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Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor

I warmly welcome the publication of these three documents and the opportunity for ‘renewing the renewal’ of the liturgy called for by the Second Vatican Council and so recently requested by the late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II.

Every week, many thousands of times, in the parishes and communities of England and Wales, the Mass is celebrated. The Second Vatican Council called this Mass, the source and summit of the Christian life.

How often have we said that old adage, ‘It is the Mass that matters’? Essentially we say that because in the Mass we are not focused on what we do, or we say, but what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. It is His Word, His Sacrifice, His Presence, remembered, re-focused, re-presented on the altar, the salvation and hope of the world.

My own hope and prayer is that of the late Holy Father, that in this Year of the Eucharist there will be an increase of faith, devotion, reverence, care and celebration of the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist.

If there is to be such a renewal of these things it will be in large part be led by the initiative and dedication of the priests of the Church. I urge them to make the celebration of Mass not only their daily obligation, but part of their daily prayer, and personal devotion and study. As their reverence and love for the Mass grows, together with their knowledge and understanding of how the Church asks for the Mass to be celebrated, so they will be all the better able to lead the People of God in fruitful celebration of the Mass.

I urge too the whole Church, young and old, to take time to reflect on the  contribution they can make to the worthy celebration of the Mass. Through their reverence and love for the Mass each one can make a contribution, both those who exercise particular ministry and all those who gather as members of the Body of Christ.

The revised General Instruction to the Roman Missal, prepared by the Holy See; Celebrating the Mass, a document of our own Bishops’ Conference and the material for small group study and reflection, With Hearts and Minds, produced by the Liturgy Office, have something to offer us all. I hope the Church in England and Wales will take full advantage of them.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor
Archbishop of Westminster
President of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

Bishop Arthur Roche

In this ‘Year of the Eucharist’ the late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, highlighted the importance of the Eucharist in the life of the Church.

His own love and understanding of the Eucharist informed his ministry in every way. Millions of people are witnesses to the devotion and love with which he celebrated the Mass. His teachings on the Eucharist remain a rich resource for the Church. The encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, the annual letters to priests on Holy Thursday explored many dimensions of this great Mystery, and his Apostolic letter Mane Nobsicum Domine spoke eloquently of his hopes for the ‘Year of the Eucharist’.

One specific project which he singled out and commended to parish communities was the study of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. This document (the user’s guide to the Missal) has recently been revised by the Holy See, and the authorised translation for use in England and Wales is now published. Together with this, the Bishops of England and Wales have produced Celebrating the Mass, a companion text to the General Instruction, which many people will find a most accessible accompanying document.

To assist parishes in the study of these documents, the Liturgy Office of the Bishops’ Conference has produced a range of resource material which can be downloaded from its website. In addition, a study programme has also been published: With Hearts and Minds is designed for use by small parish groups.

As the Holy Father said, ‘The Eucharist is a great mystery! And it is one which above all must be well celebrated. Holy Mass needs to be set at the centre of the Christian life and celebrated in a dignified manner by every community, in accordance with established norms, with the participation of the assembly, with the presence of ministers who carry out their assigned tasks and with a serious concern that singing and liturgical music be suitably sacred.’ (Mane Nobiscum Domine 17)

Much has been achieved already in implementing the renewal of the liturgy as required by the Second Vatican Council. These publications will provide priests and people with the opportunity to take stock of what has been achieved already and take responsibility for what is still needed.

Bishop Arthur Roche
Bishop of Leeds
Chairman of the Department for Christian Life and Worship,
Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

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