DSCAP 10-11: The Importance of Gathering

No attention here yet from seventh day believers, so let’s join the DSCAP as it looks to set the table for a modern sense of Sunday’s importance. What is the first value cited? Gathering:

10. From the earliest centuries pastors had never failed to counsel their people on the need to gather together on Sunday. “Because you are Christ’s members, do not scatter from the church by not coming together… do not neglect your Savior or separate him from his members. Do not shatter or scatter the Body of Christ…” (Didascalia Apostolorum 2, 59, 1-3: F. X. Funk, ed., Didascalia et Constitutiones Apostolorum (1905) vol. 1, p. 170)

The notion of gathering gets a fair bit of scorn. It’s a posture of ignorance and failing to realize the long history from the days of the earliest bishops. The image of the Church as Christ’s Body, and the acknowledgement that believers in the world come from their lives–scattered from each other and scattered sometimes in their attention to their own lives.

Vatican II is cited:

Vatican Council II recalled this teaching in the following words: “On this day Christ’s faithful must gather together, so that, by hearing the word of God and taking part in the Eucharist, they may call to mind the passion, resurrection, and glorification of the Lord Jesus and may thank God, who ‘has begotten them again unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’ (1 Peter 1:3)”.(SC 106)

Could a faith community gather any day and for any reason? I suppose it would be an occasion of some grace. But the celebration of the Eucharist on the Lord’s Day affords a connection with the Paschal Mystery. Ignatius of Antioch had the measure of it nineteen centuries ago:

11. Saint Ignatius of Antioch pointed out the importance of the Sunday celebration for the life of the faithful: “Christians no longer observe the sabbath day, but live according to the Lord’s Day, on which our life was restored through Jesus Christ and his death.” (Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Magnesios 9, 1: F. X. Funk ed., Didascalia et Constitutiones Apostolorum (1905) vol. 1, p.199) In their “sense of the faith” (sensus fidelium) the faithful, now as in the past, have held the Lord’s Day in such high regard that they have never willingly omitted its observance even in times of persecution or in the midst of cultures alien or hostile to the Christian faith.

A priest I knew once posed an update he foresaw which I’m glad has yet to come to pass. He wondered as clergy grew fewer and the population of Catholics grew that he would some day celebrate “Sunday Mass” all through the week, and parishioners would simply attend the day or night they wished. If we thought multiple Masses on Sunday reinforced divisions, this notion would certainly solidify it, no matter what the good intention of it might be.

Directory for Sunday Celebrations in the absence of a priest English translation © 1988, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Rites, Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest. Bookmark the permalink.

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