I must admit that I did not understand the meaning of a “flash mob” when I first encountered it in a TV commercial. Now I know this phrase describes the phenomenon of people showing up at a place, coordinated by Twitter or some other form of digital media, to make a public statement. From the dawn of creation, people have sought new ways to socialize and convene. In scanning Sacred Scripture, we discover some gatherings – like the Tower of Babel – were destructive and others, such as the first Pentecost, reflected the true breath of the Holy Spirit.
Holy gatherings in communio – that unique union with one another in and through Jesus Christ – are essential to the life of the Church. So you can imagine how intrigued I was to hear of the creative bent of the new deacon class in formation who came up with the idea of a “Mass Mob.” The idea is simple: deacon candidates and spouses convene at a church for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. I am not sure if they sit en bloc or are dispersed throughout the pews – there would be advantages to both. A brainchild of Mike Sauer, the unique aspect of this plan is the effort of the deacon formation class to gather and experience the life of a parish together at the Holy Eucharist, to support that parish, and in the process, to grow more deeply in communion with each other in Christ Jesus. I love the creativity of the “Mass Mob.”
On Holy Thursday evening, a good number of “Louisville Young Catholics” – young adults intent on living their Catholic faith – took up the ancient practice of a mini- pilgrimage to seven local Catholic churches to visit the repositories – the special chapels designated for adoration of the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament – following the Lord’s Supper that evening. This group participated in a similar process: coming together in faith, joined by Jesus Christ, to experience the life of the Church, to support that life, and in the process, to grow closer to Christ and to each other.
Pope Francis tells us that we ought to seek new and creative ways to live our faith by going out. He rightly cautions that the world will not take to people being preachy or pushy about their faith but that the attractive and authentic witness of the disciples of Jesus alive in their faith will win the day! If we close our eyes, we can envision those early Church days depicted in the Acts of the Apostles – the days that we are hearing about at daily and Sunday Mass during the Easter season.
I looked at my calendar for the last few weeks since Easter Sunday and was amazed at the litany of such witnesses. These include the seniors from Holy Cross High School who are “Cougars for Christ” (the cougar is the school’s mascot) and who came to the Chancery to visit and proudly present me with a nice jacket that includes their logo. Sarah Nettleton Cleary created the “Cougars for Christ” to interest students in the sacred liturgy, and they are chosen each year by the student body to represent the strong Catholic identity of the school.
Confirmation Masses also show up on my calendar almost every evening. At these celebrations, I encounter countless young people who are so well prepared and whose letters recount the process of identifying the sponsors who walked the journey of Confirmation preparation with them. I am always fascinated by the manner in which these young people, mostly in eighth grade, articulate honestly and astutely their reasons for choosing their sponsors. They describe adults – some teens themselves and others grandparents and uncles – who inspire them, and it is often the faithful virtue of regular Sunday Mass attendance and the generosity to those around them that motivates their choice of sponsors. Of course, they also choose those who take a personal interest in them and who, by words and example, keep them on the right path. In short, they identify inspiring and authentic witnesses for Christ.
During the Easter season, the first reading for the Office of Readings in the daily Divine Office concentrates on the book of Revelation. I can almost picture that procession of faithful witnesses following the Lamb, once slain and now risen in glory!
Communio is that unique concept so important to the new evangelization. It describes the basic principle that together we accompany Christ, the One who died for our salvation and now is risen, as He leads us on the path of salvation. The key is that our journey, though requiring private prayer and a very personal commitment, never proceeds alone. We walk together. So whether it is a “Mass Mob,” a Holy Thursday pilgrimage from church to church, like-minded teens coming together, or adult Confirmation sponsors witnessing to their faith by lives well lived, the Lord leads us. Our only limits result from our failure to be creative and to place our trust in Jesus who leads us.