by PETER GRACE
AUCKLAND — European Union diplomats, politicians and other dignitaries had front-row seats at Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Auckland on June 10.
The Mass was for representatives of the European Union.
On the Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus, more than two dozen flags of countries of the European Union were displayed behind the altar, with the flag of the union hanging above.
The deputy dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Auckland and the Consul for Malta, Patricia Thake, told NZ Catholic 18 European Union representatives were present, as well as other consular colleagues, about 10 non-EU diplomats, MPs, and representatives from Croatia and Serbia.
The latter two countries are due to join the European Union quite soon, she said; “. . . next month [July], I hope”.
Mrs Thake said that, having organised the Mass, she was keen for it to go off well. “I was so delighted to have so much support there [at the Mass],” she said, adding that the cathedral looked beautiful.
She was concerned on behalf of parishioners, though, that the Mass was so packed.
As it was, people were standing in the side aisles and spilling out of the entrances of the 800-seat cathedral.
The main celebrant was papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Balvo. In his homily, the archbishop said he had had a busy week, having just returned from the 50th anniversary celebrations of independence in Samoa.
When we had those kinds of experiences, he said, we collected things. “Those are souvenirs of places we have been, people we have met and things we have done. And eventually the live memories do fade.”
Remembrance is part of being human, the archbishop said. “What we celebrate today is the Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus.”
The feast, he said, is the oldest of any for the whole Church. It was established in the 13th century, when the Church was in considerable moral disrepair. It reminded people, the archbishop said, of what God had done for them.
The feast will be celebrated until the day the world ends, he said. “It’s not something that sits in a box . . . it’s not something that collects dust on a shelf. It’s a living memorial,” he said.
“We have a great gift of the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus. . . . It’s a living, loving, eternal giving for us.”
by PETER GRACE