Stephen Ray, now a Catholic, explains that even in his first attendance at a Catholic Mass, still as a Baptist, he felt that when the Priest entered into the Church and past by him to begin the Mass that, like the Christians in the Early Church, he was watching one of the Apostles coming to lead them in the Breaking of the Bread. He felt he was in the presence of an Apostle who walked with Christ Jesus our Lord and witnessed His Resurrection.
This Sunday we will be lead to feel this Apostolic presence more fully, when our Maronite Patriarch, who traces his Ministry as Patriarch and Bishop back to St Peter and the early Church of Antioch, will enter into our Parish Co Cathedral to lead us in the celebration of the Holy Offering of the Mass.
We will be reminded that the Patriarch, His Eminence and Beatitude Mar Becharra Peter Cardinal Rai, who like every Maronite Patriarch carries the name of the Apostle Peter, links us to the Apostles and through the Sacrament of the Eucharist we meet Christ and experience the power of His Cross.
This Sunday’s Epistle asks us to “shine like stars in the world”. In the fifth century, St Maroun heard that call. He did not know then that, through Christ, he would inspire a faithful Church to flourish in his name. He could not have known that the Church would flourish beyond his little mountain through the East and throughout the world.
Therefore like the Apostles in the early church communities the Patriarch I’m sure will take great joy in seeing his children here in Australia in our Parishes “shining like stars in the world” and carrying with them the rich liturgical and spiritual heritage of their Maronite ancestors and the love of Christ in their hearts.
We therefore anticipate with great joy the visit of the Patriarch.