At the request of the Archdiocese, I will be celebrating masses in St Joseph’s Parish – Gayndah for the next two weekends. This won’t impact on the regular mass schedule at Birkdale or Manly. St Joseph’s Parish – Gayndah has three weekend masses across its three churches. These churches are St Joseph’s Gayndah, St Patrick’s Eidsvold and St Mary’s Mundubbera. I will be reliving the Parish Priest, Fr Biju who will be on holidays. In speaking to Fr Biju recently, he mentioned that the parish is the smallest and most isolated in the Archdiocese. For instance, St Patrick’s Church Eidsvold is 416kms from Manly.
Sunday mass is vital for Christians; it’s the first day of the week; it’s the day of the Resurrection. In a special way Sunday mass takes on a particularly joyous resonance in the communities I’m travelling to because of their isolation.
The importance of Sunday, the Lord’s day is beautifully captured in a homily by Pope Benedict XVI. The chosen theme - "Without Sunday we cannot live" - takes us back to the year 304, when the Emperor Diocletian forbade Christians, on pain of death, from possessing the Scriptures, from gathering on Sundays to celebrate the Eucharist and from building places in which to hold their assemblies. In Abitene, a small village in present-day Tunisia, 49 Christians were taken by surprise one Sunday while they were celebrating the Eucharist, gathered in the house of Octavius Felix, thereby defying the imperial prohibitions. They were arrested and taken to Carthage to be interrogated by the Proconsul Anulinus. Significant among other things is the answer a certain Emeritus gave to the Proconsul who asked him why on earth they had disobeyed the Emperor's severe orders. He replied: "Sine dominico non possumus": that is, we cannot live without joining together on Sunday to celebrate the Eucharist. We would lack the strength to face our daily problems and not to succumb. (Edited for length: delivered on 29 May 2005)