A-Z of the Mass: Conclusion

A-Z of the Mass: Conclusion

For theologians such as Pope Benedict XVI the mystery of the Eucharist is intimately bound up with the mystery of our union with Christ. Participation in the Mass, then, should have a positive impact on an individual’s subjective response to grace. The whole point of worship is to be raised up in Christ and transformed toward His level. Yet somehow our everyday experiences of liturgy can seem far removed from such elevated claims. We do not often feel like we have shared in the eternal and infinite love of the Trinity. We rarely get a ‘kick’ out of going to Mass.

In God Still Matters, Herbert McCabe OP points out that to call a Mass dull is not necessarily a criticism. He contrasts the immediate pleasure of drinking good Irish whiskey with the more sustained satisfaction of living in a comfortable and tastefully furnished room. For McCabe, good liturgy is more like this second kind of satisfaction. Sunday Mass rarely takes one’s breath away, but if one is deprived of decent liturgy for a sustained period of time one begins to notice an important gap in one’s emotional and spiritual life.

This summer we have tried through our A-Z of the Mass to draw attention to some of the dimensions and symbols of the Mass that perhaps go unnoticed. We have tried to offer some fresh perspectives on our ‘well furnished room’ in the hope that it might aid a deeper participation in the Eucharistic mystery. This mystery is ‘the source and summit of Christian life’ (Lumen gentium §11). Paying close attention to what we do and say on a Sunday morning is not navel gazing. Our communion with Christ is what vivifies and sustains our mission to the world. As Presbyterorum ordinis, Vatican II’s decree on the ministry and life of priests, puts it:

The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate are bound up with the Eucharist and are orientated towards it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch (PO §5).

Nicholas Crowe OP

Fr Nicholas Crowe is currently studying for an STL in moral theology at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland.