The Adelaide Priests' Vocations Committee adopted as one of its long-term strategies the idea of producing a book that would give a simple and clear explanation of the Mass.
The belief of the Committee is that a greater understanding of the Mass will lead in the long run to a deeper appreciation of the role of priests in the mission of the Church.
Earlier generations of Catholics in Australia were strongly catechised through the late Monsignor John McMahon's Steps of the Mass. Even though the Mass in those days was celebrated in Latin, school children were led to understand the centrality of the Mass in our Catholic Christian life.
There is anecdotal evidence that some young Catholics are attracted to worship in other Christian traditions because their services appear to be more attractive in terms of music and activity. A failure to understand the awesome mystery of the Mass is one of the causes of the drift away from the Church.
The fruit of the Vocation Committee's work is Making the Most of the Mass, a 28-page book in magazine format.
This publication gives a history of the Mass, painted with a broad sweep of the brush, an explanation of the parts of the Mass and a glossary of all the terms used. This last named is very useful. How many Catholics can identify monstrance or doxology?
Whether we are speaking of faith, football, fishing or folk- dancing, we need to know our subject if we are to love it.
The committee of authors, Mrs Jenny O'Brien of Catholic Adult Education, Fr John Fleming of the Southern Cross Bio-ethics lnstitute, Mrs Rosemary Hennig of the Catholic Education Office, Mr Andrew Nicholls and Mrs Rachele Tullio, teachers in Catholic schools and Fr Robert Egar, Parish Priest of Seacombe Gardens, was careful to use language that would be intelligible to children in upper primary schools and would also be suitable to adult readers.
Since the book was launched on All Saints' Day 2000 over 9000 copies have been sold across Australia. The Committee has been gratified by the response of school teachers.
Sr Catherine White, the Diocesan Director of Liturgy in Toowoomba, writes: "I think that is an excellent resource for use in parishes and schools ... I see great potential for the booklet as regards the catechists in the State schools as well as the catechists in the RCIA groups in parishes. At $6.00 it is very affordable".
In the foreword Archbishop Faulkner speaks of his vision of the pivotal role of the Eucharist in our daily life: "If we separate ourselves from the Mass we become like live coals that have fallen from the fire. We need the Eucharist and we need each other."
Making the Most of the Mass is available through the Seacombe Gardens Catholic Parish, 2 Ramsay Avenue, Seacombe Gardens SA 5047, tel +61 (08) 8296 9516, fax +61 (08) 0296 1088.