who has brought us together, guided by the Spirit of God. This is a time to rejoice: let us not allow the weeds to hinder us; let us allow the spirit to lead us forward. (Read more here)

During the afternoon session 15 spiritual conversation groups presented summary reports of discussions in their respective groups. Various groups proposed unity, fight against poverty, fight against social equality, neocolonialism as some of the priority areas the synod Fathers need to focus on during the synodal process.The Church as the family of God called to evangelize through formation. A well-formed family will ensure the society is good and grows according to African values.The groups vouched for synodal Church as a family of God with defined roles and responsibilities that promote African values and ameliorate the structural governance of the Church family of God by empowering the laity through formation.

Synodality invites us to journey together and not to walk alone by the diversity of our cultures. Africa is called to examine all mechanisms put in place to ensure journeying together is a reality. Synodality invites us to a profound conversion. This can be achieved through a respect of African values in which the family can play a major role. African voices need to be taken into consideration in the decision making process of the Church. The groups stressed the need for a family centered understanding of synodality and promotion of African values and a holistic catechism for all.

Copyright  2023 General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops, All rights reserved.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Unity, Justice and Peace, Mission, On this day, PLaces

Speaking, listening and reflecting at the Bangkok Synodal Assembly.

General Secretariat of the Synod
https://www.synod.va – media@synod.va View this email in your browser
#SynodBangkok2023 PRESS NOTE 3 – FEBRUARY 25, 2023A Spiritual Conversation

Day 2 of the Asian Continental Assembly on Synodality began with the prayer of the Synod “Adsumus Sancte Spiritus”, invoking the grace of the Holy Spirit to guide and inspire all the delegates on this Synodal journey to truly reflect the voice of Asia. The Synod Prayer which has a rich historical background, the first word in Latin, meaning, “We stand before You, Holy Spirit,” has been used at various Councils, Synods and other Church gatherings for hundreds of years. 
Sr. Nathalie Becquart XMCJ, Under-Secretary to the General Secretariat of the Synod, gave the orientation for the day where she pointed out that Synodality is a fruit of the Synod on Youth. She elaborated, “if we believe that ‘synodality is the way of being the Church today according to the will of God, in a dynamic of discerning and listening together to the voice of the Holy Spirit,’ as stated by Pope Francis, we can be confident that we will receive the grace to answer this call of God to become a Synodal Church.” Sr. Nathalie stressed that Synodality is a gift and discernment is the heart of synodality. She evoked the imagery of the scriptural passage of the Road to Emmaus, which could be considered a Paradigm of a Synodal journey; a Synodal style of Jesus is what we are all called to emulate.
Over the past two days, the delegates were invited to journey through the Synodal process using a 3-step method called, ‘Spiritual Conversation’. The first step, “Taking the floor” is a time when each participant of the group speaks for two minutes about their experience of the Synodal process; with no discussion or intervention, followed by two minutes of silence to consume the sharing. The second step, “Making room for others” is a time when each member of the group speaks for two minutes on what most resonated from what the other has said; with no discussion or intervention and followed by two minutes of silence to internalise the sharing. The third step, “Building together” is a time of interaction to identify the fruit of the conversation, recognizing convergences, common questions, disagreements, and prophetic voices. This method allows space for moments of grace which helps the group ask the one fundamental question: where is the Holy Spirit leading us?

The groups reflected and prayed on the following questions: Are there any concerns or issues that have not been sufficiently discussed in the section on “Gaps” in the draft paper? Are there any Asian realities, experiences or concerns that can be included or improved in “Gaps”? 

In the second session of the morning, the groups reflected and deliberated on five most urgent priorities for the continent of Asia, and which urgently need to be brought to the Synodal Assembly in October. 
The moderators and facilitators for the day were Archbishop Anil Joseph Thomas Couto, Archbishop of Delhi, India, Ms Christina Kheng, Commission on Methodology for the Synod and Ms Momoko Nishimura, Member of the FABC Synodal Task Force. The facilitators reminded the delegates to assume their responsibility to speak as the voice of Asia and not their personal capacity. 
Both morning sessions ended with time before the Blessed Sacrament; for prayer is the driving force of this synodal journey. 
The third session of the day invited the groups to extensively examine the Draft Framework of the Working Document. The day concluded with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, themed as a Mass for Asia, presided by Cardinal Joseph Coutts, Archbishop Emeritus of Karachi, Pakistan, Member of the Council for the Synod. 
The Journey is ongoing and like the disciple on the road to Emmaus, the delegates came to echo the words of scripture “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”- Lk 24:32The Tent has been enlarged. This morning’s Holy Spirit mass was presided over by Archbishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi SVD, Archbishop of Tokyo and Secretary General of the FABC.

Download the English NewsletterThrough the portal https://synod2023.org you can access the sites of the individual continental meetings.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Unity, Laudato si', Mission, PLaces, Synod

The opening of the Bangkok Synodal Assembly

The Opening Eucharist, the Mass of the Holy Spirit was presided over by Archbishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi SVD, Archbishop of Tokyo and Secretary General of the FABC; and concelebrated by Virgílio Cardinal  do Carmo da Silva SDB, Archdiocese of Díli and Louis Cardinal Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, Apostolic Vicar of Vientiane, Laos.
In his sharing Archbishop Kikuchi evoked from his pastoral experience as a missionary in Africa, highlighting situations of despair and indifference which destroys the human spirit and the soul of humanity, and situations of hope and love – the magic of Ghana which brings life and joy, that is celebrated in in the spirit of solidarity.
The Holy Eucharist concluded with the blessing of Candles given to the moderators of groups to be placed on their tables. These candles, lit during the discussion, symbolize the Light of Christ that inspires and prompts discussions to be a reflection of a Synodal journey.
Mario Cardinal Grech, Secretary General of the Secretariat of the Synod, in his opening address, reminded the delegates that ‘we are all learners in Synodality’ – encouraging us to be more attentive to the voices within the Church, especially to those voices which agitate and also to the ones that ‘do not speak’. Cardinal Grech emphasized, “a Synodal Church is a Church of listening” and stressed that the success of the process depended on the active participation of the people of God and the pastors (who are also members of the People of God). Furthermore, he explained that a proper exercise of Synodality never places the people and pastors in competition but maintains them in constant relation, allowing both to fulfil their own roles and responsibilities. Cardinal Grech added, “consultation in Churches has enabled the people of God to implement the right way of participating in the Prophetic function of Christ. “. In conclusion, Cardinal Grech emphasised the  importance of listening.; listening to the Holy Spirit who speaks to the Church and that the phrase ‘a synodal Church is a Church of listening’ must not be reduced to a rhetorical phrase but should portray the truth that it is. Cardinal Grech invoked the Spirit of the Risen Lord to guide the minds of the delegates and to give them the courage to walk the Synodal path, which is the path that the Lord is opening to the Church of the third millennium.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Unity, Mission, Synod