Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Mass: Heaven on Earth

“I'm trying to ‘come back’ to the Church at the urging of some dear friends, but it is so hard for me to go to Mass. All I hear about there is death, suffering, blood, hell, and more death. You don't go 2 minutes in Mass without hearing about something dark. I have enough depression in my life, and Mass is just more of it, at least for me.”

To this blogger, we say, welcome back! We are very glad that you have come back to the Church and come to this site. We are very sorry that it is so hard for you to come to Mass and that you “have enough depression” in your life. We ask that you peruse this site more thoroughly, if you haven’t already. There are many uplifting comments and insights that bloggers make here on a regular basis. It’s really quite amazing!

In no way am I trying to discount your experience at Mass. I have talked with people who have had similar experiences when they come to the Church, mainly because they bring such sadness with them when they arrive. And, if the Mass is not properly celebrated as the Church intends (e.g., a joyless celebrant; deviation from the rubrics), then I can understand even more of someone having a negative experience there.

But, can I ask you to try and hear objectively a few of the beautiful and uplifting words and phrases that are heard at every Mass?

The grace and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all”. These words are said right away at Mass, right after we make the sign of the Cross. Grace and peace are two words that we hear repeatedly throughout the Mass. It’s what we are all looking for!

May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life”. Again, these words are said by the priest at the beginning of Mass. Mercy and everlasting life are two more main themes of the Catholic Mass. Also, if we understand that sin (either our sin or the sin of others) is the leading cause of depression, then we understand that the forgiveness of our sins is the leading cure to depression. The theme of forgiveness is dominant in the readings that we hear at Mass and in Sacred Scripture in general.

Take this all of you and eat it. This is my body which will be given up for you”. In my opinion, these are the most uplifting and powerful words that have ever been spoken on the face of the earth. Jesus gives us food to eat – always a positive thing! And, more significantly, this food is his body! God gives himself to us!! The Eucharist is not only a visible sign that God loves us and is with us, it is God’s love and mercy in the flesh. When we receive the Eucharist, we receive eternal life. Heaven on Earth!! This is the most positive and uplifting experience we can ever have in this world. It is union with God and all that He is – love, mercy, goodness, beauty, joy, peace, kindness, etc.

So, Anon, I would ask you to specifically focus on the Eucharist the next time you go to Mass. Maybe even hit a daily Mass during Lent. Also, it might be good to prepare for Mass by reading John 6 in which Jesus teaches about the Eucharist. He teaches there that “I am the bread of life” and “the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world”. Christ is the life of the world. Everything we are looking for is found in Christ. What we receive at Mass is what we are all looking for because what we receive at Mass is Christ, specifically in the Eucharist. We receive his grace and peace and are sent out from Mass to “go in the peace of Christ”.


At 11:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In forgiveness, the seven times seven thing really throws me. After so many times of forgiving the same people for the same things, I wonder what I am doing. I’m not talking about enabling here. There are people who do not see/understand (maybe even care) that their actions were hurtful and wrong, and, in some cases, evil, and they have not asked for my forgiveness. But forgiving them is necessary for me to do- I clearly understand this. Some days, I wonder where to begin- am I to forgive each and every act of hurt and betrayal? Or- am I to forgive the weakness in their characters that cause them to make the choices they do? I keep going back to that “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” I think that should be enough for me- to forgive them for they don’t seem to “know” what they’ve done. So, why isn’t it enough?

At 12:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There have been many times when I have gone into the church and cried for the sadness of things in my life. It does seem an appropriate place to do that, for me, anyway. But there have been things that have changed the “depression” in my life that are direct results of the Mass- there is absolutely NO question in my mind. I used to be blind to the presence of Christ in the Mass- the Real Presence. I think it took me a while to see Him there because I knew it meant I would need to change. My sadness and depression had become excuses for me (and I’m not suggesting it is the same for anyone else!!) and accepting the beauty in His suffering required that I be willing to accept my relatively small sufferings when His sacrifice was so great.

As with most things in life, we often do find what it is we are seeking- we just need to be honest with ourselves about what that truly is.

At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’ve been thinking about the person who posted about having “enough depression” in life.

Often, it is the depression- suffering, sadness, despair (whatever one wants to call it) that turns people to God. I think most people have a need to connect with something other than their brokenness. Some will do destructive things to avoid their pain, while others will turn to God and face it head on. Christianity teaches us much about suffering. Our Catholic faith talks about the beauty in it. Whatever one’s take on it is, being “depressed” is a sign that we’re human.

If you read FG’s Adoration reflection, he talks about “dumping your crap.” To me, that’s something that’s been restorative- emotionally, spiritually, mentally. The Church offers a safe place to do that. So, if you are feeling “depressed,” try Adoration. Let that be your “dumping ground” and then, I promise (I know this personally) you will experience the Mass differently.

The plain truth is that we all suffer, but we don’t all grow as the result of having experienced it. Many of us make it our quiet, constant companion and never make any changes. If you allow Him to, spending time with Christ will change you- whether you suffer along with Him or He takes away your suffering- either way, you will have change in your life.


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