Fr. James Baron

Revive Alive - The Eucharistic Revival in the Diocese of Colorado Springs

It is also called the “Holy Mass (Missa), because the liturgy in which the mystery of salvation is accomplished concludes with the sending forth (missio) of the faithful, so that they may fulfill God’s will in their daily lives.”  
 — Catechism of the Catholic Church, No.  1332

If you have not spent much time thinking about the Mass, it might come as a surprise that the Mass has two parts; the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Without going to detail, each part is different but also 100% related to the other. How so? 

The first part, the Liturgy of the Word, is a breaking open of the Sacred Scripture, or the Word of God. It proclaims God’s faithful love throughout salvation history and nourishes us in a spiritual way. The Scriptures remind us of what God has already done for his people. It also points to what happens in the second part of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This is where we participate in the pinnacle of salvation history, namely the Passover of Christ. This includes his Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension. Together, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist form “one single act of worship.” (CCC, No. 1347). The first helps prepare us for the second.

 The Liturgy of the Eucharist fulfills the longing of our hearts stirred up by the Liturgy of the Word. Think of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Jesus, unrecognized, walked beside two disciples and, beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Lk 24:27) Their hearts were burning within them. But it was not until Jesus took the bread and blessed and broke it, and gave it to them that their eyes were opened to recognize Jesus was truly there. This encounter is a powerful summary of what happens at Mass. 

Here are two important take-aways: 1) God is active and present at Mass, even if you do not recognize him. 2) It is important to come to know Jesus in Sacred Scripture! If we allow God to speak to our hearts through his Word in the scriptures, we can more easily recognize him in the sacraments. We see that every sacrament, especially the Eucharist, is a part of God’s plan of salvation. The Mass is deeply biblical.
Remember how we said there are two halves of the Mass? There is a very important third part of the Mass, which is what happens when we are sent forth. “Ita Missa Est!” (Go, it is sent!) Meaning, the Word and Sacraments we receive in the Mass equip us to bring Jesus into our daily lives. And this makes sense. God actually acts in the actual lives of actual people. The Scriptures remind us of this. He wants to act in your life. The sacrifice of Calvary was not just for “someone” generally but for  you specifically. Communion is not an impersonal thing. It is Jesus coming to dwell with you. And because of this, when you are sent at the end of Mass, you are sent as Christ-bearers into the world. 

This “third part of the Mass” is meant to unleash everything that just happened in the sacred liturgy. We are sent (Missa) to be on mission — God’s mission. This means we must live in an ongoing communion with Jesus, acting as he would act, thinking as he would think, speaking as he would speak. We are sent to bring the same Jesus we received in communion into the world — our world. 

The Mass is meant to be a taste of heaven in the middle of an otherwise difficult journey through life. Yet it is not just a light for that one hour, one day a week. It is meant to give us the help we need to live every minute of the week as a disciple of Jesus. Extending the time with Jesus in the Sacred Scriptures and growing in love with Jesus in the Eucharist are important components in the Christian way of life.

Further Resources:
Sometimes a Mass journal can help us enter more personally into the liturgy. With reflections and prompts, these aids can help dispose us to hear what God wants to say to each of us. Check out some examples of Mass Journals:

• Every Sacred Sunday Catholic Mass Journals (everysacredsunday.com)
• Mass Journal by Dynamic Catholic (www.dynamiccatholic.com)
• The Holy Mass Companion Journal, part of the Good Catholic Holy Mass series. (www.goodcatholic.com)

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