Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Mass - Where Heaven and Earth Come Together

"The Eucharist is "the source and summit of the Christian life."

"The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch."

"The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God's action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit."

Finally, by the Eucharistic celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all.

In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: "Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking." The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1322-1327)

If Jesus is the reason we exist then it stands to reason that the Mass and the Eucharist has to be the central focus of our existence. Yet we find that this is not the case for many Catholics, particularly the young Catholics. It is my contention that there are several reasons for this: a) poor catechesis - a loss of the Sacredness of the Eucharist and the True Presence. There was for a time religious educators and even some priests who were suggesting that the Real Presence was secondary to the "unity of the faithful in worship." This was evidenced by polling Catholics of which the majority did not believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. b) the trend of building drab, modern "Protestant-like" Churches devoid of art and statues. If a church is to be the temple "where we are united in the heavenly liturgy" then it is logical that it be a special place that lifts the heart & mind towards heaven. If Jesus Christ the Savior of the world is present: Body, Blood, Soul & Divinity, then Heaven is present on earth. This is not the mundane or banal of every day life that is demonstrated in the plain, ordinary buildings that many worship in. c) liturgical abuses - this ranges from the absurd such as liturgical dancers to priests that change the words of prayers and scripture readings to bad music, not only the songs, but the melodies and singers themselves. Music in most churches today is an attempt to imitate secular music, it is not beautiful and uplifting. d) poor preaching and lack of good instruction by priests. A good homily that ties the just heard scripture readings to the Catholicity of our of our universe can inspire remind us why we are there.

In Sacrementum Caritas Pope Benedict XVI writes

This relationship between creed and worship is evidenced in a particular way by the rich theological and liturgical category of beauty. Like the rest of Christian Revelation, the liturgy is inherently linked to beauty: it is veritatis splendor. The liturgy is a radiant expression of the paschal mystery, in which Christ draws us to himself and calls us to communion. As Saint Bonaventure would say, in Jesus we contemplate beauty and splendour at their source. (106) This is no mere aestheticism, but the concrete way in which the truth of God's love in Christ encounters us, attracts us and delights us, enabling us to emerge from ourselves and drawing us towards our true vocation, which is love. (107) God allows himself to be glimpsed first in creation, in the beauty and harmony of the cosmos (cf. Wis 13:5; Rom 1:19- 20).

When we reduce the liturgy to the ordinary, strip the churches of their beauty, replace sacred music with ugly pop music, make the priority of the Mass out to be the "gathering" instead of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, fail to instruct and inspire the people, the results are the Mass is nothing special and the main focus will become "when does this end so I can get on with more important things", thus the people glance at their watches repeatedly waiting for the one hour to come.

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