Several years ago, I joined a category of Catholics who were lamenting a loss of connection with the beauty of the Mass, saying “I don’t get much out of the Mass”. Those of us in this trap tend to criticize and blame our feelings on the priest, his accent, the homily, the facilities, the music, crying babies, or misbehaving children for feeling unfulfilled during our weekly obligation. I also fell into the trap of wanting to “learn something” each week, closing my eyes to the pure beauty of the scripture and prayers in our celebration. Instead, I went seeking answers in Protestant bible studies and spiritual books.
Then I stumbled on a book in my local Christian bookstore that changed my faith and the way I view the Mass forever. Matthew Kelly’s words in “Rediscovering Catholicism” hit me square in the head like a ton of bricks.
“We don’t go to Mass to socialize. We don’t go to be entertained. We go to receive. We go to Mass to be fed and nourished by the Word of God – both in Scripture and in Sacrament. Open your heart, open your mind, and open your spirit.”
I realized the problem wasn’t with my priest, his homily, my parish or the Mass of the Catholic Church. It was with me. My focus had drifted from the true purpose and intention of the Mass. I was asking it to provide something to me without my being completely open to receive it. And in doing so, I missed the wonderful gift Christ wanted to grant me each week. Jesus was there, waiting for me every Sunday, ready to fill me with the Holy Spirit, if I would just allow Him.
“Mass is about receiving the body and blood of Christ, not just physically, but spiritually … Rediscover the wonder.”
Recognizing that Christ is waiting for me each week in the Mass, I began to pray, “Lord, help me be as really present to you, as You are really present to me.” This prayer centers my focus on the gift Christ gives us through the holy Mass and helps me open myself to receive Him in the Sacrament.
The truth is – if we don’t “get anything” out of Mass – the fault is our own, because the thing we are supposed to “get” is always present for us in the holy Mass. Jesus and the Holy Spirit. So, we must ask ourselves – What are we there for? What were we hoping to “get”. If seeing Jesus, as the priest holds up the Eucharist and proclaims “the body of Christ,” and receiving Him and the Holy Spirit in Communion and the Word of God isn’t the primary reason you attend Mass, maybe it is time to spend some moments reflecting on what Christ truly offers us in the beautiful Sacrament of Eucharist within the Mass.