When I was in the initial stages of studying the Catholic faith a close Protestant friend said to me, I just don’t get it. That dead old liturgy. It’s meaningless.
She’s not alone.
There are plenty of people (Catholics, ex-Catholics and Protestants alike) who don’t get it. They think the liturgy of the Mass is dead and out-dated. Many Catholics have left the Church in search of worship that feels good, is more simple and some claim more Biblical.
The interesting thing is, few, if any, who leave the Church ever study the parts of the Mass in an effort to understand the significance of the traditions or the Biblical basis for the liturgy. Instead many (not all) have simply labeled what they don’t understand as meaningless. And that which doesn’t appeal to their feelings or personal preferences is deemed out-dated and irrelevant.
On some level I can’t blame them.
If you were brought up Catholic and no one (starting with your parents) ever taught you the meaning of the Mass then how could you engage and grow in your relationship with Jesus. Of course it’s more than just being taught. If the other six days of the week your parents didn’t live in the grace, love and the life of Jesus received in the Eucharist at Mass on Sunday then it’s likely it would have little to no meaning for you at all. It might just seem like an empty meaningless ritual.
But just because someone never learned or their parents never “lived the Mass” doesn’t mean it’s meaningless. It just means they probably never experienced the depth of the love, grace and purpose of the Mass.
And just because a Protestant visits a Mass and doesn’t “get it,” it doesn’t mean there’s nothing to get. It just means they don’t know and understand the Mass. And how could they? They weren’t raised Catholic.
So, in an effort to shed light on what it is we Catholics do in Mass and why, I thought I’d write a little about it based on my own studies and my own personal experience.
The first thing you may be wondering…
Why does the Church place such an emphasis on the Mass?
Answer: The Mass is the highest form of prayer for Catholics.
Why? You ask.
The simple answer…
The Holy Eucharist, which is central to the celebration of the Mass, is the source and summit of our Catholic faith. The Eucharist being of course, Jesus–His Body and Blood, which is given to us as a means of grace and spiritual life through Holy Communion. Consequently, there is no liturgy more powerful or meaningful for Catholics than the Mass.
I know the Eucharist will require much more attention and explanation than that. However, for now, I’ll have to let that simple answer stand.
If you’re one of those who “just doesn’t get it” come back and visit again. I’ll do my best to explain just why the Mass is not a meaningless, out-dated-ritual but instead the most Christ-centered form of worship I’ve ever known.
More to come in future posts…