Meeting the Lord in Word and Sacrament


What is so special about the celebration of Mass? In the Catholic Church we believe that it is the high point of our faith and religion, the place where we meet God face to face, not as an idea or concept, but really and truly: God is  present in the Assembly, the Minister, the Word of God Proclaimed and most especially in the Bread and Wine that become the Body and Blood of Jesus - his gift to us of himself.
The centre of all that we do at Saint Mary's is the celebration of Sunday Mass, which brings the whole family of the Parish together to praise God, listen to God's Word, and meet Jesus in Holy Communion every week. We have three Sunday Masses (Saturday 6.30 p.m., Sunday 9.00 a.m. and Sunday 11.30 a.m.) but each Mass is identical. Some of the features of our Masses are:
  • Music: we sing at all our Masses here at Saint Mary's! We don't do "Folk Masses" or "Traditional Masses" - that would separate our community by taste or age, and we are meant to be One Body in the one Lord! So you will normally find a mix of music old and new at each Mass.
  • Children Friendly: we want families to feel welcome at all Masses, whatever the age of the younger members! The Children's Chapel is available for all pre-school children, with a variety of soft toys and religious books to help them find their own experience of the House of God. We try to offer Children's Liturgy of the Word at every Mass, so that Primary School aged children can hear the Word of God in a way that fits their age and understanding.
  • Reverence: Silence and prayerfulness are important, and you will find the atmosphere in Saint Mary's very reverent. We work hard to enable this and make sure it is an important part of oiur Sunday gatherings.
  • Aids to Participation: it's very important that everyone takes part "fully, consciously and actively": our printed materials and projectors seek to give everyone all they need to participate well.
  • Not too long! This is making a virtue out of a necessity! Because Fr James fits in a lot of Masses on a Sunday, they are normally only about 45 minutes long, which is significantly less than other Churches! You will still get hymns, sung Mass parts, communion under both kinds, a proper homily, silence and reverence - and hopefully it never feels rushed.
  • Refreshments: coming together for the Lord's Day is about more than just "ticking a box" by attending Mass. We are to be built up as a community - which is why we always try to offer refreshments (tea, coffee, biscuits and juice) after every Mass. Everyone is welcome to linger for a while afterwards!

Weekday Mass is shorter and simpler than Sunday Mass, but still forms an important part of our regular schedule. For those who are able to, attending Mass on a daily basis is a real help to your spiritual life, giving you daily nourishment to help live out the Gospel.

Is there still an "obligation" to come to Mass on Sunday?
Yes! The Church still insists that we "keep the Lord's Day holy" by attending Mass. A Catholic should go to Mass every Sunday unless prevented by a grave and genuine reason. A better wayof thinking about "obligation" is to consider your family responsibilities: you know that staying in touch is vital to keep bonds of family of friendship together - like visiting grandparents every week. View coming to Church in the same way: missing a week or two can upset our relationship with God and the family of the Church.
What about Communion?
This can be a very sensitive subject: in the Catholic Church we believe that "communion" is not just something you receive, but what we are. We are the Body of Christ, which is why we receive the Body of Christ in Holy Communion. For this reason, if we are "separated" from each other, our communion is broken, and we cannot share this gift until we are brought together in one Body. Visitors from other Christian Churches and denominations are very welcome to reieve a blessing at Communion time, but our faith is that until our Churches are united again, it would be wrong - denying the reality of the One Body of Christ - for us to share communion. For the same reason, a Catholic attending a service at another Church should not share communion there.