By William Hartono
Why should one go to mass? Because it fulfills the very essence of what it means to be human – communion with God. Go to the Mass to be captivated by Love, to be enamoured by the Paschal sacrifice, to fall into the arms of the One who moulded you in your mother’s womb.
Fundamentally, the Mass is a universal experience – meant for all. Celebrated by the ordained priest, who stands in persona Christi, we are drawn into the mystical body of Christ and united with the saints in heaven as well as the souls in purgatory. It is truly as Saint John Paul the Great calls it, a cosmic experience – one that transcends the bounds of space and time. In the Mass, we are re-presented with the sacrifice of Calvary in which Christ gave of Himself for all of mankind, restoring us to the Father.
While the Mass is indeed an immensely theologically dense experience, no amount of intellect or reason would ever allow us to fully penetrate the depths of the mystery of the Mass. And that is perhaps where all are best poised to fall in love with the sacrament par excellence.
For the non-believer, the Mass may be foreign, but it is undoubtedly also intriguing. It could very well be this fascination that leads one to know God more and more. Tangibly, this is achieved through the Liturgy of the Word where one receives the Word of God in Sacred Scripture. Thereafter, the priest, would preach a homily which allows one to better understand the Scriptures. In this moment, while our corporeal senses lead us to believe that the priest is the one speaking, it is in fact Christ Himself who speaks to us through His priest. And as the congregation proceeds into the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we learn about Christianity on a deeper level. Fr Cantalamessa writes “[t]he Eucharist is coextensive with the history of salvation… just as on a clear morning the whole sky is reflected in a dewdrop on a bush, so the Eucharist reflects the whole of the history of salvation”.
For practising Catholics, the Mass allows for direct access to God Himself when we receive Him in Holy Communion. In the perfect prayer the Lord left us with, we pray “give us this day our daily bread”, pointing back to the Manna which Moses fed the Israelites with. Yet, it attains its fulfilment in something greater – the Eucharist, the true Bread of Life. While the manna provided physical nourishment, the Eucharist provides spiritual nourishment. In fact, the line “give us this day our daily bread” challenges all to go to the sacrament every single day, and to allow for it to become our daily bread. Ecclesia de Eucharista! The Church draws Her life from the Eucharist. As Catholics, we go to the Mass when we are lost, when we are searching for peace, when we no longer know how else to pray… and the list goes on. But in the Mass all of this fades away when we come face to face with our Lord and our God, sharing the same experience as that of the Apostle Thomas – we too place our hands on the Risen Lord’s wounds when we receive Him sacramentally. And thus we are also given the privilege to profess our faith in Him once again.
Lastly, the Mass portends and stretches forth towards something greater. While we hear “blessed are those called to the Supper of the Lamb”, we pray in anticipation of the eternal banquet feast that awaits us in heaven. We are filled with a divine hope for something greater. Hopefully this article has managed to spark some interest in the Mass but nothing comes close to participating in it yourself. Nonetheless, tread carefully, for Christ has been waiting for you in the sacrament for over 2,000 years. Perhaps it is time to stop keeping Him waiting and to fall into His loving embrace. You won’t regret it.
a. Project Taste & See Round 1 – A Guide to the Mass