Revive Alive - The Eucharistic Revival in the Diocese of Colorado Springs
Welcome to the second installation of Revive Alive, a series of teaching and reflection on the Eucharistic Revival in the Diocese of Colorado Springs. In addition to the monthly feature on Reclaiming Sunday as the Lord’s Day, these reflections are intended to offer some thoughts on the gift of the Eucharist and how we can embrace this life-giving gift as disciples of Jesus Christ. God wants to renew us and his Church through the Eucharist. Hopefully these will be of some help!
When Jesus established the memorial of his Passover in the Eucharist, he told us to do this “in memory of him.” This command, like the other teachings and commands of the Lord, defines the life of a Christian. As disciples we take on the “discipline” of a Christian way of life. The Eucharist is unquestionably the most important encounter in the life of a Christian disciple. We are called to celebrate the “Lord’s Supper” with the Church. We are expected to do this every Sunday, the Lord’s Day. In the early Church, there was no need to formally oblige Catholics to attend the Mass because it was such an essential part of the life of a Christian. It was only because of “the half-heartedness or negligence of some that the Church had to make explicit the duty to attend Sunday Mass” (“Dies Domini,” 47). The Mass is an essential part of the life of a Christian because in the Eucharistic liturgy itself the mystery of salvation is accomplished.
The Eucharist is the Source and Summit of the Christian life (CCC 1324). It makes the People of God and joins us together in communion with the divine life. The Mass makes present in a mystical way the self-giving sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary every time it is celebrated. There is no prayer more powerful or as pleasing to God the Father than that of the Mass because it is Jesus’ own prayer. As St. John Vianney said, “All the good works in the world are not equal to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because they are the works of men — but the Mass is the work of God. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison for it is but the sacrifice of man to God — but the Mass is the sacrifice of God for man.” It is impossible to overstate how important and necessary the Mass is.
Every Sunday, the Lord calls us together as his children to receive the powerful graces he wants to give us at the Mass. (If we do not look for God’s blessings there, where else would we look?!) As he gathers us, we respond by being gathered together for this sacred ritual. Far above any ordinary get-together of people, the Mass is a religious ceremony that implies a special way of behaving, of dressing, of speaking, of thinking. God reaches out to us through the prayers of the Church and the words of Scripture. We respond to this with our hearts, minds, and voices. Our active participation is a deeply spiritual thing. Especially by allowing moments of silence where we can listen for the Lord’s voice in our hearts.
Every moment of the Mass is significant, communicating a divine truth. A beautiful and reverent liturgy can help draw us into that holy encounter with God. We should be cautious of anything that draws attention to itself and away from the Sacred Mysteries. Everything about Mass, the music, architecture, gestures, homily, servers, lay participation, should point to and emphasize the Divine Presence of God. Yes, even in the simplest Mass, the Lord speaks to us. But let us not make it harder to hear his voice! The Mass is THE Memorial of Jesus’ sacrifice. It has the power to communicate to us the most extraordinary grace. It is worth preparing well for so that we are best disposed to receive such a gift!
It is worth taking the time to educate ourselves on what the Mass is and why it is so important. Catholics have seen declining numbers in Mass attendance for many years. This is a real tragedy. So many people are missing out on the greatest gift God has ever (and will ever) give to humanity: communion with his only begotten Son. As St. John Vianney said, “If we really understood the Mass, we would die of joy.”
Next month, we will take a brief look at the two parts of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, as well as what we mean when we say “Mass.”
FOR FURTHER READING
• “The Lamb’s Supper” by Dr. Scott Hahn (stpaulcenter.com)
• “Eucharist” by Bishop Robert Barron (wordonfire.org)
• “A Biblical Walk Through the Mass” study by Dr. Edward Sri, Ascension Press. (ascensionpress.com)