My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
May the Peace of the Risen Christ be with you!
As Catholics we believe that the Mass is the greatest prayer we can offer. In fact, the word “Eucharist” means thanksgiving. So we can say the Mass is the greatest prayer of thanksgiving that we can offer. We also believe that the Eucharist is the very core of what we believe as Catholics. Remember that the Mass is a community prayer and not a private prayer, nor is it the priest’s Mass in which you are allowed to participate. The Mass is not a memorial of the Last Supper, it is a participation in the Last Supper! During the Mass, Jesus actually speaks to us in the readings and the homily of the Mass; it is Jesus who takes our offerings of bread and wine and changes them into His Own Body and Blood of which He invites us to eat and drink. We can also say that when Mass is celebrated, it is the entire Church who is praying together.
Let me digress a moment to remind you that without the ordained priest there would be no Mass. Now you can see why I am always praying that young men God is calling to serve Him and His Church will have the courage to say “yes” to that call that He is giving them. Simply put – no priest no Eucharist!
If the Mass is at the very center of our faith, then we should make every effort to participate in Mass as frequently as possible. We are obligated to participate in Mass on Sunday and Holy Days, and invited to make the time to be present for daily Mass as often as possible. I can guarantee you that making the Mass the mainstay of your day will make a big difference in your life! It is impossible to participate in Mass and remain the same person.
The core of the Mass has not changed much over the past 2,000 years – we come to together to listen to the Word and to fed by the Eucharist and then to go out and live the Word strengthened by the Eucharist.
Every Sunday we normally listen to a reading from the Old Testament which is usually connected to the message of the Gospel for that Sunday. But this is not the case during the Easter Season. During this special time the Liturgy of the Word begins with a reading from the Acts of the Apostles where St. Luke gives us an inside view of the early church and how those first Christians worshiped.
It was common for them to gather in the home of one or another of the baptized members. These gathering almost always took place around a meal during which one of the apostles or one designated by them would read from the Sacred Scriptures and then explain the scripture in such a way that the people would be able to make application to their everyday life. This was usually followed by what has become to be called “the breaking of Bread.” This was when the apostle or the one designated by them by the laying on of hands (ordination) would take bread and wine and pronounce the words of consecration over them thus changing them into the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus. This was their way of celebrating Eucharist.
For us who live in the 21st century, our Mass is based on pretty much the same format as that of the early church. We come together around the table of the Lord – the altar, which is the focal point of our gathering. Once we recognize the Lord’s presence among us, we listen to the readings from the Sacred Scriptures. Since the apostle handed down the power of Holy Order through the laying on of hands, it is the ordained deacon or priest who reads the Gospel selection of the day and then, through the homily, interprets the Word of God in a way that makes it easier for the listener to make application in their own daily lives.
Then once the gifts are prepared, the priest, who gets his authority directly from the apostles through the laying on of hands by the bishop, takes bread and wine and pronounces over them the words of consecration that were given to the church by Christ Himself. At this point, the substance of bread and wine is changed into the true Body and Blood of Christ. This is the heart of our Catholic faith.
The Eucharist makes us one with Jesus himself and gives us the grace and strength to live the message that we have just received in the Liturgy of the Word. Because Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, we can come before the Lord to adore Him. You and I need to find the time to visit with Him ever present in the Blessed Sacrament. Monday Adoration is good time for us to do this.
As we go about our daily lives, let us become more aware of the presence of the Resurrected Christ in our midst. Let us frequently call to mind His message given to us during the Liturgy of the Word during our Sunday Mass; and then do everything in our power to live that message. Let us become more aware that when we receive the Eucharist at Holy Communion, we actually become the Eucharist, become one with Jesus himself and make Him present wherever we go.
From the early Christians we learn how to make a difference in a confused world by actually living the life that we received at baptism. The Eucharist is what sustains us in this life. From the Eucharist we get the strength to live the message that we hear at Mass. We are so privileged to have been given this beautiful sacrament of the true presence of the Lord Jesus.
Let me encourage you to make every effort to participate in our Sunday celebration of the Eucharist, the Mass. Hopefully, during the week we eagerly anticipate our coming together for the weekly celebration where we are fed by the Word of God and with the Body and Blood of Jesus. Let me also encourage you to make a greater effort to participate in daily Mass – every day if possible, and if not, one or two days during the week. In this troubled world in which we live, we need the Mass. Remember that Vatican Council II said that the Eucharist is “the source and the summit of our faith.” Staying close to the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is the best way of finding true joy in this life.
Please pray for me! I love you.