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The Placard …
A Signal and Reminder for our Thanksgiving to God - on every Sunday!

Dear Members of the English-speaking Catholic Community,

We all know, that since November 2017, the Director for the Missions in the Archdiocese, Rev. Msgr.  Dr. Alexander Hoffmann, has organized for us, the Sunday services at the Bürgersaalkirche. Msgr. Hoffmann also took personal interest to prepare the placard for us, that you have received and you present to invite many more of your friends and guests to church for Sunday holy Mass. The placard is an exoteric signal for us, expressing a mark for a conventional meaning and used in place of words to represent a complex transcendental religious notion, as a symbol and reminder to us for our thanksgiving to God. Yes, we celebrate holy Mass on Sundays in this beautiful Church, that attracts thousands of devotees from all over the world, to pray at the tomb of Blessed Father Rupert Mayer SJ. We are certainly grateful to Msgr. Hoffmann for his decision. Nevertheless, we need to reflect on the importance of his action.

Celebrating holy Mass and our communion with Jesus Christ, remains the fundament from which we all draw source for our daily life and all activities of apostolic service. It remains a continuing thanksgiving to almighty God. This is all, that we, as human persons, can do to express our love in return to God’s mercy. To pray and to celebrate holy Mass, at least, on every Sunday!

We recall Sacred Scripture that we recently reflected on the 3rd of June (9th Sunday of the year B), “Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you.” (in Dt. 5,12-15; the 1st Reading); “The Son of Man is master even of the Sabbath.” (in Mk 3,1-5; the Gospel).

The book of Deuteronomy (Dt.) can be characterized as a ‘book of law’. Its basic structure represents closely that of Exodus, where Moses addresses the laity, reminding all, about the ‘covenant /bond’ of God and its liturgical renewal. Dt. is one of the most theological of the Old Testament (OT) books. It gives a mature picture of the ‘covenant /bond’ and God’s revelation. This, Word of God is addressed to the whole community in the liturgy. It reaches its highest expression ‘Shema’ (6,4-9), quoted by Jesus himself (ref. Mt 22,37) as the greatest and first of the commandments. The book of Dt. not only describes the mandatory picture for the liturgy of the community, but also is used to illuminate the ‘Mission of Jesus’, the salvific plan of God for all humankind.
The Gospel of St. Mark and St. Mathew highlight the same differences on the ‘Sabbath dispute’ (ref. Mk 2,23-28; Mt 12, 1-8). In Mark, Jesus, unlike that in Mathew, answers the Pharisees by citing Jewish practice; here, he invokes a more universal principle: “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” It was clear that the Pharisees took council with the Herodians on how to destroy Jesus. Mark is here pursuing an anti-Jewish polemic, to say that the Jews, of all shades of persuasion, conspired to kill Jesus. Jesus, of course, knew that the Pharisees were looking for a reason to plot against him. Nevertheless, this was part of Jesus’ pain and suffering in his earthly life, that he had to go through to complete his ‘Mission of salvation’.

With this backdrop from Sacred Scripture, we need to understand that the Sacrament of the holy Eucharist, holy Mass that we celebrate on Sundays, is not only a completion of Christian initiation but more so, we are raised to the dignity of a royal priesthood (by Baptism), configured more deeply to Christ (by Confirmation), and participate in the one ‘Family of God’ in Christ’s own sacrifice and ‘Mission of salvation’ for all.

We are reminded that at the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed and put to death, Christ our saviour instituted the holy Mass to offer us his own body and blood, that we believe, profess and receive. He did this to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout all ages and times, for all cultures and peoples, until we encounter him in his ‘second coming’, that is, in our life when we have left this mortal world. It is for this reason, that Christ entrusted to his Church, this memorial of his death and resurrection, a sacrament of love, a bond of unity in charity, in which Christ is consumed. We receive God’s grace and blessings and enact the pledge of future glory given to us. (ref. Cat. of the Catholic Ch., No. 1323). “Take this all of you and eat of it, for this is my body which will be given up for you. .… It will be shed for you and for all, so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.” (words of the consecration at holy Mass).

When you are able to understand this, you are privileged to celebrate holy Mass at least on every Sunday, in a language that is known to you that you speak. In a post-industrialized modern society, when many migrants have to work on Sundays or are travelling on professional work, they are not able to come to church on Sundays. Such persons are advised to attend holy Mass at least during the week. We should never break that irreversible ‘covenant /bond’ God has made with us. For others, we need to thank God for his blessings and mercy, for his generosity, for that ‘covenant /bond’ he has established with us.

Therefore, my dear friends, we continually need to offer Holy Mass for the ‘forgiveness of sins of all’ and we need to be reminded of this, even if it be, by a small signal of a placard!
Cletus Colaço SVD.