Fantastic Day! Not hyperbole, but a true description of our parish Mass in the garden of St Alphonse last Sunday, 8 June. In the past, our annual outdoor Mass has been in Trintange, and last year was held, by the invitation of the Archbishop, in his garden. Last year was a great community event, with great surroundings, plenty of space, a worthy liturgy, and grand feast. This year surpassed even that: as one parishioner observed, ‘We’ve come home, and it shows!’.
The weather was forecast to be good, and did not disappoint. When the organising team arrived at 09:00 on Sunday, it was slightly cloudy, but already warm. As the awnings were erected, the tables and benches were set up, and all the other 1,000 tasks were accomplished, the sun shone. We had planned for 100 people, with contingency planning for double that number; thank God for contingency planning! We more than filled all the seating.
Everyone who attended the Mass will agree it was memorable: the Pentecost banner (thank you, Sonya!) fluttering in the (alas) slight breeze; the sound system ensuring everyone could hear what was happening; the Music Group on great form; a beautiful Offertory Procession; great participation…
After Mass we had one of the classiest outdoor buffets I’ve seen — hot and cold food, copious Cremant, and much more. All supplied and served generously. Members of the French community had happened upon the occasion by accident, and were mesmerised (and I’m certain made a mental note to return next year!). A couple of our regular ‘men who take an unofficial collection at the door of the church’ were invited in, and ate as well as the rest of us, and were made welcome. Children sat at the edge of the fountain, feet in the pond, eating and keeping cool.
It is hard to put into words the spirit that was evident during the Mass and the feast: unity, belonging, openness, the sense of being invited forward constantly as a community, the sense of having arrived at our community home (St Alphonse) and so much more. One person observed, ‘The Holy Spirit is clearly here today!’
Three observations: the first, we are so privileged to have our faith in Christ, whose Spirit brings us together in rich gatherings like this one. We all arrive in Luxembourg as strangers, struggling with language, culture, social networks, and often with faith. We can find a home in this parish, a home which at its best will nurture, support, encourage and affirm us. Secondly, with the privilege of belonging comes the responsibility of sharing: being open to others, generous to those in need and constantly seeking to deepen our relationship with the Lord who has called us together. And finally, an immense spirit of gratitude to the God with whom we experience the full, abundant, overflowing, challenging, life-giving redemption, given in Jesus Christ.
On a practical note, our celebration on Sunday, in all its aspects, would not have been possible without the generous, often hidden, dedication and work of so many. Our Parish Council, who had the vision to propose the celebration should take place at St Alphonse; Robert, who was the driving force behind most of the practical aspects of the day; Joe, who organised the great sound system; Brian, Joe & Heidi, David, and others (whose names escape me at the moment, and from whom I ask pardon for this!) who worked so hard on Sunday morning in the increasing heat; Helen, Sonya and the whole of the Music Group who rehearsed so hard and who led us so worthily; our Readers, Eucharistic Ministers, Servers, Chefs, tidiers-up… In short, a day like Sunday both describes our community, and forms our community. By the grace of God, we will continue to grow in every way. Photos to follow soon! Fr Ed