Let’s finish up Chapter Three as we continue a bit with yesterday’s thought …
33. When, due to the scarcity of priests, non-ordained members of the faithful are entrusted with a share in the pastoral care of a parish, they should bear in mind that – as the Second Vatican Council teaches – “no Christian community can be built up unless it has its basis and center in the celebration of the most Holy Eucharist”. (Presbyterorum Ordinis 6.) They have a responsibility, therefore, to keep alive in the community a genuine “hunger” for the Eucharist, so that no opportunity for the celebration of Mass will ever be missed, also taking advantage of the occasional presence of a priest who is not impeded by Church law from celebrating Mass.
The pastor shared with me a note from the new archbishop placing himself on the “priest supply” list for Sunday Masses in parishes when needed. This struck me as very laudable.
On the other hand, despite the citation from Presbyterorum Ordinis, there are indeed innumerable examples from efforts in mission lands of communities being built up in the Word, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and even in the longing for the celebration of the Eucharist. Certainly, the sacramental life of the Church has, over centuries, proved to be the most enriching option. But there are also examples of communities that have all the sacraments, and yet they languish.
Note the final caution here: the Eucharist is central, but don’t dare employ a priest who is not in good standing.
These principles are all excellent starting points. But they are far from a completion of the discussion.