Page 9, 16th June 2000

16th June 2000
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Page 9, 16th June 2000 — Spiritual meaning of Sunday obligation
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Spiritual meaning of Sunday obligation

From Revd Anthony Baxter

Sir, Fr Rolheiser in his article (26 May) likens the Church to the family and speaks of the casual nature, these days, of relationships within many families. But he says: "There is a difference between leaving a family and just not showing up regularly for its celebrations ...People today are treating their churches just like they treat their families. Isn't that as it should be? Theologically the Church is a family... You don't cease being a

"practising member" of the family because for a time you aren't home very much."

All this rings very true but surely we must here stress the far more important aspect of Sunday worship — our relationship with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is the family into which we were lifted at the moment of our baptism. How "casual" can we afford to be in spending time with this family?

And God commanded us "observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy." From its earliest days the Christian community has appreciated that there is no worthier way to honour this obligation than to take part in Christ's gift to us of the Eucharist.

The weekly hour spent with God, when in stillness we centre our lives in Him, when we listen to what He has to say to us, when the whole of our life is lifted up into the Calvary offering of the Incarnate God and we receive him who said "Whoever eats me will draw life from me" is absolutely crucial in maintaining and depending on our relationship with Him. And indeed without it experience teaches us how easy it is to drift away from God.

Here we are face to face with "the one thing necessary", or what is sometimes called today the "fundamental option". The Church has not imposed a grave obligation here but has made it clear that our Sunday worship is a very serious matter — a matter of spiritual life and death. We cannot turn our back on God with impunity: to be casual with God is to run the very real danger of losing our way and becoming one of life's casualties.

Have we perhaps stressed too much the "grave obligation" of coming to Mass on Sunday which may be seen as a matter of conformity. without making it clear why it is so imperative?

Is our failure that of not speaking enough about God's incredible love in creating each of us to share his world and, most of all, his own family life?

Do we speak enough and with conviction of how we come close to God in prayer, are made one with Jesus and with one another in the Eucharist and draw life from Him who said "Take and eat, take and drink", and who said "Without me you can do nothing."?

Yours faithfully, ANTHONY BAXTER Bexhill, East Sussex.




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