Celebrating Mass together is the most important activity we do in our lives, and yet it is the most misunderstood and under-appreciated. From the moment we wake up we have a list of things that fill our calendars and day planners, leaving the Mass barely surviving on Sunday mornings. When we finally get there, we are burdened with thoughts of all the activities and responsibilities waiting for us outside the Church doors. Yet sitting together with those next to us, we are called to be the Church, the body of Christ. Not one meeting, not one ballgame comes close to what we do as we gather as God’s people at Mass.
To quote Dr. Scott Hahn from his book, The Lamb’s Supper, the Mass as Heaven on Earth,”
To go to Mass is to go to heaven, where “God Himself…will wipe away every tear” (Rev 21:3-4). Yet heaven is even more than that. Heaven is where we place ourselves under judgment, where we see ourselves in the clear morning light of eternal day…Mass is a Prayer
To go to Mass is to renew our covenant with God, as at a marriage feast – for the Mass is the marriage supper of the Lamb. As in a marriage, we take vows, we pledge ourselves, we assume a new identity. We are changed forever.
To go to Mass is to receive the fullness of grace, the very lift of the Trinity. No power in heaven or on earth can give us more than we receive in the Mass, for we receive God into ourselves.”
The Mass is a prayer in itself not just the priest standing up at the altar praying, we are praying as well with our bodies, minds, and hearts. It is truly a gift of us in prayer offered in the Mass. Not only are we bringing our time, talent (the choir, ushers, Eucharistic ministers, lectors), and tithing, we bring our troubles, sins, and thanksgiving to the altar. So we must be prepared for this time.
Preparation is key and there are some small things families and individuals can do to accomplish this. Nearly everything we do needs some kind of preparation, attending Mass is no different. Each day the readings are different with a different message. For this reason alone preparation is key for full participation to be possible, and it’s easier than ever with online information available in every form from email alerts, to iPhone apps, we have the readings at our fingertips. Even those not online can find the readings in magazines; a couple of offerings are “The Word Among Us” and “Magnificat”. Not only do these monthly periodicals provide the readings for each day, they also contain meditations, lives of saints, and prayers to use as added spirituality growth.
Attending Mass with a little advanced preparation can avoid being distracted. A distracted person can be distracting in itself.
It is a celebration, not a Play
As mentioned in the beginning of this article, the Mass is the most important activity we do in our lives, and it is a celebration bringing all the angels and saints, Church fathers, martyrs and the Blessed Trinity together with us for this celebration. It is hard to believe that this actually happens that all the blessed join us in reality, so we need to have the grace of faith to embrace this aspect of the Mass celebration. We are not alone during this time hence we are closest to heaven than any other time in our earthly lives. The Mass order is the same each time and where ever one attends. This doesn’t change, only the readings change and the message. The Mass is called a Celebration and the priest is called the celebrant and we are co-celebrants in the Mass. Christ instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper during the celebration of Passover,
Mass manners are imperative for all and for a renewed appreciation of this sacrificial celebration. This column will discuss the many aspects of how manners can help with the appreciation and respect the Mass deserves with tips on how small changes can make a big difference along the way.
See you at Mass!