SOME FINAL ADDED THINGS ON CATHOLIC WORSHIP IN MASS
Can we Catholics “get” what is going on in the Holy Mass? Why do we do Mass the way we do? In this age of flickering images, sound effects, comfort and treats, instant gratification, big productions and “loud” people– we could put on a show of Christianity!
As I heard once said, of why we don’t do that as Catholics: It’s because Christianity isn’t Lord. Jesus is Lord. We are not worshipping God as in “Hey,look at us!” God is rather asking: “Please, look to Me and listen to Me and heed, if you will live.” We come, thus, and worship Him. Yes, we can come in singing and with gladness and love, and community is important to a parish too. Still–our main focus is to gather for Word and Sacrament–we come to encounter The Lord Himself. It is HIS Mass. It is Holy because HE IS THERE. It is fitting to do because the SAVIOR HIMSELF ESTABLISHED IT.
We pray in this way and assembled manner, and will do so until the Lord’s Second Coming, because it has been so since the Church’s start. In 1st Corinthians 11:23-29, St. Paul gives us this instruction on the Mass. “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”
I especially highlight how the Holy Mass is meant to go through time in the verse: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
We also take seriously the Word of God which says to eat the Eucharist or consume the Precious Blood not “in an unworthy manner,” and upon an examination of conscience (which may call for the Reconciliation Sacrament to be exercised by us). Do you think those two points from the St. Paul’s parish in Corinth are followed well in Bowie parishes?
Sacred Liturgy is all about how God is to be served as is fitting to Him. God has shown to us in certain ways of how He would like to be worshipped and what we are to believe and hold to as His children. The Catholic Church keeps that revelation in mind. We hold to traditions because we are One Church, in One Faith and Baptism in Christ. We also hold to traditions because we call the last 2000 years of Catholics/ Christians are fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. It is one family, and it is global and historical. It lives to be under Christ Jesus in that unity.
We are much about orthodoxy and fidelity, as well as faith and family and marriage, as well as dedicated single life and vocations. We are about respect for life from womb to the tomb. Our attention is on service of God. We orient ourselves for respecting God in His Holy Temple, and we keep the Lord in tabernacle in the church, too, by Sacrament. We also bow down to the Lord to be tabernacled by His Body and Blood. This is important in our worship.
If one misses the fact that Catholics gather to truly experience Jesus in the Mass, or they attend a Mass but not recognize the deference to the One Who is in their midst in the Sacred Liturgy, then one could altogether not understand at all what was taking place there in that Catholic church. The attention is on His arrival (or maybe said: our arrival to His Presence.) The Mass is about union with Jesus Christ, building on our baptismal relationship in Him as born anew to live by grace.
In speaking on the differences of Catholic Mass to an independent Christian church’s praise and worship service (which are increasing in popularity), these words were written down as a compilation of some Catholics who wish to confess their love of Holy Mass and say why:
We don’t first come to church for the feel good benefits bestowed on me. We come to bless the Lord, and do so with others of Jesus’ friends, and Jesus gathers us and we offer up His One Pleasing Sacrifice of Himself to the Father, as the Spirit comes in the church for the encounter of the Son’s Body and Blood. It is a Trinitarian worship. All Three Divine Persons are with us. We come as children of the Father, and pray to Him, and we give ourselves as won by Christ, to Him, even embodied in the Lord, as Jesus unites us to Himself (for we are not worthy alone). At mid-Mass, we present ourselves as gifts to the Lord at His altar. If there is a feel good moment at Mass, it is here, for one can know they truly join into Jesus, in the Mass. We are sinners, but He is holy. We are reborn in the Spirit, but still need so much to be led by Him into Jesus’ righteousness. When the Spirit comes down upon the gifts, He comes down on us, for we are offered at the parish altar too. We also bring some gifts for His Church or the poor or some other needs, in the collection, as we witness to God at each Sunday Mass that we are His servants. All we have is His. We can part with a sacrificial gift to Him, for it shows our thanksgiving and our priorities, that He is First. It is part of our offering of self. The main thing is we offer ourselves. We are not worthy to receive back from the Lord, and so we each say the prayer at Mass of that confession (Lord Have Mercy…Lamb of God, have mercy on us…. Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof…) yet God offers me the best Gift everytime I could ever desire in the Sacrament of His Son. O “say the Word and my soul shall be healed.” It is gracious for God to bless us in His house, with our brothers and sisters in Christ. # # #
Do you have that above Catholic Faith? It is something to aim for.
As I compare some of these megachurches and independent and “new” churches to our Catholic ones, I have found some stark differences between us. I have seen it first-hand sometimes. I visited a church near a Christmas time and they even charged a high admission price to get in for a December service(because of their putting on a show). I’d say that they had something they wanted to “get” from that church gathering— hype, hipness, new members, and money. It did not seem to me to glorify and worship Jesus (though maybe it entertained Him?!). The whole experience made me worried for those Christians.
A Catholic Bishop commented on such things going on as “church” in America now, and he commented that, in the end, these kind of above-mentioned services are doing harm to the Christian Church. He explained why: ‘Liturgy is not meant first for this kind of evangelization or attention-making, for our direction is praise of God, not man. Worship may bring sweet fruits from it, but we are focused on giving unto Him, not producing an effect from Him. We are not fruit making, but worshipping the Lord in how He has asked us, and we shall get fruits because of good liturgy and faith, not as a mechanism to produce it ourselves.’
What of their experience in that megachurch? If “benefits” and feel good effects really were the primary goal of that worship service, supplanting the submissive praise of God as their purpose, then they might have to come to some renewal in worship, for the said-approach can do the liturgy/worship time much harm, and make the fruits from it hard to realize. Soon, people will either feel “off” in the church prayers or they might fall into a lots of self-centeredness in the Christian feeling but not necessarily be pleasing to the Lord (no matter how loud the songs or singing gets). In Rock concerts like with Paul McCartney Band in DC last weekend, it is ok for everyone to just get lost in the emotions and their love of music and a crowd gathered. It’s a show. Yet some megachurch (and much smaller ones) have turned to showy productions and called it “church.” It is designed to attract and please the senses. I just can’t see that as happy with the Sermon on the Mount with Jesus (now featuring two music acts and large screens and many t-shirts for sale)!
I suppose there is a temptation to always wonder what you are going to “get” out of something. Our lives are busy but feeling more empty and unfulfilled— and we have hurts and needs (and wants) that have a hunger that wants its gratification in a selfish age— and we deal so much with surface appearances and hyped, sense-appeal things and being serviced and pleased by others THAT Church could become something that we brought such expectations to “get something from.” Yet it is the wrong approach. We should be glad that God even wants to gather us and love us and feed us, seeing what the human race right now has been sadly capable of doing (in the negative). We ought to be coming humbly and in repentance and looking to serve others in the church, not to be served.
In this series of blogs, we have wondered about church. I have encouraged you (and myself) to try to rather not look to consume from the Church but to present yourself as an offering to the Lord and His Church through her Holy Mass. If we would want to “get” something–let us want to “get” Jesus better, and to “get” what His liturgy has been all about for His people and what makes it so beautiful for Him.
We Catholics should value that we have Jesus’ Sacramental Presence and High Priest Presence in our Masses. “Blessed is He Who comes!”
Jesus loves presenting us to the Father through the Mass. Jesus the Son loves how the Holy Spirit comes to bring the miracle to our Masses in the Eucharist and gives inspiration and direction from the proclaimed Word and the community’s prayer. Jesus loves imparting His holiness to us.
These are the wonders that we share in the Catholic Mass. No wonder the past three popes have strived so much to have the faithful to understand better and to love what we have in it. They have called us to be faithful in praying the Mass and to come and give with full hearts to the Lord all He is due. If millions pray the Mass in the worldwide Church each week, and they do so with devotion and love, then we can be glad what The Lord is getting from us.
The Lord is the One Who should always be the focus of Who will “get something” out of the parish’s Mass.
That is what is needed.