On Rediscovering the Beauty of the Mass

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

We Catholics care very much about the liturgy. On the Lord’s Day, we gather in our parishes and communities to celebrate the Mass. This sacred encounter is at the heart of who we are as Catholics.

For some years now, work has been going on throughout the world to improve the English translation of the Mass. Rome has called for some changes in the way we celebrate the Mass, so a New Zealand edition of the revised Roman Missal is being prepared by the National Liturgy Commission, in line with the revised General Instruction on the Roman Missal.

The process of revision invites us to experience ourselves as the grace-filled people of God, whose worship forms us into a communion of love — in Christ. Our response is to become ever more present to this sacred encounter as we:

  • Rediscover the beauty of the Mass;
  • Participate more deeply in this act of worship, the greatest taonga of all time;
  • Are transformed into ever more faithful reflections of God’s Word and Eucharist in our lives and in our liturgy.

We, the bishops of Aotearoa New Zealand, want good preparation well in advance of these changes. For this reason we commissioned “Worshipping Under Southern Skies: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Mass”, as our national catechesis.

Next Sunday, October 15, module one, “Our Beginnings”, will be launched nationwide.

Module one, “Our Beginnings”, is the first of four modules looking at the celebration of the Mass in Aotearoa New Zealand. It begins with our “Unfolding Life”. The koru, a uniquely New Zealand image, evokes our unfolding awareness of the reality of “God with us” in the Mass. The liturgy enables and celebrates the work of God’s grace within and among us.

This programme invites you into a journey of reflection, imagery, experience and learning. It is not only informative, but richly evocative, prayerful and grounded in sacred Scripture. Our journey of rediscovery invites you to walk with the disciples on their journey to Emmaus, as told in Luke’s Gospel.

In great and small ways across the centuries, adaptations have been made in the Mass. Language is perhaps the most obvious. This programme wants us to value anew something very familiar, hence its subtitle: “Rediscovering the Beauty of the Mass.”

We do not worship alone. Just as liturgy is a communal experience, “Worshipping Under Southern Skies: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Mass” invites you to discuss the materials in a group, formally or informally, as well as reading on your own.

Our sisters and brothers, this catechesis on the Mass is not just important, it is vital! Therefore, we invite you to take the time to:

  • Visit the website (www.worshippingundersouthernskies.org.nz);
  • Download the material;
  • Read it;
  • Reflect upon what is being offered;
  • Take it to your prayer, and to the life of prayer that enfolds your parishes, schools and communities;
  • And embrace wholeheartedly this wonderful opportunity to rediscover the beauty of the Mass.

We Catholics care very much about the liturgy. Let us not miss this wonderful opportunity!

E te Atua, te Puna Waiora,
God, the wellspring of all that sustains us,
in this land of Aotearoa
where the stars of the Southern Cross
provide a luminous sign
of your grace and blessings:
pour out your Wairua Tapu
upon us.

May God bless you all.

Yours prayerfully in the Lord Jesus,

Archbishop John Dew
Bishop Denis Browne
Bishop Colin Campbell
Bishop Peter Cullinane
Bishop John Cunneen
Bishop Patrick Dunn
Bishop Barry Jones
Robin Leamy SM