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The Purpose of Mass

Fr. Z points us to this letter by Fr. Greg J. Markey in Norwalk, CT. (I’ve linked to Fr. Markey’s site but I think this letter may be replaced on a weekly basis so you may need to find it at Fr. Z’s site.) There is so much good stuff in this letter that it is hard to pick out just one passage with which to entice you. Try this one:

Yet how many Catholics truly understand what the Mass is: the re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Christ’s crucifixion to God the Father? (Catechism #1367) Some people are still coming to Sunday Mass expecting liturgical abuses or to be entertained by the priest, rather than the real reason we come – to worship God, offering this perfect sacrifice according to the means handed down to us by Mother Church.
If only more people understood that novelties and priestly creativity in the Mass take away from this transcendent reality, and suddenly the sacred act is profaned, taking on the mere personality of the priest. No! As Padre Pio says, at Mass we are to humbly pray like St. John and Our Lady at the foot of the cross. Would that more people’s comments to me about the Mass reflected this understanding.

What exactly does paragraph 1367 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church say?

1367 The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice. “The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different.” “And since in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and offered in an unbloody manner…this sacrifice is truly propitiatory.” [Council of Trent(1562) Doctrina de ss. Missae sacrificio, c. 2:DS 1743]

So you see the Mass is not about us. It is not about entertaining us or giving us a warm fuzzy feeling. It is not about fellowship and making friends. Entertainment, warm fuzzy feelings, fellowship, and friends are wonderful things. But, the sacrifice of the Mass is about worshiping God in the most perfect form of worship we have—The Holy Eucharist. The Mass occurs with or without us in the pews. We come to assist in this worship. Our role during Mass is to give. We are made more ready to give by examining our consciences and repenting of our sins. We are better prepared to give as we are nurtured by The Word. But in the end, our purpose for being at Mass is to give our humble prayers of thanksgiving, praise, sorrow, and supplication to Almighty God.

Here is a little experiment. Instead of speaking of attending Mass, try talking about assisting at Mass. This is a subtle way to communicate the self-giving purpose of being present at Mass.


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