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Boston’s Archbishop Speaks

O’Malley Addresses the Importance of Reviving the Mass

For The Heights

Published: Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01


Alex Trautwig / Heights Editor


Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston, addressed the "crisis of absenteeism at the Sunday Eucharist" in a lecture delivered Tuesday afternoon in the Murray Function Room at Yawkey Center.

After celebrating mass and meeting with students, faculty, and administrators, including University President Rev. William Leahy, S.J., O'Malley gave a lecture titled "The Eucharist: The Center of Catholic Life," in which he challenged Boston College as well as other Catholic colleges and universities to play a proactive role in bringing Catholics back to church on Sundays.

According to O'Malley, much of the importance of bringing Catholics back to Mass lies in the Eucharist. During his lecture, O'Malley provided many examples to support his view that the Eucharist is at the center of Catholic life.

"More than we have kept the Sunday Mass, the Sunday Mass obligation has kept us a people with a sense of mission," he said.

The Cardinal also employed a personal anecdote to describe the importance of the Eucharist, that of a childhood family dinner. O'Malley remembered "forging [his] identity" at family dinners, and explained that receiving the Eucharist is a very similar phenomenon. He asserted that Catholics both forge their identities and experience God's love when receiving the Eucharist. The Cardinal went on to explain that though many Catholic priests have expressed their displeasure about the new Catholic Missal that will be used starting next month, he believes it will allow Catholics to focus on the importance of the Eucharist again.

After asserting the importance of the Eucharist, and thus explaining the "crisis" of not attending Mass, the Cardinal focused on what the plan should be to bring Catholics back to church in our modern age. Cardinal O'Malley's goal is to turn "consumers into disciples."

He addressed the problem of modern Christians losing their belief in God and instead worshipping "money, power, and pleasure." He has attacked this modern problem with a modern program, the "Catholics Come Home" outreach effort, which included television commercials that sought to inspire Catholics to return to the church.

Outside of this initiative, the Cardinal expressed his view that it is the general responsibility of all Catholics to be evangelists.

"The Church exists to evangelize, to announce the good news of God's love," he said.

The Cardinal said that the problem with modern Catholics is that they have become "reticent about being Catholic," while they should be open about their faith and open to the idea of inviting their friends, family, and coworkers to attend mass with them.

"In a modern society that is highly individualistic, we must communicate that discipleship means being part of God's family," he said.

The Cardinal humorously depicted this situation, suggesting that Catholics were once "fishers of men," but have now become "keepers of the aquarium." Cardinal O'Malley offered up one of his favorite quotes from John Paul II, "Do not be afraid," as his best advice for modern Catholics. He said that he wants Catholics to be fearlessly open about their faith and to be proactive about building a worship community.

"Young Catholics need to find a welcomisng faith community at universities," the Cardinal said.

A sense of community is something the Cardinal said he was very happy to see at Boston College. He stressed that offering a welcoming faith community to students is the duty of all colleges. The Cardinal noted that in BC's motto, "Ever to Excel in Religion and in the Good Arts," religion comes first.

He said that BC students have a duty to bring back Catholics to church and to provide as welcoming of a community as possible once they come back. BC students should be motivated to do this, because according to the Cardinal, they will "find their identities, experience God's love, and fulfill the mission of evangelization that is ours as Catholics." This is a set of experiences that, in the Cardinal's opinion, may be even more important to a BC student's development than "beating Notre Dame."

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