Are You Getting Anything Out of Mass?
Tactical Catholic was at Magnificat Day on Saturday in Memphis, Tennessee. My wife and I are so blessed to have been there with so many amazing things going on. I wanted to high five every single Dominican I could, but I honestly lost track there were so many. The Order of Preachers was in full effect on Saturday and I’m so glad for it. No offense to the many beautiful religious orders out there, but my heart is with the Dominican Order. In fact, my current discernment is whether or not to join their Third Order as a layman. But my fanboy attitude toward the St. Dominic and friends will have to wait, because I need to discuss the main point for today’s morning post.
Mass at Magnificat Day was, in one word, beauty. Words fail me. Even in an auditorium built for concerts and theatre, those of us who were at Mass Saturday were transported to the Upper Room, the Cross, the Tomb, the Resurrection, the Ascension, Pentecost….. It was beautiful. And as I stood praying after receiving the precious body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, I pondered the richness of the Sacrifice of the Mass. It was then that I remembered the statistics of the Catholics who were departing the Faith, either for Protestantism or for something else. The most common reason given for their departure is “I wasn’t getting anything out of it.” It, in this case, being the Catholic Faith.
What do you say to something like that?
I think many faithful Catholics would kneejerk a response similar to “You just don’t know what you’re giving up.” or “If you knew the Faith better, you would never consider leaving it.” I think that’s easy for someone to say, but does that really address the spiritual situation in this case? Indeed, catechesis is critical. If one does not understand the Catholic Faith, it is certainly easier to depart from it. This is sadly part of the reason for so much of the dissent we read about among so-called Catholics who have nothing to do with the teachings of the Church, or even rail against them. But those people are not the ones I’m talking about right now. What about the everyday cradle Catholic sitting in the pew every week who just is not connecting, yet seeing friends and possibly family in other religious traditions with zeal and fervor. Who wouldn’t consider at least seeing why this is so?
The worst reaction I believe that a parish can make is to try to imitate the methodologies of their evangelical neighbors. Hear me out before you blow up my comment box with snide remarks. Is there anything wrong with up-tempo music or praise bands? Nope. But I would argue that they do not necessarily belong in the Mass. You need to understand that as Catholics, what distinguishes us from the other Christian faiths is the Catholic belief in the Sacraments, particularly the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Every other Christian faith since the 16th century has abandoned the Sacraments and replaced them with worship centered around the homily. It, not the Eucharist, is the pinnacle of the typical Protestant worship service. For us to try to lay that “style” on top of the Mass is never going to work. It wasn’t meant to.
If you have the privilege of attending a “high Mass” some time, please go. The full beauty and otherness of the Mass will astound the typical Catholic. It’s supposed to. Mass is quantum travelling. When we step through the doors into the Church we are not entering an auditorium (though many are built unbeautiful or in some way identical to typical auditoriums). We are entering into the passion, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, not just in human memory, but in supernatural reality. That Christ on the altar is the very same Christ being received by the disciples at the Last Supper, the same Christ who is offering Himself for the sins of the world, the same Christ who is seated at the right hand of the Father. He is transporting us to the one, final sacrifice of Himself, that we may eat of his flesh and drink his blood, which are true drink and true food. We have intimate union with Jesus Christ and the whole Church from eternity past to eternity future. We are transcending space, time, and dimension by the power of God. You don’t celebrate intimacy with God in His majesty with cheap music and a few stirring choruses.
Now, argue with me about music if you like, but I believe that the more UNlike the rest of the world we are the better. The more our worship space reflects our deep love for God and His holiness and not our typical focus on self, the better. The more otherworldly our worship seems, the more I believe we will be driven to our knees in sincere praise and thanksgiving for the Lord of Hosts.
It’s not going to happen overnight, my friends. In order to change the culture of a parish and engage the faith lives of the disenfranchised, each and every one of us has to have the lived reality of the Mass in our minds, hearts, voices, gestures, and attitudes every time we come to Mass. When we allow ourselves to be transformed in this way it will give off the beautiful odor of holiness. This works so much more effectively than sitting and griping about our particular likes and dislikes in the Mass or what we think Father should be doing. Allow God to transform you, fellow sinner, and let our lived and spoken witness point to the majesty and glory of the Mass and our Lord Jesus Christ. Then, we will see others transformed as well.
Posted on November 3, 2014, in Catholic Belief, Dialogue, Full Disclosure Evangelism, Personal Witness, The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and tagged catholic mass, catholic statistics, catholic worship, contemporary music, praise bands. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.