Doing Our Part to Keep Our Celebrations of Mass Vibrant and Meaningful
Sep 23, 2018
Hopefully, the privilege and responsibility to gather each weekend and special Holy Day to celebrate Mass remains at the hub and the heart of our lives as the Lord’s People. Let’s look at what we might do to keep our weekly celebrations of Mass vibrant and meaningful.
In the structure of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Word is one of the key elements. At weekend Masses, there are three Readings from the Scriptures. Normally at weekday Masses, two Readings are to be proclaimed. The Scripture references for the Readings to be proclaimed at the Masses during each given week are printed in the bulletin. Many have found it valuable and helpful to read and to reflect upon the Readings for the coming weekend’s Masses ahead of time. Developing or maintaining this habit can powerfully influence the impact that the Readings have upon us when they are proclaimed at Mass.
The Church insists that we refrain from eating or drinking beverages other than water for at least an hour before we receive Holy Communion. An intent of this discipline is to deepen our sensitivity to our Lord’s Presence as He offers this to us in a distinctive way in the Eucharist.
Food is but one item with which we can clutter up our lives, thus dulling our sensitivity to the Lord’s Presence and the implications of this in the Eucharist. For this reason, many find it helpful to refrain from needless noise and activity for a period of time before Mass begins. Along this line, this is why a number of persons like to prepare for Mass by coming to church as much as half an hour more or less before Mass begins for prayer and reflection.
A third way of preparing to celebrate Mass in a fruitful manner calls for examining our lives in the light of our Lord’s forgiving love. Sin dulls our sensitivity to the Presence and working of the Lord within ourselves and in others. As an analogy, to prepare ourselves for the festive gatherings that we have with one another, we work to make ourselves presentable. We bathe and groom ourselves out of respect for ourselves, our host and the other guests.
From the time of the Apostles, the Church has insisted that in order to receive Holy Communion in a manner that does not harm ourselves and others, we need to allow the Lord to free us from grave sin and its impact ahead of receiving the Eucharist. Two kinds of grave sin that are becoming increasingly acceptable among Catholics are those of refraining from coming to Mass each weekend and Obligatory Holy Day and that of engaging in the misuse of the gift of our sexuality in our thoughts, words and actions. Sinning in these ways significantly cripples our capacity to receive and to extend the Presence and working of the Lord in our lives. For this reason, if we have engaged ourselves in these and/or in other expressions of grave sin, the Church insists that we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation before we receive Holy Communion again.
Even if we are not aware of grave/serious sin in our lives, we are highly encouraged to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation on a regular frequent basis.
In summary, these are but three ways in which we can grow in the ability to experience our weekly participation at Mass as the activity which is at the hub and the heart of our lives as the Lord’s People.
Fr. Nelson Beaver – Pastor