Go the Mass is Ended –
Ite Missa Est
“Go, the Mass is ended.” As a child, I remember this chant by the priest often brought the congregation out of their reveries and elicited a hearty “Thanks be to God”, but as I grew older I learned that this translation of the 1960s failed to convey the fullest sense and proper liturgical meaning. Today the priest, or deacon, will invite us to “Go forth, the Mass is ended.” That one additional word makes such a difference. We come to church as individuals, but gather together as a community with a common purpose of listening to the Word of God and then celebrate the Eucharist and commemorate the Last Supper. Then, strengthened and renewed by the grace we have received, we are sent back out into the world to demonstrate in our daily lives that we are followers of Christ and active witnesses to His message of love and hope. We are called at the end of the Mass to go forth in exactly the same way that Jesus instructed the apostles: “Go, make disciples of all the nations.” The focus is not that the Mass has ended, but rather that we have concluded our gathering as a community and are now empowered to undertake our mission of evangelisation.
Today is Home Mission Sunday with the theme ‘Evangelisation in the heart of the family’ and the Bishops of England and Wales invite all active mass-attending Catholics urgently to respond to our individual calling to be heralds of the Gospel. Research suggests an estimated 80% of English Catholics rarely or never attend Mass and many of us share the frustration, sorrow and pain often caused by family members and friends who no longer actively practise their faith. Today we are asked to consider how we might respectfully reach out to our absent brothers and sisters in Christ. Charity and evangelisation have something in common; they both start in the home Evangelisation is truly evidenced in the way we live our daily lives, and perhaps, as Fr Michael Newman recently said, we just need to simply talk more often within the home about our faith and find mutual respect rather than simply pointing a finger. So let us not only pray for those absent from our community, but also hold out the hand of invitation and encouragement by the witness of our daily living and family life. Perhaps in that way we may long continue to build a thriving Christian community capable of sustaining and supporting each other now and into the future here in the parish of Christ the King Thornbury.