1. The Mass of All Ages - Before I really understood what was going on during the Eucharist celebration, I thought Mass was boring. It was only after I took time to learn about the different parts of the Mass, did I realize the immense beauty of how the Mass unfolds according to a fundamental structure which has been preserved throughout the centuries to us today, in every language and culture (CCC 1345). When we pray the Mass today, we participate in an act of worship that can be traced back to the first Christians - and prayed all over the world.
2. Witness to the World - Week after week, I am moved by the sight of people gathering at church in the name of Jesus Christ. To be sure, we gather as believers during a time when non-belief in God is the default position. Young and old, sick and healthy, from all walks of life - we gather on Sundays as a sign to the world that Jesus Christ reigns as king of heaven and earth.
3. A Great Equalizer - At the beginning of Mass, we acknowledge our brokenness before God during the penitential rite. I am always struck by this part of the Mass, when we all become beggars before the Lord, seeking mercy and forgiveness - no matter our differing levels of moral excellence. Our humble posture before God draws my attention to His amazing love. But in addition, I am also aware of my connection with everyone in the church building. We gather as brothers and sisters in Christ, with God as our “Abba”. Our dignity as children of God is all that matters at Mass. Money, power, good looks, popularity, intellect and skill will not advance our standing with God. Only through Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit, do we become one body, “the Body of Christ”(Cor 12:12-14), united and sanctified by the grace of God.
4. Quality Time with God - Set aside time to attend and pray the Mass weekly is a priority for me, not because God commands it, rather because I need it. Life is very busy, and though I take time throughout the day to pray and share my life with God, these moments can’t replace what happens at Mass. The Mass offers me an uninterrupted time to worship God with my whole body through quiet and vocal prayer, different physical postures, and with my five senses. Most importantly, when I receive the Eucharist at Mass, God dwells within me, and makes a home in my heart (John 6:56-57). Great joy and peace result from this encounter, and makes me yearn for the next time I can pray the Mass.
5. Who doesn’t like a great mystery? The Mass invites me into a great, beautiful mystery that unfolds through physical things, objects, activities and rituals that put us in contact with God. To be sure, by faith, we enter into the Eucharistic celebration trusting that Jesus Christ conquered sin and death, and that by his redemptive work, we are worthy to unite ourselves to His sacrifice to the Father. By entering into this mystery of salvation, we are drawn ever deeper into the implications of the mystery of divine love in our lives, and how God’s love seeks to permeate every part of our being, so that our life becomes God’s work. This is deep stuff, and although we’ll never fully fathom the mystery of divine love, the Mass is an invitation for me to explore God’s plan of salvation and my part in it.
6. Next best thing to time travel! It is true that the Mass is a memorial of the Lord’s passion and Resurrection, but what happens during the liturgy goes way beyond remembering. Jesus becomes both high priest and victim as his perfect and eternal sacrifice on the Cross of Calvary is re-presented in an unbloodied way to God (here and now) with the Church’s offering (us!) (CCC 1364). It’s not that Jesus is put to death again, rather because Christ is risen, his offering breaks through the walls of mortal time. By the virtue of our baptism, we are able participate in Christ’s offering, and with him, we unite our whole lives (praise, sufferings, prayer and work) to His offering. Also joined to Christ’s offering are Mary and the communion of saints, as well as the faithful departed from all ages. What is even more mind-blowing is that in our earthy liturgy, we also share in a foretaste of the Heavenly liturgy (CCC 1367-1371). All of this - in about an hour! Wow!
7. Privileged place of encounter with Jesus Christ - During Mass, we meet Jesus in both scriptures (Word and Spirit) and the Eucharist. The readings from the Old Testament point to Jesus while the readings of the New Testament, especially the Gospels, invite us into friendship with him. Our friendship with Christ is deepened even more when we receive the Eucharist in holy communion (John 6:56). St. Augustine once said “If we receive the Eucharist worthily, we become what we receive.” To be sure, life in Christ has it’s foundation in the Eucharist.
8. Privileged place of communion with each other - Reception of the Holy Eucharist not only unites us to Christ, but also with one another. (1 For 10:16-17). The faithful become one body in Christ and we become Church when we partake in holy communion. As the mystical Body of Christ, we are called to prolong Christ’s presence in this world through our own lives - with acts of justice, compassion, peace and love.
9. Source of Grace - At the center of the Mass is the Eucharist, Jesus’ real presence. The Son’s perfect and eternal offering to the Father is united with our imperfect offering, and the flood gates of grace are opened up! Heaven touches upon earth and God sustains his people with his own divine life (John 6:35, 48). Very clever! In His loving plan of salvation, God provides himself as spiritual sustenance for our pilgrimage on earth. What is more is that the Eucharist strengthens our charity, increases and renews the life of grace we received at baptism, cleanses us from past venial sins, preserves us from future mortal sins, makes us more committed to the poor, and unites us to all Christians (CCC 1391-1401).
10. Jesus tells me to. "Do this in memory of me" (Luke 22:19; Cor 11:24-25) I attend and pray the Mass weekly with a heart of gratitude and praise. The good news of Jesus Christ speaks truth to my depths of my being , and my response is faith. I believe in Jesus’ words and trust in his promises. If Jesus calls me to gather with other believers to offer thanksgiving, to remember and renew His sacrificial offering to the Father, and be in His presence, I will gladly obey.
By Eileen Klapprodt, Parishioner at The Christ Initiative