“It is the closest thing to Heaven on Earth.”
That’s how Bishop Robert Barron, the auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, describes the liturgy in his new, six-segment video study program. Called The Mass, the program provides a comprehensive approach to explaining and understanding the holy sacrifice of the Mass, its beauty and its mystery.
Over six Thursday evenings Gibbons Chaplain Father Daniel Oschwald and Theology Educator Austin Faur will use the program as the springboard to their discussion about the Mass in the latest Parent Faith Reflection Series. The series, offered through the Gibbons Theology Department, is open to Gibbons parents, parents of Gibbons Alumni as well as friends of Gibbons. It begins today, January 10, and runs through February 14 from 6:30 to 8: p.m. in Room 118. (For more information and to register www.cghsnc.org/prayercru)
The goal of the series is for participants, “to achieve a greater appreciation of and a deeper participation at Sunday Mass," said Father Daniel Oschwald.
The main components of the series are prayer, video, and discussion, Fr. Oschwald said, adding that the goal is for participants, “to achieve a greater appreciation and a deeper participation at Sunday Mass … and that in turn will inspire our young people to appreciate Mass.” The added hope, he said, is that they will come back one day and say, ‘thank you’ I didn’t know this and my experience at Mass has changed because of my going through this.”
Faur added: “…The series is also an opportunity to change the very way in which we encounter Christ himself at Mass.”
Faur described the timing of the series as fitting. “It dovetails with a new liturgical and calendar year, a time when people make resolutions,” he said, “there is no better resolution to make than a deepening of one's prayer life and hopefully this will provide tangible tools for our parents to do just that.” Fr. Daniel will be celebrating Mass as a conclusion to the series on February 14, he noted.
Among the class participants is Gibbons Parent Dawn Thompson. Her daughters are Madeline ’19 and Grace ’21. Explaining why she chose to take part in the series Thompson said: “The Mass is so important to our faith, rich in tradition and deep in meaning. It's where we come into communion with God and one another. It's where we receive our spiritual food. I know I take the Mass for granted sometimes. I hope this series ignites a greater understanding and appreciation of the Mass.”
The same is true for Gibbons Parent Tom Hickman; his son is Samuel ’20. “I'm hoping to learn more about the 'tradition' and 'origin' of the Mass,” Hickman said. “Also, by having a better understanding of the Mass, I hope to be able to participate and understand at a much higher level. I enjoy connecting the Old Testament with the New Testament and the Gibbons Theology educators are excellent."
The Mass series together with another new offering next month mark an expansion in parent faith reflection offerings provided this year. Next month, Theology Educator Patricia Gallagher will take participants on a private tour of the religious art at the North Carolina Museum of Art, which has the second largest collection of religious art in the US. (View the offerings at www.cghsnc.org/prayercru)
Asked what sparked the expansion, Director of Parent Engagement Kerry Mann said: “There is interest from parents to grow in faith, interest from educators to engage with parents … parents are more engaged overall in the experiences within our school and in making their own paths separate from that of their students.”