The Centrality of Holy Communion
At the very centre of the faith here at St Mary’s is Jesus Christ: his self-offering opened the way for us to enter the very presence of God. We believe that the church should keep at is heart the presence of Jesus Christ in the bread and wine consecrated by the priest in the main service of the church: it is called by several different names: the Mass, the Eucharist, Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper along with several others. On the night before he died, Jesus knew that the next day he would be broken for us, that he would give his life for us. He sat at table with his disciples for the final time.
At this Last Supper, Jesus told his disciples that they should gather, take bread and wine, give thanks and share his body and blood. “Do this,” he said, “in remembrance of me.” The Greek form he used means, quite literally, ‘do this to make me present’ and this is where the Catholic understanding of the Eucharist stems from, that Jesus becomes present among his people when they join together to worship and to follow his instruction.
Many people say ‘you don’t have to go to church to be a Christian’ and it is surely true that you don’t have to go to church to live a good life and honour the creator of us all but it is only when Christians follow the instructions of their Lord, to gather, to thank and to share that they enjoy the very fullness of the life Christ brings. It is also only then that they are united with others who are following the same Lord and experiencing the same joys and difficulties.
What we do, then, flows from the understanding that Jesus is present with his people and intends us to celebrate his presence not in words alone but in things which are more solid. Arising from this is the need to share the love and Good News of Jesus Christ because they are not just ideas, but actual deeds infused with the Lord.
Catholic worship involves our five senses – seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and tasting – experiencing and appreciating the God who is all around us. We occupy mind and body in worship. We also honour our links with other Christians throughout the ages. We have the sense that an unfolding revelation of God is something that should be passed on from one generation to the next, and that passing on should celebrate those who have gone before us. We therefore look to the Church to have an authority which stems from this unfolding. The authority does not play to the preferences of the current age but remains true to the revelation already received.
The Catholic faith, then, is deeply ingrained with an understanding of authority, the use of our whole selves in worship and a faith which is active.
To learn more about the Christian faith, see About Our Faith here
In the Ordinal (that's the service for making new deacons, priests and bishops) the Church of England explains that it is part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church worshipping the One True God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Within the Church of England there are many different ways of being a Christian. The Church of England doesn't lay down one single way of believing in and worshipping God, instead it recognizes that there are many ways of expressing our belief. St Mary's is rooted firmly in the Catholic tradition of the Church of England and so in our teaching we will express that understanding. In these sections, you will find a Catholic way of approaching our beliefs.
We are definitely and proudly Catholic - and this is how we practice our faith.