We continue our reflections on the definition of the Eucharistic Liturgy. What follows is a re-presentation of the passage from the General Instruction:
16. The celebration of Mass, as the action of Christ and of the People of God arrayed hierarchically, is the center of the whole of Christian life for the Church both universal and local, as well as for each of the faithful individually. For in it is found the high point both of the action by which God sanctifies the world in Christ and of the worship that the human race offers to the Father, adoring him through Christ, the Son of God, in the Holy Spirit. In it, moreover, during the course of the year, the mysteries of redemption are celebrated so as to be in some way made present. As to the other sacred actions and all the activities of the Christian life, these are bound up with it, flow from it, and are ordered to it.
-“during the course of the year, the mysteries of redemption are celebrated”
Through the entire year, the mysteries of Christ’s life is celebrated, from His Annunciation to the Ascension. Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time, Lent, Easter. Jesus’ entire life and ministry is re-presented every single year. We celebrate the day he was born, certain milestones in his life, and his friends and family that are especially close to him.
This is hardly new. We look forward to Christmas every year, right? We are invited to insert ourselves into that life. Seeing how Jesus sees, listening as Jesus listens, showing compassion as He had done.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI mentions that the liturgy allows the believer to encounter Christ. On September 3, 2008, he said, “We are only Christians if we encounter Christ, even if He does not reveal Himself to us as clearly and irresistibly as he did to Paul in making him the Apostle of the Gentiles. We can also encounter Christ in reading Holy Scripture, in prayer, and in the liturgical life of the Church – touch Christ’s heart and feel that Christ touches ours. And it is only in this personal relationship with Christ, in this meeting with the Risen One, that we are truly Christian.”
When was the last time Mass was an encounter with Jesus Christ? Do we do to Mass in order to meet the Lord in an intimate way?
I remember when I was going through studies, there was an event that involved all three Catholic schools. Before the closing prayer, we were told that someone was going to preach. The Dominicans settled in, wondering how the person was going to do.
It was fantastic. It was a very nice reflection.
Yet there was one thing missing. Not once was “Jesus Christ” or “God” or “Spirit” mentioned. Not once did the preacher evoke the name of God. Not once was the congregation challenged to engage God. There was no invitation of encountering the divine.
This preacher isn’t alone. I’ve visited a number of parishes…and there are many parishes in which Jesus has become “He Who Must Not Be Named”.
When was the last time a person came to Mass to encounter God? I know that this sounds like an odd question. But think about it. So many people leave Catholicism—let alone religion—because they don’t know why they came to Mass. They have not an intimate relationship with God. They have no prayer life whatsoever. They have no relationships with the people that surround them every Sunday.
If a person is not at Mass celebrating God’s love for him or her, and deepening his or her relationship with Jesus—it’s no wonder people would leave the Church.
Yet during the course of the year, we gather as a community to celebrate the life, passion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. We celebrate, as a community, the love God has shown us. When the priest or deacon dismisses us, we are dared to share that love with the world. “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.”
On an annual basis, the Church presents us the entirety of Jesus’ presence through the Eucharistic Liturgy. We are called to live that liturgy in the here and now, in the streets, workplaces, on the BART and everywhere in between. …God help us.
We are going to move on from this definition and head onto other exciting things about our tradition. Thanks for your time.
God bless you! Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!