We were walking out of the door for mass last Sunday and I turned off the worship music to which I had been listening. The singers were on key and the words were truly meaningful in a way that reminded me of the Truth in which I have chosen to believe. It was a pleasant experience that put me in the perfect posture for mass. Ready for my amazing interior Sunday hour at church, I walked in with my worship face on. For the next hour, I was completely bored and unaffected. So much for my amazing mass. I walked out annoyed and critical.
Honestly, why is it so hard for parish leaders to understand that good song selections, good preaching and a little bit of enthusiasm can make or break a mass experience. I know that the mass is about the Eucharist but when most of the attendees don’t believe in the Eucharist, it would be nice to see a universal effort to make mass pleasing to the human experience while beautiful to the God we worship.
Is it every parish? Of course not. I have been to regular Sunday masses that have transcended my soul and brought me to tears but they are much rarer than they should be.
So, to all of those who were raised going to mass every Sunday and stopped, I am here to tell you that I get it. Just because I am a missionary doesn’t mean that I don’t see what you see or feel what you feel. Our world is so entertaining. With so much to do and experience, why should you waste your time walking into a sanctuary looks like it was excavated from the seventies and participating in a ritual that you may never have understood in the first place.
Because I love you, and because I love the mass. I would like to invite you back. I make no promises. On the outside, you might have the same experience as usual, but there is more here than meets the eye and that makes all the difference.
Here are four things to think about:
1. The ritual of the mass is the oldest form of Christian worship
In the year 155, St. Justin wrote a letter explaining Christian worship. In his description he states the following:
Christians gathered together on the day of the sun and began their worship by reading the memoirs and writings of the apostles. This was followed by a speech on the readings, prayers offered by the congregation, the kiss of peace, and the celebration communion. The presider prayed over the bread and wine in a prayer of thanksgiving (eucharistian) to which the congregation responded in agreeance (amen). The communion was then distributed.
Sound familiar? When we attend mass, we are worshipping God in the exact same way that Catholics around the world have for 2000 years. The saints of every generation worshipped in this way. When we go to mass, we truly are connected to the body of Christ that has existed in every generation.
2. There is more to the mass than what meets the eyes and ears.
If the mass is worship for God, who is spirit, then there must be spiritual happenings going on and they are more important than our physical experience.
The Church teaches that in the mass, we are literally transported spiritually to heaven during the celebration of the Eucharist. The entire body of Christ, all the saints, all the angels, and all of us on earth are joined together in worship. This means that the spiritual barrier is removed and we are all worshipping God together, as one! THAT’S AWESOME!
Even more, there is a mass happening around the world at every hour of the day which means that at every moment, somewhere In the world humanity is joining the communion of saints in total worship of the God of the universe. My friends, that’s incredible. The mass that can bore so many of us to tears is Literally lifting our spirits off of earth and into heaven.
3. The Eucharist is Real
This could be a whole other post but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Jesus Christ no only died for you but wants to be one with you. Catholicism’s most important teaching is that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. Jesus loves us so much that He literally wants to change us from the inside out and so He becomes one with us body and spirit. This is the fullness of the incarnation and it is available to us whenever we want.
4. If God allows himself to be worshipped in this way, then who are we to say we won’t worship Him in this way?
God Himself who is all perfect, all knowing and all powerful allows Himself to be worshipped by our puny attempts to praise His perfection. Even the most amazing worship service done most perfectly in the entire history of Christendom is not even close to the worship that God deserves and yet He accepts it. If He will accept all of the bad worship services around the world, then who am I to say that I am too good to go and be part of them. It’s prideful and it doesn’t make sense. The mere fact that I am allowed to worship God should have me worshipping Him.
After all, worship is meant to be a gift of myself to the Almighty whose ways are not my ways and whose thoughts are not my thoughts. The Christian God is good enough that He goes even further than that in order to become one with His people. I can not show up at a consumer, even if my annoyances are valid. In the presence of the God of the universe, and all His angels and saints, they shouldn’t even matter.