Have you ever felt as if God is speaking to you? Leading you? Directing you? That He is trying to get your attention in some way by constantly bringing to your attention a subject, item or idea? This is how I’ve felt recently with regards to the Divine Liturgy – the Catholic Mass. While my work continues on studying and creating an outline about the Divine Office (more on that another time) the Mass has come to the fore. Most likely because the Divine Liturgy and the Divine Office are so closely related and fit so neatly hand in hand. It may be to awaken me from my malaise and to remind me of what I bear witness to each time I attend Mass; to shake me from complacency that may be setting in and succumbing to what Father Richard Heilman referred to as spiritual lethargy.
It could also be that God is answering the prayer that I have prayed each day for the last three weeks, brought about by my recklessly immersing myself in and internalizing the overwhelming horrors from Syria and Iraq as I prepare for my own son’s departure into the Marine Corps. Each day I pray for Fortitude, Wisdom and Hope. That has become my mantra, and I believe God is showing me where the answers await.
“I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy, which at times has even come to be conceived of etsi Deus non daretur (as though God were not there): in that it is a matter of indifference whether or not God exists and whether or not He speaks to us and hears us.” – Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)
Lord, grant me the gifts of Fortitude, Wisdom and Hope. Make me salt, and make me light. Let me never be indifferent to Your presence in this world and in my life. Amen.
Below are two passages about the Mass from books that I am currently reading. Or finished, as I completed my journey with Christopher late last night.
The first passage is from David Athley’s Christopher. It is from an email written to the book’s protagonist by his long-time love. She is a devout and practicing Catholic. He, while Catholic, will only attend Mass and not receive Communion. Somewhat of a mystic, he refuses because he recognizes Holy Communion for what it is, and is not confident that he would be able to withstand the consuming of Christ’s body and blood, soul and divinity. It is a beautiful summation of the Mass.
The second passage is an excerpt from The Portal of the Mystery of Hope by Charles Péguy.
Despite all the damage done by sinners in the Church, the Mass is the hope of civilization.
The Mass is the pinnacle of philosophy. Our minds approach the Holy Gifts in fear of God, the beginning of wisdom. Our hearts accept the Holy Gifts in love of God, the end of wisdom.
The Divine Liturgy is the epitome of language and poetry. It is the most powerful form of drama, a play that appears to descend into tragedy, yet ends in the height of heavenly bliss.
The Mass is housed in the most glorious architecture ever constructed. Not all churches are grand, but the world has been given the supreme cathedrals to remind us of the majesty of the Maker, who appears on the altars.
The Divine Liturgy is the grand unified theory of physics. Beyond all of the quarks, multiple dimensions, and dark matter is the greatest gift to science: Transubstantiation.
The Mass is the quintessence of agriculture – the simply fruits of the earth transformed into spiritual nutrition.
The Mass is the bloodline of the best art. From icons to stained glass to mosaics to statuary to all of the variations of paintings, the Sacrifice enlivens creativity.
The Divine Liturgy is a perfect education. It is reality. We kneel. We bow. We give up our rebellions and embrace the hierarchy of the created order. We submit to every demand of Love.
The Mass gives voice to the music of angels, the chant of nine choirs and seven heavens. It culminates in the most noble act of physicality. We accept into our bodies the Creator of all flesh, in whom we live and dance and have our being.
The Mass is the most personal relationship that one can have with God.
The Mass is the most heavenly occurrence on earth, and the most viciously attacked – from within the Church and without.
The Mass has produced the humble, superhuman saints, multitudes of heroic men and women, from the beginning of the Church to the end, miracle workers from every walk of life – patrons for every holy passion.
The Divine Liturgy of Heaven gathers the most purposeful community in the world, the assembly of Communicants. Beyond the goodness of human friendship, the friends of Heaven are perfected in the Feast.
The Mass makes life worth living. It is the gateway out of our self-inflicted pain, to fully enter into the death and resurrection of Christ.
Will you, in the name of Love, become a Communicant?
I am so resplendent in my creation.
In all that happens to men and to people, and to the poor.
And even to the rich.
Who don’t want to be my creatures.
And who take refuge.
From being my servants.
In all the good and evil that man has done and undone.
(And I am above it all, because I am the master, and I do what he has undone and I undo what he has done.)
And unto the temptation to sin.
And all that happened to my son.
Because of man.
Whom I had created.
In the conception, in the birth and in the life and in the death of my son.
And in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
In every birth and in every life.
And in every death.
And in eternal life that will never end.
That will overcome all death.
I am so resplendent in my creation.
That in order really not to see me these poor people would have to be blind.
“Hear Mass daily; it will prosper the whole day. All your duties will be performed the better for it, and your soul will be stronger to bear its daily cross. The Mass is the most holy act of religion; you can do nothing that can give greater glory to God or be more profitable for your soul than to hear Mass both frequently and devoutly. It is the favorite devotion of the saints.” – St. Peter Julian Eymard