Yesterday I took part in a wonderful mass. It was the Year 11 leavers’ mass at St Margaret Ward.
Well to be sure, not everything about it would have pleased everyone. The teenagers were a little excited. At one point they applauded a singer during the mass. There was a reading from outside Scripture before the Gospel. The ‘psalm’ wasn’t really a psalm at all. If you are a purist you might have been offended.
But there was a wonderful atmosphere. The pupils and staff had put much work and effort into the celebration. The music was played and sung by pupils. And when there needed to be silence in the Mass, there was.
Now I know that many of these children are not at Mass every Sunday. That many do not practice the faith that is the foundation of the school’s life. I know too that they were there as much to celebrate friendship as anything else.
Yet on this occasion, when they were celebrating five years of school life coming to an end, in great excitement, anticipation and sadness, the natural way to to this was the Mass. And they sung - they really sung - and they joined in the responses - and they listened and even politely laughed at the homily.
To celebrate life, we Catholics celebrate Mass. It is the most natural thing to do. And even amid the imperfections of our Church life, and our worries about the observance of the faith, this is something which these children knew. For it is in the Mass that earth joins with heaven. The ordinary things of life, bread and wine, joys and sorrows, thanksgiving and tears, hope and dreams are filled with the glory of the divine. That is what we celebrate at Corpus Christi - earth joined to heaven.
O saving victim, opening wide, the gate of heaven to earth below!