‘Stay at home’ faith no option

South Tuggeranong priest Fr James Antony was elected Chair of the Council of Priests at its meeting today (June 25) replacing Fr Mark Croker from Holy Spirit Gungahlin. Missing from photo are Fr Tony Percy, Fr Luke Verrell and Fr Mick MacAndrew.

The Catholic instinct will not be satisfied with a ‘stay at home’ faith, Archbishop Christopher has declared, saying he expects Mass numbers to return to normal now that restrictions have eased.

In a pastoral letter ‘The Return to our Eucharistic Home’, the Archbishop likened the Covid-19 pandemic to a ‘Eucharistic fast’ but said returning to Mass would be “sheer joy” for many people.

“Some lonely voices are saying that Mass numbers will not return to their earlier numbers,” the Archbishop writes.

“… Some suggest the movement from comfortable couches and armchairs to wooden Church pews is a distance too far.  I respectfully disagree …

“The Catholic instinct will not be satisfied with simply a ‘stay at home’ faith.  We are radically communitarian both as human beings and as people of Christian faith.”

The pastoral letter offers a reflection on ‘Eucharistic fasting’ which the Archbishop says is not new to Australians.

He refers to three periods of Eucharistic fasting in Australia’s history:

  • Prior to the arrival of our first official priests in 1820, some priests did visit the colony but could only stay a short time as they were viewed as a threat to authorities. 

The priests left the Blessed Sacrament with the Davis and Dempsey families and Catholics would gather to pray in those family homes.  There was no Mass,

  • The Eucharistic fasting requirements of earlier times when Catholics had to fast from the night before one received Holy Communion at Mass.
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“Perhaps … we have lost a sense of the long spiritual tradition of fasting before the Eucharistic feasting,” Archbishop Christopher writes.

“Should this be considered afresh today?

“… The stomach pains of hunger did remind the pious of the spiritual hunger for ‘panis angelicus’ (the bread of angels).”

  • The current Covid-19 induced Eucharistic fast, which the Archbishop says has deepened our Catholic instinct that the Eucharist is the centre of our lives.

“We are not really ‘e-Catholics’ in the sense of electronic Catholics but we are ‘E-Catholics’ in the sense of Eucharistic Catholics.”


Return to our Eucharistic home – Pastoral Letter


Wordpress (8)
  • Rosemary 3 months

    Much as I was looking forward to returning to Mass in our parish, my husband and I find we cannot continue under the present circumstances. On the two occasions we attended, more than half the parishioners were sitting far too close together, and the procession to Communion is certainly not safe social distancing. This really needs to be strictly followed for the safety of everyone.

  • Simon 3 months

    The virus has not reduced in infectiousness or lethality. The reaction of the world’s population to the pandemic has made a very strong case that the human race is not worth saving, and therefore it does not matter if people die as a result of returning to Mass in churches. If that is your position, then please be upfront about it and don’t hide behind platitudes about “not being satisfied with a stay at home faith”. The Australian people have loudly declared they do not care about social distancing or hygiene. Our churches are not safe places in a pandemic, especially with congregations skewed towards the elderly.

  • Shirley 3 months

    I am not comfortable with singing. The whole of the congregation sings the Gloria, Credo, etc. Singing is dangerous, even if there are three people to a pew and every other row is in use.

  • Maria 3 months

    I appreciated the daily mass being online. I can not make daily mass in a church but was able to watch it online and am disappointed it has stopped. I went to the church last Sunday and agree with Simon that not enough was done for social distancing and hygiene

  • Luis 3 months

    Speaking as an ‘elderly’ who is as much concerned for his ‘safey’ as the next person, I think we are now at the stage where, without putting God to the test by reckless indifference to sensible anti-social distancing limitations, we can start to express our faith in the God of tenderness and compassion by our usual Sunday worship.
    Also to the point,those who are deterred by fear of infection because of unacceptable overcrowding (not to be confused with families who live together and share family transport also sitting near each other in a church) might well consider the smaller communities one finds at weekday Masses. This ensures every reasonable standard of safety short of alarmism.

    It is at times like this that I think a much greater proportion of Muslims than of today’s Christians realise that our lives come from and depend on God and that through our own efforts we are incapable of avoiding all manner of strokes, heart attacks, infections and the like. Whatever precautions we take, both recklessness and fatalism aside, and whatever strides science may make, we are still unable to foretell ‘the day or the hour’.

  • Paul 3 months

    I hope we have seen the last of handshaking as a sign of peace.  Anyone who suffers from sweaty palms dreads this part of the mass.  

  • Leon Hassett ( please only use my first name ) 3 months

    Being able to return to Mass within our church and to join in prayer along with the congregation was for me,as Archbishop Christopher said, a “sheer joy”. It was so good to be able to physically receive Jesus in the Blessed Eucharist. Attendees were very respectful of social distancing, aided by every second pew being closed off. I am sure that if the priest was asked he would be more than willing to remind those proceeding to receive Holy Communion that the practice of social distancing would be appreciated by all

  • Simon 3 months

    Do the Archbishop’s remarks about “stay at home Catholics” mean he has rescinded his 18 March 2020 suspension of the Sunday Mass obligation? He needs to understand that for a committed Catholic there is nothing at all “comfortable” about being denied the Eucharist and being forced to “watch” Mass on a computer screen. He should not be denigrating those who stay home not just for their personal safety, but in order to reduce the community risk of transmission.