Reflections on saying Mass in a family home.

Last evening, Wednesday, I accepted an invitation to say a Mass in a house. They were people I had not known, though they knew me from coming to Esker over the years, and I was glad to accept the invitation. There were about twenty people there, extended family and some neighbours. (I don’t know if that would come under the CDF definition of ‘public ministry’ or not, but I didn’t lose any sleep over that aspect of it).
We had a lovely evening, with Mass followed by great conversation around the table for about two hours. It reminded me again of what I learned in the U.S. last autumn of the growth of ‘intentional eucharistic communities’, – small groups of people who come together regularly in houses or other venues to celebrate eucharist. There is something special about the Mass in a home setting, with a small, closely-knit group of people. We did discuss the old custom of the station Mass, and what was good about it. But we felt that part of what destroyed it was that it was used as a fund raiser for the local priest. In so far as is possible, the Eucharist and money should be kept separate.
I don’t have any intention of setting myself up for this type of ministry, but I will always be happy to accept invitations like last night, from genuine people who know my situation, and wish to celebrate with me. It is good for myself also. Being out of ministry, and so involved in reform issues, it is easy to forget how lovely it is to sit down with a group of people and celebrate Eucharist. I am now about three and a half years out of ministry, and in many ways my life has moved on, and it is good. But a few days ago I had a long chat with a priest friend in the south of Ireland, who is the only priest in a rural parish. Listening to him talk about his life, I could see how close he is to those people, and how fulfilling his life is in many ways. And it came home to me that, yes, I lost something important the day that Vatican decree landed on my desk.
But that is life! It moves on, and so do we. And we cannot have everything.