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Sacred Heart

Catholic Church

Henley-On-Thames

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Celebrating Mass in an Empty Church

As we return to lock down, I am asked once again a familiar question:

What is it like to celebrate Mass in an empty Church?

Firstly, I endeavour to celebrate Mass as reverently and prayerfully as is possible. Of course, I do that all the time, but I make sure my actions and pronunciation are clear for the camera and sound. I talk a little slower than usual.

Secondly, I focus carefully on my parishioners whom I am missing. Thankfully, several email with requests for prayers and for those dear to them. I keep them uppermost in my mind. I visualise where people usually sit, or speak to one or two individuals. Speaking personally, as if to one other person.

Thirdly, I try to ensure that the liturgy is celebrated as carefully as possible. I make sure I practice the readings. I have musicians who record the Psalm and Alleluia every week. Others who compose music - a Pie Jesu for Remembrance Sunday, a Marian Anthem for Eastertide, May and October and other music in Church. I lead the congregation with four hymns, while still continuing to incense the Altar. Sometimes balancing all these things at once is a challenge.

Finally, and most importantly, you never know who is watching: I make sure my homily is at least twice as good as before lock down - or I work twice as long on it.

Which in turn leads to the second familiar question: Why does Mass take much longer when you are on your own? As compared to when I had a congregation?

Come and See!

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Where are we?

Address

31 Vicarage Road, Henley-on-Thames
Oxfordshire, RG9 1HT

Telephone: 01491 573 258
Email: sh.henley@rcaob.org.uk