Catholic Mass: Can we get what is going on? Part 3

0717131542 This is Part 3 of our Blog Series on Can we “get” what is going on in Catholic Mass.    It is in reply to one who might say:  I don’t get anything out of Mass.

I think that this statement can be one’s honest appeal to God THAT they want to get something out of Mass and could the Lord please provide it?

I have written about what IS the Holy Mass and of the importance of one’s disposition in coming to Mass.

(If you are new to the Church or in investigating it or in returning to it from a long absence, I would refer you to join our RCIA class in the parish, which will give you a whole course on the Catholic Faith.  Ask about it if that is “you” that needs it.)

Someone wrote a Devotional Book a few years back.  It was called GOD CALLING.  A lot of people picked up that book and read it, because they sensed that God was calling, or could be calling them.  They wanted to pick up the line and communicate to Him.

We all really want a loving and true communication with God.

Indeed, all human persons are made to worship God.  God in Christ Jesus has given us this access of worship, as the Savior explained, “you shall worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24)” and He repeatedly spoke of “An Hour that was coming” for its possibility through Him (John 2:4, 4:23, 5:25).  At the Last Supper and at the Cross, Jesus then spoke of the Hour’s fulfillment, saying at last, at table “This is My Body… This is the Blood of the New Covenant.   Now do this in memory of Me…”   then, at Calvary… “It is consummated!  Into Your Hands (Father), I commend My Spirit.”   (John ch. 18 & 19)

At Holy Mass we stand at that place of encounter with God.

Let me repeat:  At Holy Mass we stand at THAT place of ENCOUNTER WITH GOD.   We join Jesus there in Mystery, where His Death and Resurrection changes things for humankind.

It’s the Mystery of Faith.  We pray “Save us, Savior of the world, for by Your Cross and Resurrection You have set us free.”

In Christ Jesus, by His Body and Blood Sacrifice touching us in Sacrament, we can then pray: Into Your Hands, O Lord, do I commend myself.      It is a movement from the Cross and Resurrection to our surrender to God’s will.   Grace calls us to favor in God.

We are ‘neath the Cross for forgiveness, while also ready to present ourselves to God for new lifeI, and pray with Jesus to The Father:  “Thy will be done now in Me.”

In that graced moment of encounter, transformation is possible.

As we Catholics teach about the Holy Mass, it is through right worship in the Sacred Liturgy that we receive transformation into the Lord.   We are transformed, as by partaking of the divine nature.  This is a real transformation.   As we go and do in Mass what Jesus’ Word asks from us (i.e. “Do this” Luke 22:19/  1 Cor. 11:23-27/ and  “offer yourselves to God” Rom. 6:13-16 / Rom. 12:1-8) we enter into the Pascal Mystery.  We are in the Mystery of Faith, as we say in Mass:  “We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until You come again.”   God meets us in that mystery, right at Mass.  It is Holy Action.  It is obedient response.   We proclaim.  We profess.   We humble ourselves.  We submit to God and look to be in His Presence together.  We sup with Him as people relying on His holiness to us, not on our own light.   His Sacrament is the focus, not our worthiness.  In fact we pray before Communion:  “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come… (but You called me, so)  only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

Healing.   Encounter.    God’s Favor.    Holy Action.   Mystery.    Can it be immediately seen and felt?  Not quite.    As St. Thomas wrote (and which people at Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament know as its prayer):  “What the senses fail to fathom, let us grasp through Faith’s consent.”   We have shortcomings on our human side of the equation; yet God has supplied us contact with Him in the manner of faith.   We have a means to respond and connect, in the soul, though we are so weak in our acknowledgement of this dynamic and real aspect of our selves.  Yet it is where transformation meets us.  In the realm of faith.   God works with matter and physicality (Sacrament), yet it does take faith to “grasp it all.”

Faith is fueling the transformation.

Thus, it is very important that people are coming to Mass in dynamic faith.  They need to be seeking God, yearning for His love fully, and denying the self that so still clings to sin and worldliness.   We give up the world and our “self” to get connection with God.  That’s Sacred Liturgy disposition.   What needs to be is that we want to “get Christ and His Lordship within us.”   To get Him and lose our sinful self-absorption.  (To “get” Him really means that we allow Him to “get” us.  This is what Jesus was getting at when He said:  ‘Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 16:25)

Right after He said this teaching, He led some apostles up the mountain for the Transfiguration.    It was no mere coincidence.   They were at this place of losing themselves to “get” Jesus, and they found transformative experience on that Week of Tabernacles with the Lord at Mt. Tabor.

Transformation will be realized fully at the end of our lives, we hope, when our practice of being with Christ faithfully (such as in Eucharist and also by Scripture in our worship) will have led us intimately into His Love. He will take us up into His Holy Tabernacle, His Dwelling Place.

Mass is “getting” together with Jesus in His Sacrament Visit, in showing the connection of Heaven and Earth in Him.   We pray “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts.  Heaven and Earth are full of Your Glory.  Hosanna in the Highest… Blessed is He Who Comes…. in the Name of the Lord…. Hosanna in the Highest!”) and if only we all could believe this better.  The Lord of Hosts Comes to us!  Blessed is He Who Comes!!  We call on His Name, in the Mass He gave to us, and there is encounter available.

Encounter meant to lead to transformation.

It is why Jesus says “Abide (remain) in Me” so passionately to us in this same Gospel of John (ch. 15). Because we are experiencing the Lord by degrees, we can truly call our faith life a pilgrimage.   A pilgrimage in The Body and Blood of Christ brings forth the longed-for transformation. . By degrees is the Kingdom of God happening in us so to the measure of how we are participating actively in the vital opportunities afforded to us to bond with Him.  How more so than in the Sacred Liturgy? In all our many appointments with Jesus in the Masses of our life, do we realize that they are truly remarkable times with Him, just like those ones that the apostles and disciples had with the Jesus of Galilee?!

As a liturgy expert puts it:  “United to the mystical body of Christ, which is the Church, we are shining with the divine light of His Transfiguration, and are part of his sanctifying presence on earth. To the degree that we conform, the grace with which we do anything, mundane or sacred, radiates the beauty of God and calls people to it, and then beyond to the source of that Beauty.”

He explains it further:  “Sacred liturgy is the worship of the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit, and this is how we love God most profoundly. It is the purpose of life – the summit to which our lives point – and the most powerful source of grace that will help us to get there…  Holy Mass is a school of love that perfects our social relations and our family life and by this society as a whole. “

Indeed, it  is our regular meeting and supping relationship with Christ Jesus, where we come hungry for the love and grace of God to fill our lives, so much as to pour forth in goodness to our relationship with others.    This school of love is meant to teach our mind and hearts that Christ is now with us, that the Incarnation (God’s indwelling) is meant to capture us  and spread to many others.  The liturgist calls this faith reality as an “intelligence of the heart,” that is, a knowing of things in the fullest way, in love, in Christ.   If we could understand that it really is Christ Who is present to give us wisdom, lead us in strength, and to stimulate us to be moved into the ways of the Kingdom.

To experience the fruits of Sacred Liturgy, we are not to reduce it to mere rituals and hocus-pocus words.   We also cannot skip to the blessing part of encounter with God, and forget the sacrifice and cost on our part.  If the Savior had a cost to win us, then there will be a cost for us.  Before we get on to the benefits of the liturgy and what we want from it, we have better just “bow down and worship the Lord and put all else aside (Psalm 95:6).  For the Church worldwide, our goal is to offer God what is pleasing to Him, and make no demands, as we are but His servants.  As Psalm 96:7-10 teaches us about worship, the Psalmist pleads “Give to the Lord, you families of nations, give to the Lord glory and might…glory due to His Name!  Bring gifts and enter His courts, bow down to the Lord, (Who is) Splendid in Holiness… Tremble before God, all the earth, say among the nations, God is King!”.

So, we don’t come looking to “get” as in our demands and conditions before God, but we look to be “gotten.”

Perhaps that is the answer to the starting question of this blog:  How can you “get” something out of Mass?  Perhaps you instead shoud look to be “gotten.”   Say, Lord, Here I Am.   I am yours.  Can we begin there?



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