Our job, in the Parish of Mary, Mother of God, is to be missionary disciples of Jesus in south Bradford. This is the unfolding story of how Mgr Paul Grogan (Parish Priest), Fr Michael Doody (Assistant Priest) and about 500 Mass-goers seek to bring more people into the barque of Peter (while entirely respecting everybody else outside of it). It is a continuation of an earlier blog which narrated Mgr Grogan's work as a University Chaplain.
Mgr Paul Grogan
Mgr Paul Grogan
Sunday, 1 April 2012
Teasing out transubstantiation
We have had our final YouCat meeting of the term. It was on transubstantiation - the students' choice. One said that somebody he knows would become a Catholic were it not for this teaching: he thinks that the Eucharistic bread and wine represent Jesus, but are not actually his Body and Blood. Another said that he found it difficult to see how Jesus could be spread out in celebrations of Mass throughout the world, and indeed why he should wish to manifest himself in this way: if we know that Jesus is with us why do we need a special sign? Another student said she thinks that transubstantiation is "totally believeable," given that we believe in the far more extraordinary miracle of the resurrection. It fills me with great pride as a priest to hear the students discussing issues such as this in such depth, candidly acknowledging difficulties in comprehension. None of those who were speaking at this meeting are theology students; they are just committed Catholics. We went on to speak about our need for signs to bolster our frail faith, about how the doctrine of transubstantiation reveals Christ's generosity (he gives us all of himself) and about how the doctrine is rooted in the teaching of the early Fathers of the Church. These discussions are a real high point in my week. It's so good to talk freely about important Church teachings. In other contexts, many Catholics want to submit such teachings to the tribunal of their own judgement and I have positively championed such an approach. I am of my generation. In YouCat groups, I sense, participants want to use their judgement to understand why the Church teaches as she does. This means that there is no pressure to demonstrate originality of thinking; instead, the task of learning becomes a shared one, as we patiently piece together our several insights. It's strange: conforming our beliefs to the teaching of the Magisterium is often portrayed as being intellectually stultifying; but in practice, in YouCat groups such as the one at Leeds Trinity, our experience is characterised by - I'll just tell it how it is - intellectual excitement, a sense of freedom and participation in community. Below is a photograph of one of our recent meetings.