The union of the holy sacrifice
In the mid-1990s, a new Catholic convert, I often attended the daily midday mass at St. Basil’s in Koreatown. I found it fascinating – I still find it – that the Mass on a given day should be the same everywhere, subject neither to the whim of the priest, nor to the sensitivity of the faithful, nor to the free-spirited whim of a parish council. , for example.
Previously, an older lady led us into the Angelus, followed by the morning offering which begins: “O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, labors, joys and sufferings of this day , in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world.
I’ve been thinking about this prayer a lot lately. At one end of the spectrum is the “Mass” I recently attended which bore a great resemblance to the Buddha, Leonard Cohen’s “hymns” and the Gospel read by a woman.
The triune God, creator of all things visible and invisible, already includes everyone and everything. Claiming to be more inclusive than Christ by individualizing the Mass only desecrates the Eucharist.
At the other end of the spectrum is the crowd that wants to take the Mass back to pre-Vatican II times and find an inferior non-Latin Mass.
I understand the thirst for beautiful liturgy and music around the Eucharist. But the fact is, as Flannery O’Connor once observed, “Mass could be said from a suitcase in a boiler room, and the same sacrifice would take place.”
The true beauty of the Mass comes from the disposition of the heart that we bring to the altar of “the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church” to which we swear obedience in the Creed.
On a recent trip to Ireland, the first place I visited, after checking into my Dublin Airbnb, was a church: St. Francis Xavier, better known to locals as Gardiner Street Church, where Ven. Matt Talbot was a parishioner for 40 years.
The leather covering the knees was cracked, the paint near the ceiling was peeling. And near the front was a man in a worn sports jacket, along with two frail old ladies and a young mother with a baby praying the rosary.
Instantly, I was oriented. Instantly I was home. I knelt down, picked up the thread and entered the heart of the city, the island, the world.
“People watch at, say, a daily Monday morning mass,” a friend recently remarked. “Do they seem to be trying to ‘reform’ the liturgy? Do they seem at the top of their game? No. They cling. They barely cling. »
This is the attitude with which to approach the Mass. Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno wrote that the holiest thing about a church is that it is a place where people go to mourn.
Throughout history people have died to receive the Eucharist. Servant of God Walter Ciszek, a Polish-American Jesuit priest sentenced to hard labor in Siberia, served clandestine masses in the woods at noon for his men, all on pain of torture or death. Already on starvation rations, they fasted from midnight the night before to receive the Eucharist, so much did it mean to them.
Today, all over the world, people put their lives in danger every time they attend mass. countries.
We need the Eucharist to hold together. We need the whole Mystical Body. We need to be in union with all the other masses around the world because we cannot cross this vale of tears alone. We want to offer ourselves in solidarity with the prayers, the works, the joys and the sufferings of every other person in the world because this offering is the only point and possible meaning of our existence.
British spiritual writer Caryll Houselander once observed: “It was during the London blitz [in World War II] that the glory of the unceasing elevation of the Host has come to me as never before. It was then often difficult to go to mass, or to be able to take communion… Today, more than a year after the end of the war, I still feel a feeling of relief like a load that falls from my heart each time I go to mass, and again and again on the way. I think of those others who still have, and may always have, dangers and hardships to face in order to go to Mass—to martyrs and potential martyrs in persecuted countries, to missionaries who endure any hardship, any risk, to take Christ to the ends of the earth to be adored, to give him, as the bread of life, to any starving spiritual little one in pagan land.
That we are worthy to receive the Eucharist – in any setting, in any circumstances – even once in our life would be the pinnacle of our existence. It is something to remember every time we attend Mass.