November 1837 St. Eugene wrote a long detailed letter to Fr. Guigues at Notre Dame de L’Osier stating for him the requirements and mandatory/obligatory ceremonies to be carried out during a mission.  Explicit authorization was required before any could be omitted.

The letter is long so I select only part for this reflection.

What is prescribed in the Rule as for example the entry of missionaries into a place they are going to evangelize, cannot be suppressed, even temporarily, except by an explicit authorization from me. The consecration to the Blessed Virgin, the renewal of baptismal promises, the promulgation of the law, the procession of the Blessed Sacrament, the funeral service and the instruction after the Gospel of the Requiem High Mass as well as the procession and absolution at the cemetery, the first procession known as the penitential procession, the exercise preparatory to the act of contrition and the separate act of contrition for both sexes, the general Communion, are obligatory in all the missions. […]The consecration to the Blessed Virgin is made when the procession held in honour of the Mother of God comes back; it is quite obligatory. It is made from the pulpit, before the Blessed Virgin’s statue, placed on a throne, as beautiful as the locality can provide. What is not indispensable is girls publicly renouncing dances and other dangerous recreations. These things can be more or less explicitly included in the act of consecration that is made in their name from the pulpit. […] The renewal of the baptismal promises is obligatory. […] The service for the dead, the homily after [the Gospel of] the Requiem High Mass, the procession and the absolution at the cemetery with some pious words suitable for the occasion, if the weather is good for going outside, are obligatory. […] On the day of the men’s general Communion, you must not fail to inform them that after the Agnus Dei of the Mass, the kiss of peace will come from the altar to be given to the entire community. How it should be done must be explained well in order to avoid any confusion and, at the right moment, two missionaries will go to receive the kiss of peace from the celebrant and then take it to the first person in each row, who will turn towards his neighbour to pass on the kiss of peace; this one to the next and so on. If they know how to say: pax tecum, et cum spiritu tuo, well and good, if not, it does not matter, what is essential is that the entire congregation gives the kiss of peace. If the missionary, seeing the people spiritually renewed, embracing one another through the impulse of divine love and giving one another the kiss of peace before receiving Holy Communion, can contain his tears, let him place his hand on his chest to find out if he may not have a stone there instead of the heart.

 This, my dear child, is what the good Lord inspires me to tell you today…” (652:IX in Oblate Writings)

Once in a while  during Mass I wonder if the Presider really notices each of us in the pews, if he really sees us.  Even at communion although he might look at us briefly as we are given the Eucharist there is no hint of recognition or of the joy we are about to receive.  Indeed there does not seem to be much in the way of when they give us the Eucharist.  Has it become just a part of the job?  It is not like that with all, but certainly with some.  Do they not care what they are sharing with us?

I am a Eucharistic Minister and it is with profound joy that I be able to say “The Body of Christ” as I hold the bread or the host up before their eyes, before giving it to them.  What greater gift than to be able to offer the Eucharist to another?

Sometimes during daily Mass when we celebrate with the Kiss of Peace – it is of course said by the priest but then he might move quickly on to the next part of the Mass.  Does he not realise that this is our chance to greet each other with joy.  We have just said the Our Father.  ‘Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us…’ What could be more natural.  I know that sometimes I attend the Mass seemingly without life but it is then that I need it the most.  I need to be able to celebrate with my brothers and sisters.  My wish of peace, the peace of my Crucified Christ is real and deeply felt – it is not just empty words for my heart is fully engaged.  I wish that it were so for others and that includes the Presider. It cannot be rote for any of us.

About Eleanor Rabnett

Oblate Associate
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