I never wanted to go to Mass when I was a kid. I’m a cradle Catholic, and my parents always made me go. I would just plead with them, “Come one, I can just pray at home, that is so boring.” And honestly that’s the childish attitude I had, in varying degrees of maturity and with a few expections, for my whole life until the middle of last year. I really liked the singing part; that’s what I’m in to, but the rest of it wasn’t too exciting and was pretty easy to ignore. It wasn’t too hard for me, even as a person of faith, to block out the “boring parts” of Mass.
And then I met a few people who were really excited about Mass. These kids in my Bible Study were going to Mass, and not even on Sundays. What? When there wasn’t even a sweet choir to distract them? Wow, these kids were paying attention to the Eucharist, and they loved it. I remember seeing this smile crack across this guy Brian’s face when talking about loving the Eucharist, and thinking, “Is he insane? Holy Jesus freak, batman!” But I started thinking there might be something to it.
And so I started cracking open the liturgy this year, with lots of help and inspiration from people like the liturgy team…In my head, I’m going…so what does the priest mean at this point? What is actually going on here? In these words that I’ve heard hundreds upon hundreds of times before, what is actually being said? And man, I can never look at it the same again. I’m enraptured now. I understand it to be, like the Church says, the purest worship I can do. I know we don’t just do it because we always do it that way-we do it because its the best way to do it. We don’t just sing with a sweet sounding choir, we sing with the saints and angels in heaven.
Now, honestly I walk out of Mass every Sunday, and some other days too, usually beaming. It’s because I leave with this knowledge; that I am a living sanctuary of Christ’s true presence on the earth. That God has rained down his grace upon me abundantly. That I have grown in discipline to become a better follower of Christ. And I think about it-all those years, I managed to sit there so obtusely while God consistently showered me with his grace, while he opened to me the most beautiful form of praise and thanks and help, all while I had no idea.
One last thing, an important point, is that how I feel about Mass is still changing. Just look around St. Paul’s, and everywhere there’s people with this great, admirable devotion. I’m not there yet, even after opening my eyes a bit to the Mass. There’s still more to come, and I hope there always will be.
Being born in a Catholic family, one thing that we did every Sunday was head to the nearby parish to attend Mass. For me personally, there was nothing terribly exciting about it. Like many of my friends, I had wished for more exciting services, especially things that would cater to people of my age. After all, wouldn’t God want people to be excited to go and worship Him?
This kind of thought process stayed with me as I came to college here at the UW, wishing for more exciting celebration of the liturgy. In retrospect, I can see how this desire of mine reflected a tinge of selfishness within me. Rather than focusing on the actual beauty that is taking place in the Mass, and the heavenly worship of God that is there, I was instead focusing on what I wanted to see.
During my phase of questioning the Mass, I began to do some research and look up the different parts of it. In doing this, I began to really see and appreciate the great tradition that can be found there, and I then saw the bigger picture. Yes, the Mass is a place where I, myself come into connection with Christ, but it also includes the entire history of salvation. The Liturgy is a celebration that transcends both time and space. I found out that by participating in the Mass, I am joining with all the saints and the angels throughout history in the worship of God. Most importantly, though, we take part in a celebration that Jesus himself commands us to do, when he says to “do this in memory of me.”
This is not to say that every time I go to Mass it is the most exciting part of my day. Far from it. However, I realize now, that that is not the point. The point is to share in a divinely-inspired tradition that is so much greater than I, and it is actually I that should be catering myself to be more participative in the Mass.