“Do you ever feel like you’re just going through the motions at Mass?”
Edward Sri poses that question in his book “Into His Likeness” and assumes that the answer, for many of us, is “Yes.”
But don’t get discouraged, Sri advises. “By just showing up at Mass, saying the prayers and worthily receiving Jesus in Holy Communion, you are giving something beautiful to God.”
He then goes on to suggest three things people can do to help them appreciate the Mass more fully:
—prepare to encounter Jesus in the Scripture by reflecting on the readings ahead of time;
—take time for thanksgiving after receiving Communion;
—and make time to visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass.
In addition, I think, it would help if we were more conscious of what is happening at Mass in a broader sense.
Over the years, I have come to appreciate how the Eucharist invites us into a different place — not so much into a place disconnected from here and now as the old Latin Mass did, but into a place where we see the here and now in a different way.
For instance, in a society which values personal freedom and individual autonomy, the Eucharist invites us to remember that we are also social beings who cannot exist outside the web of interconnections. We are all born out of, and born into, a human community; we depend on that community, and the community depends on us.
In a society which emphasizes personal independence and self-determination, the Eucharist invites us to remember that we are also products of our experience, shaped by time and space. We have a history and a future, which gives meaning and purpose to our existence.
In a “disenchanted,” secular society which over-emphasizes the material and is skeptical about the spiritual, the Eucharist invites us to trust our intuition. There is more to reality than meets the eye — a deeper, spiritual dimension that cannot be fully explained or understood by human reason or science.
Finally, in a society which values the role of those who are especially gifted but under-estimates the value of everyone else — a society which leaves too many people feeling useless, discouraged, powerless and vulnerable — the Eucharist insists that every human life has purpose and value, that what we do in this world, however insignificant, makes a difference, for better or worse. In other words, the Eucharist invites us into the kingdom of God which is gradually unfolding among us, as Jesus said, in the very real here and now.
Who among us does not hunger for this brave new world filled with grace and hope and love?
What do you think?
Pray and Reflect
Use one or more of the following questions for personal reflection, group discussion or private journaling:
- On a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high) rate how much you appreciate the Eucharist. How would you have rated yourself five years ago?
- In what ways does the Eucharist sustain, nurture and deepen your relationship with Christ and the body of Christ on earth? In what ways does it fail to do that? Do you hunger for what the Eucharist promises? If we cannot change the Mass, how can we change ourselves in order to appreciate it more? How can we help our children, grandchildren and students appreciate the Mass more?
- I think the Eucharist …
Read and reflect on “Why the Eucharist Is a Challenge to Us:” http://bit.do/Mass-Challenge.
Join the Conversation
Add your comments to this week’s discussion at http://bit.do/disciples-corner.
Dave Cushing is director of adult faith formation for the Catholic parishes in Waterloo. The Disciple’s Corner is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Dubuque’s Faith Formation Division and The Witness. It is funded through the Archdiocesan Educational Development Board. It is designed to help catechists, teachers, parents, grandparents, guardians and other adults grow in their appreciation of their role as disciples of Jesus Christ.