HYS! – The Inauguration Mass question

Prior to 2012 the university’s yearly academic opening ceremony held at the Sir Temi Zammit Hall included a Mass. Last year however the Mass was celebrated at the University Campus Chapel after the events in the Hall had taken place. A petition has been started in support of the re-inclusion of the Mass into the main list of functions taking place at Sir Temi Zammit Hall.

According to an online report by the Malta Independent, the reasons for this change given by the spokesperson for the University of Malta included that having mass in a the Campus Chapel is a more appropriate place for prayer and the new timing of the mass (12:30pm) has made the mass accessible to more people.

One might figure that the reasons given by the spokesperson are sufficient. Whilst aspects of these comments may be true, the fact remains that the Campus Chapel can not even begin to accommodate the amount of people that the Hall can. Furthermore, in general, it’s natural to give the central place and most attention to those things which we value the most. These unfolding events, like countless others in today’s culture, speak of a change in the priorities of the Maltese culture. It’s no secret that Malta is being swept alone with the ongoing surge of secularization. This is simply another manifestation of the phenomenon.

This event also points to the fact that today many people in Malta lack earnest zeal for the Mass. Perhaps because we lack an understanding of what the Mass is and how it relates to our lives. We lack appreciation for the Mass as the new covenant established by Jesus himself, as we read in the Gospels. We have also become oblivious to the, quite frankly offensive to the ears, “Bread of Life” discourse found in the second half of the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John. This I would argue is in part due to Christians who in many cases have failed to convey these wondrous truths.

It’s not merely an opinion that once an individual, or a culture for that matter, takes their eyes off Jesus, they will begin to sink into a whirlpool of confusion and sin. Furthermore, I will argue that if an education system is not firmly based on Jesus who is “the Truth” (John 14:6), it has little value. Following from our Lord’s words, what will it profit a man if he is well educated but loses his soul in the mean time (Mark 8:36)?
A discerning Christian knows that it does not take much to lose our way. Take for the sake of argument Jesus’ parable of the sower. Amongst the seed that bears no fruit is that which falls among thorns, which the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke (Matthew 13:22). We need not openly deny Jesus, in order to live a life which Jesus calls worthless. Simply loosing sense of our priories will do the trick. I fear that the re-location of the Inauguration Mass is exemplary of this reality.

Whilst asking where should the rightful place of the Inauguration Mass be with regard our university, it might also be a good idea to keep in mind the debt that the University has to the Church, with special reference to the Jesuits, for it’s very establishment.

In conclusion, I will rephrase the question to you the reader. Keeping in mind Jesus’ words to “abide in me” (John 15:4), what place does Jesus in the Eucharist have in your life? Do you merely fit Jesus into your life, or do you fit your life around Jesus, making him the priority and center of all you are?
Once you have though of your answer, kindly consider signing the petition at: http://www.change.org/petitions/university-of-malta-let-holy-mass-remain-a-part-of-the-university-opening-other-functions

4 thoughts on “HYS! – The Inauguration Mass question

  • Reply Ramon Casha 17th September 2013 at 5:34 pm

    It’s true that “Campus Chapel can not even begin to accommodate the amount of people that the Hall can”, but the question should have been: Can it accommodate the number of people who actually want to hear Mass? If not, then I agree a larger area could be used – as long as other university organisations would be accorded the same facilities.

    However it’s pretty clear that the problem is not the venue, but “the re-inclusion of the Mass into the main list of functions”. The university opening ceremony is for everyone – all students and staff, in all faculties, irrespective of beliefs. Mass is not – that’s something specific to Catholics. Even if more than half the students in university are Catholics and want to hear mass, it still should not be made part of the official opening program of a secular university.

    I agree that more people are finding religion to be unimportant at best. Personally I think that’s a good thing, but the point is: If you can’t convince people to attend mass willingly and freely, you’re not going to convince them just by placing it in the middle of a university function to make it a bit more inescapable.

  • Reply Jennifer 17th September 2013 at 5:40 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree with the University spokesman who said that the place for mass lies in a church/chapel, not in a public building. If there are Catholic students, then they are free to attend mass either at the chapel, or at any other church on the island – I don’t think there is a problem with that given that our islands are filled with locations offering mass services who are large enough to accommodate the expected number of people.
    Just because you think that your religion is the one and only truth, I feel that it is arrogant to push that onto others just because you think it’s right or because ‘it’s our culture’. A public entity such as University, should NEVER be associated with religions, political parties and the like.
    Religion should be something personal to practice in one’s time and not to impose on others. If a Christian does not believe in the importance of mass then so be it – live and let live I say.

  • Reply ken 21st September 2013 at 12:28 pm

    I walk into the butcher shop – and on the wall is a crucifix. Same in the pharmacy, in the doctor’s office, everywhere in fact! I go to the beach and watch a person make the sign of the cross before jumping in the water; same thing before someone gets on a bus. All of this is extremely strange for someone who spent half his life in Canada, and the other half in France where none of this would be part of everyday life.

    It is almost impossible to get away from Catholicism and religion in Malta. And yet… the referendum on divorce showed that the population is beginning to feel oppressed by this never-ending litany. I am a foreigner and not Christian, so it is not really my problem. But the Maltese themselves seem to be pulling back more and more. Shouldn’t there be ONE place on this island where religion isn’t forced on everyone day in and day out? And what more appropriate place than a university? A university is supposed to be a place for learning, for expanding one’s knowledge and opening one’s mind. Do the Maltese really need to be held hostage there as well?

  • Reply chantelle mifsud 21st September 2013 at 6:05 pm

    I remember that they had an order not to let students leave before the mass. Then when they saw that many wanted to leave they’ve finally opened the door.

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