“Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Batholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary, the Mother of Jesus..”
– Acts 1:13b-14
It feels like an unusual day. Never before have I “live-streamed” a Catholic Mass in the place of being physically present at it.
Whilst sitting at home in Scotland, I am watching a Mass being offered at the very same moment in the Vatican, and I am fully a part of that Mass. I am deeply grateful this opportunity is open to me and that technology allows me to do this – but it feels odd, unusual.
It feels odd only because it is not what I am used to. It feels odd because I am at home and not in a Church. It feels odd because I am physically alone instead of having everyone else around me.
The reality is a little different, of course.
I am not alone. In participating in this way, I am truly united to the entire Church. Across the world, some people I do know and many more I have never met, are all doing precisely the same thing at the same moment. And in this way, we are all connected – not one of us is truly alone, not in a spiritual sense. And that connection encompasses the entire Communion of Saints – for all of them are paticipating in this Mass along with us, and praying for us.
I am in Church; it’s just that the location of the Church has changed for now. I have moved to the ‘domestic Church’. It is the same Church in which, so many years ago, I originally learned the very Faith I now practise; the real work took place in this domestic Church even if the Sacramental and liturgical part took place in the ‘actual’ Church.
And although it is not what I am used to, I am reminded that this is how it was once, so many centuries ago when the Church was just beginning.
In the Aposotolic Era, as the words above from Acts remind us, the ‘Church’ consisted of small groups of the faithful, gathered together in each other’s homes; there, they would pray together and break bread and remember the Lord. And this is essentially what so many of us are doing across the world today, even if we each do so alone – yet still we are Church and still we are united together in what we are doing.
This evening, the Diocese of Motherwell has asked the faithful to light a candle and place it in the window, as a sign of our faith in Jesus Christ, the Light of the world. I have an image of so many little flickering lights across the entire Diocese, each representing faith and hope in these days.
I also have an image that in some little – but still very powerful – way, we are reflecting something of the light emanating from the Upper Room where the Apostles gathered with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and where the Church was first born.
In this day, as on that, may the Holy Spirit descend upon us all. And may He give us the grace to see the old in the new..
As part of the National Day of Prayer, the Diocese of Motherwell has asked the faithful to burn a candle in the windows of our homes as a sign of our faith and hope in Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.