LITURGY MATTERS: Shine the Light of Christ

Some weeks ago I wrote about how, as a Church, we might mark the Perpetual Day of Remembrance, which Bishop Bill declared in 2017 as one of the ways we would hold our history of child sexual abuse. This week, I invite you to participate in what the Diocesan Liturgy Council’s Working Party has prepared as our church's response.     

While there will be a variety of events on and around 15 September, the Church’s response is a faith response. I don’t know about you, but the line from the readings last Sunday that keeps echoing through my mind and heart is, ‘It was by faith’. And in the Gospel, Luke reminds us that it is by faith that we are 'called to action and to have our lamps lit'.

It is by faith, in Christ through baptism, that we are bound to each other as brothers and sisters; a bond so deep that, as Paul says, when ‘one member suffers in the body of Christ which is the Church, all the members suffer with that member’ (1 Cor 12:26). The corollary, of course, is that we have a responsibility to do something about that suffering; to be Christ for our brothers and sisters.

It is by faith, in Christ and through baptism, that we are enlightened by Christ, with the responsibility to walk as ‘children of the light’, (Rite of Baptism) shining the light of Christ into every nook and cranny of our lives and our world.

It is by faith that you are invited to participate in the Church of Maitland-Newcastle’s 2019 faith response to the Day of Perpetual Remembrance. Our response is called, ‘Shine the Light of Christ’. By next week, the resources will be available. Bishop Bill has written an accompanying letter. 

In respecting our diversity, the resources provide a range of responses that we hope will enable everyone, as individuals and communities, to participate in a way that is most appropriate for you. That said, there is an imperative here. By faith we are called to action. While you and I might not have been responsible for the abuse, as members of the Church we are responsible for the integrity of the Church's response today. If we don’t shine the light of Christ into this darkness, no one else is going to. So as individuals and as communities ‘by faith’, we must do something. Faith, of its nature, is a verb.

The following summarises the different ways we can participate:

  • Everyone is invited to participate in the Shine the Light of Christ Vigil on the night of September 14 by leaving on a light in your home, church, school, building or workplace; the latter especially if you are a Church or diocesan agency. There is a prayer to accompany this action. Together, let’s light up our town on 14 September.
  • Everyone is invited to join your local parish community for mass on 15 September. A range of suggestions are offered to help bring the story of abuse in this church to the liturgy, and to offer it through, with and in Christ’s dying and rising. In mass, we shine the light of Christ’s hope, and pray that we will all be transformed to live with Gospel integrity.
  • A range of resources is provided to support schools in considering how they mark this day. These resources focus on God’s mercy and the relational responsibility we each have to create a culture of safety and support where each person has the opportunity to grow and flourish.

These resources will be sent to parishes and schools next week. Some of them will be available on our various media platforms. 

Together let us by faith respond to God’s call to action, and in the modern sense, ‘have our lamps lit’ on Saturday night September 14. We are the Light of Christ. Let us shine the light of Christ in our prayer and our lives.

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Louise Gannon rsj Image
Louise Gannon rsj

Louise Gannon rsj is the Diocesan Manager of Worship and Prayer.