Reframing The Mass

The way we experience many moments in life, both the mundane and the exceptional, frames our response to them. Whether we perceive something as a “good time” or an unpleasant one likely has more to do with equal parts our own frame of mind and the tone of the those with whom we undergo a given moment, than with the content of that moment.

To use an analogy, a dining experience may be distasteful to us solely because of one detail or another, which might not directly pertain to the actual flavor of the food. That is, the food was not objectively any worse, but the experience surrounding the food caused us to have negative feelings about the meal.

This is a comparison to the way some react to the Mass. Unfortunately, the subjective or personal experience does a grave disservice to the objective reality of what the Mass is through the invisible spiritual reality that surrounds us there.

There are volumes upon volumes written on the subject of the Mass, its realities, its blessings and graces, and how to transform those experiences to shed light on the riches of faith that are available in that great celebration. Here, however, I’ll try to very succinctly reframe an understanding of the Mass to put forward a different facet that may enable some to catch a glimmer of the bejeweled treasure we are invited to behold.

Take a deep breath, this water gets deep fast…

Because of sin and our limited, fallen, human nature, we struggle in every way to find truly common ground with God. The fact is we are very much incapable of finding that common ground, and so God reveals it to us in the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the common ground, a pathway to the heart of God, by virtue of his Incarnation. Taking flesh by the Virgin Mary, Christ Jesus has now eternally bound to his divine nature the human nature we find so troublesome. However, it is not troublesome to him, for Jesus redeems human nature in and through his own life.

The Mass, then, is the memorial and nuptial banquet of heaven, taking the earthly for a bride. The Crucifixion and, through it, the Institution of the Eucharist as the supper of his own body and blood, soul and divinity is the offering of Christ to God the Father. Jesus offers a sacrifice to God—himself, his own being, whole and entire.

Out of his inestimable love, Christ has invited us to that same offering banquet. He has invited us to attend, as often as we may, this sacrificial meal that is the worship Jesus offers the Father. Yes, the Crucifixion is Jesus’s worship offered to God. The same Jesus Christ, who has bound all of humanity—and you and me personally—to himself mystically, completely, and eternally, is offering himself as an act of worship. That means that all of us, are being offered to God in worship by Jesus, the Savior and Lord.

Therefore, we who attend are called to offer our very being, our whole existence, to God in concert with Christ. Make no mistake, we are being offered to God in that one Crucifixion, and by extension, in every Mass everywhere and at every time. The Church, the mystical Body of Christ, places us before our heavenly Father, always and everywhere. Let us then seek to participate in that mystery, reframing any unmet expectations, disappointments, and qualms we may have with the experience of the Mass, because it is the surest, straightest, safest path to the heart of God.

David Dunst
Director of Music and Liturgy

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