“Let me ask you one question: was it because you practiced the Law that you received the Spirit, or because you believed what was preached to you? Are you foolish enough to end in outward observances what you began in the Spirit?” (Gal 3:2-3)
After years and years of my making Mass a daily habit, God recently challenged me to not attend daily Mass for a week. I was shocked by that invitation, and couldn’t fathom why He would make such a request.
He then asked me further what the essence of Mass is. I replied that it is to encounter His real Presence and receive Him in the flesh. He then probed further: how have I been living out the concluding words of the priest, sending us forth on mission to bring His real Presence out into the world and allowing people to experience Him in the flesh through me? Have I been living out the true spirit and essence of Mass, if I don’t continue the Mass in my daily life and bring it out into the world through my own words, actions and presence?
At that, I soon realized what God was getting me to do. By not focusing on spending that half hour ‘ticking a box’ as an “outward observance”, I was challenged to spend the rest of the day focusing on celebrating the Mass wherever I go and with whomever I meet, whether over a meal or over a casual conversation; to embody the spirit and essence of the Mass by sharing the Word of God through the sharing of my life as well as to bring the Eucharistic presence of Christ to the people with whom I interact, through remaining present and loving towards them.
Personally, it can be so easy to treat Mass or any other devotion or prayer ritual as an ‘external observance’ without living out the true spirit of it. So easy to carry out these observances out of obligation, guilt, fear, or even because ‘it’s good for me’, without fully approaching it in the right spirit of service to others and mission to the world. Perhaps this is a good reminder for us not to limit the Mass or any ritual to be observed within the Church, but more so to be lived out in the world, as led by the Spirit, even if it’s over a plate of spaghetti.
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