“I don’t get anything out of going to Mass.” Someone once told me, “You get out of going to Mass what you put into it.” This makes more sense with a more informed theology of Eucharist. When we understand Eucharist, and our participation, as the public prayer of the Church, we tend to “get” more out of going to Mass.
When we go to Mass, we are participating in an official, public, prayer of the Church. Going to Mass is not a private affair; praying the Mass, is praying for the needs of the whole world. We gather in community, as a body of believers, praying not for our personal intentions, but for the needs of the whole world. This is particularly evident in the “Universal Prayer” or, the “Prayers of the Faithful.” That is why it is important that these prayers are carefully prepared and prayed.
Further, if we understand the simple, genius structure of the Mass, our participation becomes a more profound and meaningful experience. We hear the Word of God proclaimed. We believe that when the Word is proclaimed in the Liturgy of the Word, Christ is truly present, as present as Christ is in the consecrated bread and wine, body and blood. We hear the Word of God so we are compelled to act – to be Jesus in the world. After we are fed with the Word, then we are fed at the table, for the same reason. Augustine said, “you become what you eat.” We receive Christ so we become Christ in the world.
This is the heart of Incarnational Spirituality. Jesus became one of us, to show us how to carry on the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is now, but not yet. It is up to each one of us to work to be the Kingdom of God now.
Do you believe that we are fed with the Word and with the Body of Christ so as to be the Body of Christ in the world?
Can you see your participation in the Mass as benefiting the whole world?
By S. Mary C. Henry.