A Bishop's response to irreverence

The Bishop of Rockville Centre, Rt Rev William Murphy, sent a letter to a parish priest after Confirmation, thanking him for the welcome her received etc. but also pointing out that he was very concerned about the behaviour of the faithful prior to Mass.

The good Bishop then said that in his view a major reason for this was that the Blessed Sacrament was reserved in a chapel separate from the main body of the Church. He directs the parish priest to return the Blessed Sacrament to the main body of the Church and suggests that the obvious place would be in the centre of the reredos in the place which is clearly set up to have a tabernacle. He also asks the parish priest to educate the people in reverence for the Blessed Sacrament.

Nowadays, the behaviour of people before major celebrations such as Confirmation and first Communion can be a challenge to the parish priest. It is certainly helpful to explain that the Blessed Sacrament is present in the Church and that we believe that this is the living presence of Christ. Before first Communion Mass in my parish, I lead the Rosary. Confirmation is normally OK - the recipients are older and the people who come tend to be practising Catholics. (Although some of them need to be helped to understand that the Church is a place for prayer, not trivial conversation.)

I certainly applaud Bishop Murphy's response. It is not going to help foster reverence in Church if we relegate the Blessed Sacrament to a side chapel.

Full text of the letter: WDTPRS: Bishop to Pastor

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