By Father Woods
Catholic speaker Matthew Kelly gives a humorous presentation on all the problems people point out about the Mass. Humorous, but accurate. We’ve all heard every one of them. The Mass is too long or too short. The priest is a bad homilist, the choir is terrible, the lectors can’t be heard. The Mass doesn’t have enough young people; the Mass is being taken over by the young. The Mass is too formal; the Mass is too informal. People don’t dress properly for Mass, they go to Communion unworthily. The pews are uncomfortable. Oh how we could go on and on!
Notice one thing that’s never presented as a problem with the Mass: me. Somehow we who attend Mass and do the criticizing are never the problem. And yet, no matter how much we point out what we perceive to be problems with the Mass, we will inevitably discover that the problem is not something “out there”. If there is a problem with the Mass, it’s coming from inside of me.
The Mass is the perfect prayer since it is Christ’s own. We hear His Word proclaimed in the readings and receive His Body and Blood in Holy Communion after the Consecration. Many perfect and necessary acts are repetitious. There are only so many ways to brush your teeth – yet if we stop doing so our teeth fall out! The Mass is repetitious in its skeleton so that everyone can participate. Everyone feels welcome since we all know what to expect.
The focus of the Mass is worship of God- GOD, not me! The Mass isn’t about “what I get out of it.” The Mass is all about what I put into it. The beauty of the Church’s prayer that expresses praises, sorrow, joy, contrition, thanksgiving – every human emotion. In each Mass we recall the truths of our Faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Redemption, etc.) and we remember everyone everywhere (the Pope, the bishops, the deceased, the sick, etc.) Through spoken prayers, readings, hymns, incense, candles, vestments, silence, art, and architecture every facet of the human person is touched and used as a vehicle to offer worship to God. It should be in the very act of giving to God that we find the fulfillment we crave.
Many people are disappointed because they expect the Mass to entertain or educate or enlighten them. Yet, that’s not the primary purpose of the Mass. God is the primary purpose. What happens when we miss Mass? We fail to give God the public worship He is due. Scarier is the reality that if we miss Mass, where else during the week are we going to hear about God? Will anything else during the week present us with the Scriptures , with Holy Communion, with prayers? If we routinely miss Mass then there’s a good chance God will become a memory or our own personal interpretation of Him.
There’s no substitute for what the Mass provides. Spread the word! Tell your friends who don’t attend Mass there’s only one problem with the Mass: they are not there!