We go to Mass every Sunday to fulfill our obligation as Catholic, pre-denominational Christians. This may be something which has become a monotonous routine for the faithful. Sure, we sing, we sit down, we kneel and that sort of stuff.
We receive communion, pray silently and then wait for the priest to proclaim, “The Mass has ended, go in peace,” or “Ite, Missa est,” and we don’t even stay to sing the Salve Regina (which is neither the Dominican version nor the Benedictine) or any other exit hymn—we just walk out and pretend that nothing ever happened—that it was just another Mass, just like any other form of common Christian worship—boring, unlike the Pentecostal Church services with all the singing and the dancing (and the mumbling).
But then, a miracle has happened that day!
This miracle is the transformation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ—and I bet you know that. We often say, “Yeah sure. I believe in that stuff as a Catholic since Christ said that blah, blah, blah,” and just leave it at that, without even grasping it. We often get obsessed with miracles such as the statue of the Virgin Mary crying or the image of the Child Jesus turning to life. But we forget that the most authentic of all miracles is—as a matter of fact—the Holy Eucharist.
Just imagine how seemingly normal mediums could turn into something divine! Every time we receive communion, the material and the spiritual realms meet; the Lord enters our body to sanctify us with His saving grace. How on earth could the almighty God enter a body of a sinner? The sanest reaction for a person would be to scream at the very concept of the creator of the universe entering our sinful bodies.
Who could understand such concept? Like the Trinity, the Real Presence remains a mystery, yet Christ, who instituted the sacrament Himself, proclaimed that the bread and wine turns into His body, and we witness this during consecration.
If we truly perceive the Holy Eucharist as miraculous, then from the moment we see the beautiful façade of a certain church or chapel; upon entering it and seeing the tabernacle, we prostrate in because inside that small golden box is the most genuine of all miracles. We cannot help but shed tears at singing hymns and chants asking for the Lord’s mercy, proclaiming His greatness and how holy He is, listening to His word, asserting the orthodox faith, and kneeling down before Him.
We cannot help but be awestruck at the ineffable idea of how the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ is reenacted during the Mass, specifically during the offertory and the consecration of the Holy Eucharist.
And we cannot help but shed tears over this:
Sinful as we are, we proclaim out loud along with the congregation,
“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof; but say the word and my soul shall be healed,”
… before moving towards the Communion rail to kneel down in front of the Lord who is held by the priest—the alter-Christus and His humble servant—who places the Lord on our tongues (in a lot of cases, our hands!) while Panis Angelicus—a very beautiful Eucharistic hymn—is being sung by the cantors. The miracle has happened and that miracle is in us (as well as in others), and it sanctifies us; to make us saints in spite of our poor, filthy selves.
I fail to understand why we have people leaving the Church and the beauty of the Roman Catholic Mass or the Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgy behind, for some denomination that meet every week or every month to listen to stories or fiery sermons of random people on stage, while proclaiming the glory of God without singing the Gloria or the Anima Christi—replacing them with contemporary Gospel music.
I also fail to understand how many would turn the miraculous worship into this:
You see, the egocentric nature of man (pardon me for being mean) tends to undermine this miracle. We tend to turn the beautiful into something which is convenient for us. I understand that people wish to make the Mass or worship into something lively or “timely,” but the Holy Eucharist was not instituted by Christ for the worship of man. We tend to ditch the beauty of the Extraordinary Form or the dignity of the Ordinary Form to satisfy our own standards.
It only takes an hour for the celebration of the Pauline Mass and an hour and a half for the Tridentine Mass—once a week. Within that span of time, we witness the miracle; we see the Lord before our eyes and we receive Him in Holy Communion. No amount of charismatic singing and dancing or clowning around (pun intended) could ever be at par with it.
Henceforth, we are all in good hands: We have the privilege of witnessing this miracle which Christ Himself handed down unto us in the beauty of the Liturgy, and we should be happy with that.
Coincidentally, fellow contributor Brent Stubbs also wrote on the Liturgy before me on this same day. Read his post here.