The Mass: Four Encounters with Jesus That Will Change Your Life


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Perhaps you have heard about St. A twleve-year-old boy, he was an altar server. Being a time of persecution, they could not celebrate Mass openly as we do, so they went underground — in the Catacombs of Rome. After Mass, they chose Tarcisius to take Communion to someone who could not attend. The priest placed the consecrated Host in a special container, that Tarcisius held under his robe, near his heart.

On the way some boys were playing ball. Needing an extra player, they called Tarcisius to join them. When he said he could not, they asked him what he was holding. The boys gathered around him and began to taunt him. As he held the Host tightly, the boys became furious, hitting and kicking Tarcisius. Eventually a man came who shouted and chased the boys away.

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Tarcisius was beaten so badly the man had to pick him up. He died on the way and was buried in the Cemetery of St. Like Tarcisius, many Christians have given their lives for the Eucharist — not just in the early centuries, but in modern times. In Nazi concentration camps, priests celebrated secret Masses so they and other prisoners could receive Communion. A priest in a Vietnamese prison celebrated Mass by holding a tiny particle of bread and single drop of wine in the palm of his hand. If the Eucharist meant so much to these Christians, what about us?

So, to return to our original question: Why do I have to go to Mass? He received his graduate degree in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and his Ph. He served as the Evangelization Continental Director for North America and the Caribbean, a worldwide effort sponsored by the Vatican to promote a decade in evangelization in anticipation of the Great Jubilee Year He has served executives at the highest level in the aerospace, healthcare and biotech industries, as well in the Catholic Church.

Kari is a wife, mother and homeschooler who passionately promotes the glorious vocation of being a mother with honesty, humility and hilarity. Kari completed her B. The astonishing news is that it not only can, but it does. At Mass. At Mass, the up was the scene of Jesus being scourged at the pillar. As Paschal Mystery is made present to us. We were stunned into a just got stretched in another direction.

At Mass, not only different kind of silence by the intense scene. This lasted for does Heaven break into earth, which is incredible enough about five seconds and then that image broke up and the all by itself, but the past breaks into the present. Not just other movie we were watching re-emerged on the screen. This is what is breaking into is unique: all other historical events happen once, our midst at Mass.

The in-breaking of the movie Jesus of Nazareth had a The Paschal mystery of Christ, by contrast, cannot big impact on us as movie watchers. What if we divine eternity, and so transcends all times while could have some kind of living encounter with the event being made present in them all. It would change our lives … and so it will, if thing toward life. It can and does happen because Jesus Himself, Who is not only man but God, established that it would happen like this. When did He do that? At the Last Supper.

It is difficult to understand. In fact, we will never fully comprehend it precisely because it is a mystery. It overflows on every side. The Paschal Mystery is, however, a reality that we can welcome into our lives and encounter in a life-changing way at Mass. If we were just a little bit further move through the Mass. But not yet. Not at this point in the Mass. Before they of the Word, ending with the Prayers of the Faithful.

They represent our lives offered Eucharist. The bread and wine stand for the back of the Church. The Presentation of the Gifts involves a family, couple Think about that for a moment. It is your life that or other representatives from the congregation carrying is being put into the hands of the priest: your past, the bread, wine and collection basket up to the priest and handing them off. Yet it is. In fact, for me personally, it is one of the most dramatic parts of the Mass for us in the pews. It is a moment when we can be acutely aware that the pew is on the playing field.

We are in the game. We are participants. Because of the meaning of walking up and present, and future; your hopes and dreams; your family and friends; your loves, hates, and fears; your difficulties and joys, hurts and pains. All that you are and have is being freely given over to God in the symbolic gesture of presenting the bread and wine into the hands of the priest, in whom there is a special presence of Jesus Christ the High Priest. That is the meaning of the gesture of the handing over the bread and wine to the priest.

What does Presentation of the Gifts, but understanding the gesture this handing over mean? The most important over to God! After all, what happens to sacrificial goats, sheep and cattle in the Bible? They are killed. The idea of giving something up helps shed some light on what it means that the bread and wine are offered to God as a spiritual sacrifice. The lamb is no longer part of the flock; it is given up to God and set apart for His purpose.

Indeed, it is killed; it is set apart so radically that there is no way it can be brought back into the flock. There is no returning it back to its pre-sacrificial condition. You no longer belong to yourself. Have you ever thought about that? At every Mass, during the Presentation of the Gifts, you are watching a gesture that expresses that you belong to God. You are His. There is no such thing as an ordinary person at Mass.

There are only people who have been drawn out of ordinary ways of seeing who they are, what their life is about, what their past is, and where they are going. That is what we are invited to recognize and freely do at Mass—whether we realize it or not. If we have eyes to see, we see that we are invited to give it all. But before to the priest, ask yourself if you are a willing participant. He completely, totally, forever handed over to God. I wrote about paying the debt of Hold nothing back. Push all your chips on the table. No gratitude to God we feel in our hearts. At this moment, we bluffing allowed!

Do you really want to offer God for your life, to give yourself to Him once again. Do you want to pay that debt of Once the bread and wine are handed to the priest, gratitude? If you do, know what it is going to cost you. It he brings them to the altar and offers them to God.

We were joined to Christ in baptism precisely so that we could offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, our spiritual worship Romans It is right in front of us in the in this context. Did you ever notice that the the Mass. He reminds us that this action is a sacrifice. It was a way of In Chapter One, I focused on the fact that the Mass is weakening the strength of the wine, by watering it down.

We are actually getting a little hint here into where Priest: The Lord be with you. Us: And also with you. Priest: Lift up your hearts. Us: We lift them up to the Lord. Priest: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. Us: It is right to give him thanks and praise. Mass is headed. Do you know what is happening to Notice the language.

It mentions the heart. What is the our humanity through this giving over of our lives as a heart we are lifting up here? You are no longer just a human being. Your life, just as you are, is immersed in the very divine life of Christ at Mass.

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Why do I have to go to Mass?

How could anyone possibly be bored when these are the stakes? The Heart of the Priesthood Now after the priest offers our gifts as a spiritual sacrifice, the priest has a dialogue with us that will lead us Gospel. The heart is the center of who you are, the very core of your being. While we do these things we stand, signifying by our words and posture that we are actively involved in giving ourselves to God. To give Him thanks and praise. We will see this unfold beginning with what happens next.

Heaven and earth are full of Your glory. Hosanna in the highest! Two places: Messiah, was coming to inaugurate His kingdom in His holy city. There is one big surprise. Jesus chose to enter the city in a humble way, riding on a donkey. The Church Heaven and earth. The beginning of this prayer comes invites us to make these words our own at this point in from a heavenly vision granted to the prophet Isaiah: the Mass. Because Jesus Christ is about to enter His In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, with the train of his garment filling the temple.

Seraphim were stationed above; each of them had six wings: with two they veiled their faces, with two they veiled their feet, and with two they hovered aloft. He is coming as what looks like bread and wine. We respond to this recognition of His humble arrival by humbling ourselves before what is about to happen.

We do this by kneeling. They are what Isaiah —3 the ritual calls the Epiclesis and the Prayer of Consecration. By putting a prayer from a biblical vision of heavenly worship on our lips, we are asked to recognize that our The Epiclesis is that part of the Mass where the priest puts his hands over the bread and wine—which up to this point symbolized us—and calls down the Holy Spirit so prayers at Mass draw us up into the worship of God in that they will be transformed into the Body and Blood of Heaven.

Once again we bump up against a need to listen Jesus Christ. If the typical manner of our saying alone. In order to go from bread and wine to the Real or singing the Sanctus is any measure of our recognition Presence of Jesus Christ, body, blood, soul and divinity, of where we are at Mass, then we have a long way to go. On Fourth, just as God has chosen not to give us the his own, the priest does not have the ability to turn bread Eucharist except through the hands of His priests, so God and wine into the Real Presence of Jesus Christ, body, has a work that He wants to accomplish in and through blood, soul and divinity.

The priest is totally dependent you. It is true that if you do not do the work that He upon the Holy Spirit to bring about this transformation. Nevertheless it is just as who is God Almighty, could, on His own, turn the bread true that there are things you are called to do. You have and wine into the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus been given gifts for the upbuilding of the Church, and you Christ without a priest at all.

But He has willed not to. God has willed to work through the ordained bishops and priests in whom Jesus Christ the High Priest is present in a special way. And for the Holy Spirit to bring about what He wills, He has willed to need an ordained bishop or priest. Third, this radical mutual interdependence between the Holy Spirit and the priest at this point in the Mass shines a light on a similar reality in our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ.

At have been brought into contact with people with whom God intends you to share your faith. It is no accident you were born in this moment in the place where you are. God made you to do what must be done for His kingdom. Right now! Right here! However, He needs you to cooperate with Him to bring about the work He wants to do in you and through you. This incredible mutuality of dependence shows up in the Mass, and reflects what is also true in our lives.

Sokolowski notes that at and gave you thanks and praise. He broke the the Last Supper, Jesus prophetically anticipates His death bread, gave it to his disciples, and said: on the cross by His taking up bread and wine and saying, Take this, all of you, and eat it: this is my body which will be given up for you. When supper was ended, he took the cup. Again he gave you thanks and praise, gave the cup to his disciples, and said: Take this, all of you, and drink from it: this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant.

It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me. Robert Sokolowski in his amazing book, Eucharistic Presence, points out that there is an important shift in the Eucharistic Prayer, a shift from narration to quotation. For instance, when Jesus takes the cloth off of the basket of bread, the camera immediately cuts to Jesus being stripped of His cloak on Calvary.

The film powerfully illustrates the idea that Jesus, at the Last Supper, is prophetically anticipating what will happen a mere eighteen hours later. What about us? Sokolowski points out that what Jesus prophetically anticipates, we remember. But the word remember is misleading for us. When we remember, we call to mind an event that the Prayer of Consecration, he is allowing Jesus Christ the is past and stays in the past, except in our minds. That High Priest, present in him, to speak. The priest is acting is not the biblical meaning of remembering. The word in in persona Christi capitis, in the person of Christ the Greek for remembering is anamnesis.

To remember, for Head. In so doing, we are able to encounter for ourselves, the Jewish mind, was to make present, really and effectively. Children centuries later speak of the Exodus as though they were personally present. After you witnessed what I did to Egypt, and dwelt a long time in the desert. Joshua —8 Note the language: you, your fathers, you. The point is this: the same thing happens at Mass! Recall that the whole generation of the Exodus has language.

Rather, this saving reality is made present and died and Joshua is now addressing the generation born effective to us today. He died for the sins of all of the people who would ever live. All of the sins that anyone will ever commit in all of history are loaded onto the shoulders of Jesus Christ the Son of God, and He bears them for all. For us. When we choose to sin today, it affects what Jesus suffered 2, years ago. Of course, their desire to die was a longing to be with the One who was their reason for living.

Take this, all of you and eat it. This is my body and blood which are given for you. I make you holy! Do not carry your sins around; I have already freed you from them! I am here to set you free so that you can show the world what my Risen Life looks like. This is My hour, this liturgy of the Mass, is the summation of My life.

They did not want to press that That is what happens at Mass. We have displayed thorn any more fully into His head, scourge Him with before us in Mass the most profound, absolute, perfect more lashes, or allow the darkness, fear and confusion He commitment of God to us, in love. In very truth, the Mass endured to be any more profound. And the fruit of it is genuine cup I drink?

Jesus, after the Last to us like a million volt charge. Could we? How then do we sing such songs at Mass knowing we are We began the Mass by acknowledging our position before not all in, but bluffing? I whelms our ability to know it completely. On the altar, cannot give myself to You in sacrifice unless You have we encounter Jesus Christ in the presence of the priest already given Yourself to me in sacrifice. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. The Great Amen This mystery of faith is spoken in several ways. You are the Savior of the world.

Transubstantiation means there is a trans, a change, You destroyed our death. Rising, You restored our life. In other words, the very core reality has Lord Jesus, come in glory! It looks, smells and tastes like What is a mystery of faith? In theology, the word bread and wine.

But after the Epiclesis and the Prayer of mystery means something different than in popular Consecration, it is no longer bread and wine but the body, culture. Popularly speaking, a mystery is something that is blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. He is really, truly presently unknown, that will probably one day be known, present. That is what is occurring on that altar. We bring if we simply think about it hard enough and figure it out.

Through the A mystery of faith is different. It is a reality that is so power of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ present in the great and so profound, that when it is revealed it over- priest, bread and wine are transformed into Jesus Christ. We give God the glory and the consecration of the Eucharist. We come to give God thanks and praise. Why do we put ourselves at you. In your heart of hearts on the altar as a sacrifice? It is in order to give God thanks are you putting yourself, your family, that child of yours, and praise. Are you offering your and, ultimately, die. We lift up our hearts to the Lord, future?

Your present? Your past? Are you why? To give Him thanks and praise as Christ did. But then we come to realize shown me that You are all mine.

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I need Your strength to are linked into the divine praise and glorification of the do it. And Jesus, let me thank and praise God, finally, in Father by the Son. If I want to give God thanks and praise the way that He deserves. I can do it in the way that my heart was made to give. I can do it because I am doing it through, with and in Jesus Christ, who offers His Father perfect worship.

That is what happens at Mass. Christ is present in the community, drawing us up into the very worship of Heaven. Christ is present in the Word, unveiling His heart for us and exposing our hearts to Him, causing us to take up our place in the drama of dramas. What fears can yet assail thee now? For me, it was the Easter Vigil, at St. Actually, I got to be there with St. Then I saw the pectoral cross that he asked by the Vatican to provide about a dozen seminarians would be wearing during the Easter vigil, laid out on the to serve in various roles at the Easter Vigil.

It was an incred- get the privilege of serving was determined by picking ible moment. Shortly after that three other seminarians names out of a hat.

Mass: Four Encounters with Jesus That Will Change Your Life

Not only did my name get picked, but came into the Sacristy with the Master of Ceremonies and when the liturgical roles were assigned, I was picked to another attendant. He went down the line and we introduced wearing it. He was absorbed in prayer, gazing on walk all around it. It was probably a once-in-a-lifetime Christ Crucified. Just by watching him, I was drawn into opportunity to see that masterpiece so close up and from a more prayerful spirit as well. So I took some time to appreciate the He led us in a short prayer and then we proceeded beauty of the sculpture from angles inaccessible to most out.

Outside the Sacristy, all of the other hundred or so visitors. After a while, the Master of Ceremonies pulled people involved in the Procession had been lined up by me aside and told me that when the time came to line up rank. At the front of the line were the candle bearers, for the procession, I and a few others were to go into the then the lectors, deacons, priests, monsignors, bishops, Sacristy where the Pope vested, because of our roles at archbishops, Cardinals, the Pope, and then … me.

As the Mass. From that and see what was there. NO of St. Some were even singing and dancing. Christ was risen indeed! I will throng. And do you know what impact that actually had never forget it. None at all. As we processed out, we were greeted by a blinding wall of flashing lights and clicking cameras. I saw in a way I never had before what this man did to people.

As he walked by, people were crying and reaching out to him. There was a sense of devotion, of personal affection, of love for this holy man of God who made Jesus Christ so present and real. The magnetism of this man was extraordinary— because his eyes were fixed, not on the flashing lights, but on Christ Crucified. Learning to See as the Angels See After experiencing a Mass like that, the tendency is to talk as though other Masses are merely ordinary.

Though some Masses have a way of displaying more majestically, wondrously, and marvelously what is happening on the altar, the fact is that the same Eucharistic miracle makes Christ present at every Mass. There is no ordinary Mass. What I saw displayed at that Mass at St. It was people coming up to be Confirmed, people coming to about Jesus.

John Paul has gone to his great reward, but receive their first Holy Communion. It was incredible Jesus Christ is alive and present on every altar in the world to see folks from around the world, wearing their native through the Holy Eucharist.

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So the angels rejoice at every dress, approach and kneel before the Pope with tears Mass just as I rejoiced that night. Our task is to learn to streaming down their faces as he Baptized or Confirmed see with the eyes of the angels and the saints, to see the them. It filled me with tremendous joy. Joy was the key extraordinary in what appears ordinary. At the end of Mass, as we The goal of this book is to help you see who is present processed out, the joy of Easter that filled St.

The first mode that awaits us in the future. His presence in the Eucharist brought us. When we come into Mass, we are welcomed will point us towards the future, and point out to us that into the realm of Heaven. Getting the Communion Rite Right We now begin a new part of the Mass called the Rite of Stretched in Every Direction Have you noticed that the presences of Christ we have explored to this point take us in unique directions? His presence in the community draws us upwards from life today into the heavenly realm of eternity; His presence in the Word opens us to what comes down like lightning Communion.

Now that Christ is really and truly present in the Eucharist, the altar becomes a table. When we think of an altar, we rightly think of a sacrifice. When we think of a table, we think of meal. The Eucharistic Altar is both. That is why we are invited to experience a communion with the One who is Holy and then, through Him, with one from Heaven, striking our lives here, now and today; His another. We are invited to a Holy Communion. We who presence in the priest draws 2,year-old events from now recognize the Real Presence of Jesus Christ, under the past into the present.

In the community and the Word, the appearance of bread and wine, are to prepare well there are movements from earth to Heaven and Heaven before we approach the table of the Lord. Communion to earth; from time to eternity and eternity to time. In the will involve a more profound encounter with Jesus Christ priest, we have the past brought into the present.

What than we have yet had at Mass. In the Eucharist, He is direction is missing? The future. The fourth presence of accessible to the point of being consumable. So the Eucharist is also food for communion. We better get this right. The first thing to notice is that our prayers and actions express that we are still on the way to our heavenly home- The Family that Prays Together … land. Yes, Christ has won the victory, but we are not yet After the Great Amen, we stand to pray The Our off the battlefield. We are like the Israelites who ritually Father. Exodus After sharing the first Passover meal, including the Passover Lamb, the Israelites were to be ready to make the journey the Lord had planned for them, a journey towards God.

The Kingdom of God lies ahead of and ultimately to the Promised Land. The Passover meal us. It is brought near in the Word incarnate, it is was not about settling and getting comfy in Egypt. It was proclaimed throughout the whole Gospel, and it about being set free to move toward their true home. Receiving Jesus Christ, the Supper and, in the Eucharist, it is in our midst. The Lamb of God in communion we will experience what the kingdom will come in glory when Christ hands it Church calls a foretaste of Heaven.

But we have far to over to his Father. This is why the Catholic Christ in our midst 2, years ago , is coming at every tradition speaks of man as homo viator: one who is on Mass, Jesus Christ comes again, especially in the Eucharist , the way. Since we are on the way, we can still God, we are desperate for Your Kingdom to break into fall into evil. We experience temptation and find ourselves our world right now and right here! Because the Kingdom in conflict with God, others and our own hearts.

We ask God to feed us every day with bread that is We ask God to deliver us. In the Bread from we will fall into sin. Can you see how fitting it is that we pray the you can become quite anxious. We are about to you might not arrive. Or you can become anxious about receive Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life in communion. Here your loved ones.

So we pray that God will free us from all we are petitioning God for that heavenly gift. In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful … Stays Together After this, the Mass continues with this dialogue: hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We need to be delivered from evil. Grant us peace when? Grant us peace in our day. In other Priest: Let us offer each other a sign of peace.

That talking about forgiving real, nasty, cruel, spiteful, mean, is the state of being you are in when everything is in order low and unrepentant sinners who knew exactly what they in your life. Heaven is that place where such order reigns were doing when they hurt us, did it anyway, and never securely forever. Peace is the fruit of being in right rela- said they were sorry. When I am about, and Jesus very deliberately ties our own forgive- living under the Lordship of Christ, then I know peace. Mark There is not the faintest suggestion that if At this point, the Mass is also following a biblical we refuse to extend mercy to others, we shall find it for principle by asking us to extend a sign of peace to ourselves.

Similarly, if you approach the altar and realize someone has something against you, you are to make peace with him. In short, if we are those who trespass against us. That sounds nice—until you have to do it. Then, the best of our ability, with everyone. The Sign of Peace almost nothing in Christianity is harder than forgiving. That requires humility done to us. If you approach the Sign of Peace like this, you may But there is also a complexity here.

Sometimes we find yourself thinking of that cousin who owes you money, cannot truly offer peace all the way. Sometimes the hurt is or your former friend who betrayed your trust and spread so deep, or the conflict so complex, the situation so entan- all those lies about you, or that girl in grade school that gled with sins on both sides that complete reconciliation is you made fun of all those years ago.

The Mass challenges really not possible right now. I am sign of peace from them. What can we do to be reconciled willing to be made willing to extend a sign of peace. But in such circumstances? I am going to do what I can What you can do is see your cousin, your former right now even if it is not much. I will extend as much friend and that grade school girl in those who are actu- peace as I can to those with whom I am not at peace. In that gesture of extending your hand and offering peace, you can both extend peace to those people whose hands you actually shake, while also symbolically extending peace to all those in your life with whom you are not at peace.

While shaking hands, think about those people in your life you have something against or who have something against you. For you must Today, I cannot shake hands, maybe just one little finger. Have mercy on us. Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world. Grant us peace. Who is Jesus? Because His sacrifice also includes me. He died for my sins—my sins. She holds the scales of justice in her hands, and she is blindfolded. Why is Justice blind? In justice, people get what they deserve without prejudice or partiality, regardless of wealth or race or creed.

Mercy is not blind. Mercy sees. Mercy fulfills Passover, a Jewish family would bring a lamb to the justice by overflowing it, in the sense that we do not get temple to be sacrificed in order to receive forgiveness for what we deserve in our relationship with God. Instead, their sins.

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Not coincidentally, John carefully notes that Jesus got what we deserved by dying on our behalf. And Jesus was crucified at noon on the day of Preparation because of this, we receive mercy. We receive a fresh start, for Passover. Because at that moment, Passover a new beginning. The Lamb of God is taking away the sins of the God, namely the whole world. He is taking what we deserve. Happy are those who are called to his supper. From Scripture! The Church places us in When he entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, the shoes of a man whom Jesus did not merely commend: Jesus was amazed at the Centurion.

But this Gentile had greater faith than suffering dreadfully. Now, by the power of the Holy Spirit in and cure him.

The Mass: Four Encounters with Jesus That Will Change Your Life The Mass: Four Encounters with Jesus That Will Change Your Life
The Mass: Four Encounters with Jesus That Will Change Your Life The Mass: Four Encounters with Jesus That Will Change Your Life
The Mass: Four Encounters with Jesus That Will Change Your Life The Mass: Four Encounters with Jesus That Will Change Your Life
The Mass: Four Encounters with Jesus That Will Change Your Life The Mass: Four Encounters with Jesus That Will Change Your Life
The Mass: Four Encounters with Jesus That Will Change Your Life The Mass: Four Encounters with Jesus That Will Change Your Life
The Mass: Four Encounters with Jesus That Will Change Your Life The Mass: Four Encounters with Jesus That Will Change Your Life
The Mass: Four Encounters with Jesus That Will Change Your Life The Mass: Four Encounters with Jesus That Will Change Your Life

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