Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Mass Appeals to Those Who Obey God

By Father Kevin M. Cusick

Ex-Catholics do not always go on only to affiliating with some other ecclesial organization.  Sometimes they also take up a “ministry” of proselytizing Catholics.  One such character who plies his trade on Facebook is John Farina and one of his techniques involves claiming that some Mass-attending Catholics are “secretly bored” and to whom he then offers to reach out with an offer of “help”.

An large ecclesial organization near my church In Maryland is heavily invested in entertainment, evidently in agreement with John that one of the capital sins in religious services is to risk the boredom of the congregants.  They offer meals, movies and other perks to keep people “interested” and active.

Catholics have just as much capacity for fun as anyone else, to include going to movies, having meals and visiting with each other.  Some do it so well that they are accused of taking it to excess.  But why do Catholics not place first priority upon entertainment in our religious services?  Why does the Catholic Mass, when viewed from a certain perspective, seem to knowingly leave worshipers at risk of boredom, relying as it does on repeated texts, music and other elements of the liturgy?

A look at Zechariah chapters 12 and 13 and the way his prophecies are fulfilled in the worship of the Mass as practiced by faithful Catholics can give us some insight.

“Thus says the LORD: I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and petition.”  First comes the work of the Spirit, for we cannot give what we do not have.  The Holy Spirit has been poured out upon the Church, beginning at Pentecost.  Worship of God, knowing and loving God must be done in the Spirit and when one does what the Church does one always does it in the Spirit, to include Sunday worship.  As well, the Scriptures teach that the Spirit is given to those who obey God.  When we obey the commandment to keep the Lord’s Day holy and do so together with the other baptized members of the Body of Christ at our local parish we are given the gift of God’s Spirit.

“  … and they shall look on him whom they have pierced”  You may have noticed that wherever the Mass is celebrated the crucifix is displayed.  That is, an image of the Lord on the Cross is given a place of prominence within the assembly.  When we proclaim God’s Word in Scripture together as His Church and approach His altar of sacrifice we remember that His self-giving is the source of our life.  As well, when the priest holds aloft the consecrated Host during the liturgy of the Eucharist within the Mass we also look on Him who we have pierced but who now lives, having risen from the tomb.  The Eucharistic Christ we behold in the hands of the priest is the Easter Christ, having conquered sin and eath and who offers us a share in His victory.  Christ Himself commanded that we celebrate the Mass as the memorial of His death until he comes.

“ … and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son, and they shall grieve over him as one grieves over a firstborn.”  Zechariah is quite right that the natural reaction to the death of a loved one is to mourn.  Grace builds on nature: when we approach His Cross in order to share in His resurrection we never do so without a measure of sorrow for the suffering the Lord had to endure for our sins.  Thus the Mass always ahs about it a measure of the solemn and the serious, making the idea of entertainment  somewhat ludicrous.  There was nothing entertaining about Calvary.

“On that day there shall be open to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
a fountain to purify from sin and uncleanness.”  Most wonderfully, the living Christ whom we really and truly receive in the Eucharist is that fountain, for it is from His pierced side as He hung upon the Cross that the living stream of Zechariah’s prophecy flows through the Church throughout history and into each of our lives.  Christ purifies from sin and uncleanness through the power of His mercy.  A sublime joy through which we “lift up our hearts” is the right and proper disposition for such a moment above all others and thus for the celebration of Holy Mass.

These reasons, just some of the many, are why we celebrate holy Mass above all on the Lord’s Day: “It is right and just.”

(Subscribe to public updates by Fr. Cusick on Facebook at Reverendo Padre-Kevin Michael Cusick or follow on Twitter at MCITL. Visit Meeting Christ in the Liturgy at mcitl.blogspot.com for teachings from the Catechism of the Catholic Church paired with the Scriptures of Holy Mass for every day of the week. Fr. Cusick blogs at APriestLife. blogspot.com and you can e- mail him at mcitl.blogspot.com@gmail.com.)

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