The problem with the Mass is there is no problem with the mass, but that which we make. The mass is beauty itself; heaven on earth. It is where Christ offers Himself for us, once for all, in all places and times the same. At mass, heaven is not brought down to earth, but we are uplifted to heaven. The joy of mass fills our hearts and we burst forth in joyous exaltation. It is an obligation yes, but an obligation we joyfully fulfill. It is an obligation as breathing is an obligation for through it, we truly live.
There is always much talk about the mass. “It’s boring and antiquated.” “Out of touch with people today.” To such things, I can but roar…ANANTHEMA! Boring? It is Christ’s sacrifice for us! It is the culmination of history itself! In it is implicitly held the entire drama of man and even the cosmos! Antiquated? Out of touch? There has never been nor shall there ever be a more perfect act that touches each and every person for Christ does not offer Himself abstractly to “humanity”; He offers Himself to John, to Jane, to Peter, to Paul, to you, to me. In each mass is found Christ’s self giving to me and me alone. In each mass is found Christ’s self giving to you and you alone. Christ would have died for the sake of just one individual and He truly offers Himself just as He invites us —with eyes on no one else— to partake in His grace, to see His love for us, and to join Him for all eternity. Mass is perfect worship and is not an invention of man; we are not the creators of the mass, but merely the fortunate and often times foolish recipients of it. It is not ours to change and “improve” for our “improvements” are mere humanistic attempts to capture that which is heaven and drag it down to the depths of our human desires.
The mass is perfect worship of the divine. Yet always there are those who would humanize it. Some indeed do so with good intentions for they wish to make God more accessible, more attainable for their fellow man. But, I ask you, can we humans make God more attainable than He made Himself? Can we make Him more accessible? No! He has given Himself utterly and freely to us all! He cannot be more attainable than in His sacrifice for us all. Our attempts merely humanize the mass and direct our fellow man towards humans and away from God! The mass unadulterated draws us out of ourselves and into awe at God’s works. We are humbled by His power and unending love for us even though we deserve not a drop! More human inventions and “solutions” to the mass are not needed and indeed push those whom we wish to draw to God further away for they rightly reject the glorification of humanity and the sin of pride.
We must always keep the mass sacred worship of the divine and not the idolatry of human accomplishment be it our music, prose, intellect, homilies, or flashy feel good atmosphere and trendy coffee. Mankind comes seeking God, comes desiring God because we wish to be fulfilled, to be satisfied as no other thing can satisfy; we wish to have our hearts stilled and to find rest as St. Augustine so beautifully prayed.
No, the mass should not be confusing or unexplained, but doing so — explaining the mass and all its depths – doesn’t entail “dumbing” it down. The mass, like God Himself, is perfectly simple and can be fully grasped by the wisest and the simplest alike.
We use earthly things —gold, incense, chimes — not to glory in the world, in our wealth, in human art, but to give glory to God. We do not use gold for our pride, but to give back to He who gave us everything. We are corporeal beings and are of the material world. Stimulating our senses be it through the chiming of bells, the smell of incense, the shine of gold, the taste of His body and blood, even the feeling of ground beneath our knees, God draws our whole selves, body and soul, into ecstatic union with Christ. It helps the unenlightened – like myself – understand and feel God’s presence. It sparks physically what our spirit often forgets. God so loves us and so understands us that He reduces that which is immaterial to the material so that we can understand it better and participate in something that is beyond our grasp without His grace.
The mass is the most beautiful thing on earth because it is not of the earth, but of heaven. The mass is God’s sacrifice for us and His free gift of love. In itself, the mass speaks unfathomable truths and draws us closer into union with God. In bringing others to God, it is not our duty to find out what’s wrong with the mass, but to find out where we’ve replaced God with man; to find what we’ve stolen from the divine and inserted ourselves. We must remove ourselves to make way for God’s perfect love, uninhibited by humanistic guise. Then, when the divine shines through in the mass, those who disbelieve and struggle to understand will be struck by God’s beauty, truth, and goodness and be blessed with the grace of faith. Then, with all the choirs of angels and us, their fellow man, will they rise up with us as in one voice we joyfully proclaim, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”