Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mass: What an Experience

It's not uncommon for me to see my friends post Facebook statuses that say something to the effect of how amazing their church service was that day or afternoon or whatever. I alway smile and move along, while thinking in the back of my head, "It may have been nice but it didn't have the Eucharist." But it got me to thinking, we DO have the Eucharist. Why don't we ever leave mass going, "WHOOO!!!! Mass was AWESOME!!! HIGH FIVE!" Why don't we do that? Probably because most of the time we are kind of bored.

There, I said it. Mass is often boring. That's not to say that there haven't been times that I've come out of mass pondering a good homily. There are even times when I go up for communion and I'm practically in tears. Other times afterwards I'm just spiritually drained. But there have been pleanty of times I've sat there thinking, "Is this homily EVER going to end?" (not with my priest. My priest gives great homilies (hear that Fr. Matthew?)) Or I'll drift off and think about the previous night or what I've got planned for the day. It's real difficult for me to keep a train of thought.

I think the problem of why we commonly get bored at mass is that we are looking at it purely from the PHYSICAL perspective. This is undertandable. After all, so much in mass appeals to our physical senses. The smell of the incense, the physical positioning of our bodies either standing, sitting and kneeling. The sights. That's why grand churches were built--in order to make us look up and to help us. The thing is, as physical beings, it's difficult for us to see beyond the physical and to see the spiritual. It's difficult for us to see the spiritual stuff thats IN the physical--such as the divine presence in the Eucharist.

Our challenge at mass is to punch through the physical sights that are in front of us and see the spiritual sights that are there. You see, mass is heaven on Earth. Get yourself to mass early and open yourself to prayer before hand. Shut out the sounds of those people around you catching up on the gossip for the last week and anticipate what is about to happen. I imagine a great curtain seperating Heaven and Earth being lifted up as the opening hymm begins. We can see not only the guardian angels who are with us always but also all of the angels in Heaven and all of the saints. All of our loved ones there----with us--to join us in the worship of God.

Sink into the scriptures. Listen to the homily and appreciate that even though it may not seem to be speaking to us that perhaps it's speaking right to the person behind us. Send up our prayers during the prayers of the faithful. Listen to what you are saying during the Nicine Creed and don't just say it in a rote manner. And then get ready because the best is about to come.

The liturgy of the Eucharst---the second part of the mass. Listen, appreciate what the priest is saying. Realize that you ARE singing along with the choirs of angels when you sing, Holy, Holy, Holy. Visualize what is going on during the consecration---recreat the image of the Last Supper going on in front of you as the priest says the words. Realize that we are transcending time and space and we are present at the foot of calvary in that moment.

Get impatient---not because mass is almost over but because it's almost time for communion. You are about to have the body, blood, soul and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ placed in your hands in order to nourish you. In order to feed you and give you that spiritual nutriontion that you need. Let that sink in . . . God, loves you so much that he not only became human in order to become the perfect sacrifice so that we can have eternal life but made it so that He can be physically present to us to take care of us everytime we go to mass.

As we return to our pews, we kneel down and pray--and what a perfect time for prayer. God is never closer to us than he is when we partake in the Eucharist. Speak to Him. Listen to Him.

The priest offers us the final blessing as well as to command to take the gopsel out to the world. As the final hymm is prayed, you can almost imagine the curtain coming back down as mass is over.

Appreciate what you just participated in. You didn't have to be a lector, an extrodrinary minister or sing in the choir. You may not have even taken communion. Perhaps you aren't Catholic. Maybe you aren't in a state of grace and need to go to confession. Maybe you just are in a station in your life where, for whatever reason you cannot take communion. You can still participate. And what we particpiate is whoa so much more amazing than some church service where there is merely good music or preaching.

So, I expect all of you, next Sunday, to post on your Facebook about what an amazing experience you had at mass this weekend.


  1. I think a lot of the time the reason that protestants have a WOO HOO reaction is that their service is VASTLY different than Mass. This dichotomy of structures has an affect not only on our reaction to Mass v Service/Worship but other things as well.

    But I think you make some very important points about how we have to make Mass important to OURSELVES!

    Protestant service is a form of ENTERTAINMENT and EDUCATION; the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a time of Worship and Adoration, a small sliver of what Heaven should be like.

  2. I agree with Joe. I think what sing-and-shout services produce is an external excitement; what Mass produces is internal, deep, and personal. It does show, but in other ways: in the way we treat others, the way we look at the world, the way in which we turn to God. It is a WHOA, but of a very different nature.