What generally happens at Mass?
Before we break down the Mass into its parts, perhaps it will help if we understand what generally happens to us at Mass.
In the Mass we hear the word of God proclaimed. This happens during the Liturgy of the Word. When we hear the word of God, we come to know him. In every kind of relationship entering into a deeper knowledge of the person is the foundation of that relationship. In the same way, a knowledge of Sacred Scripture lies at the foundation of entering a deeper relationship with Him. The more we know Him, the better we come to love Him, and the better we love Him, the closer we follow Him.
In the Mass we also receive the Eucharist, the true Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in the form of bread and wine. When we receive His Body and Blood in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we receive the grace to live out the will of God in our lives. Just as we eat to get nourishment for our bodies, our souls also need nourishment to face the challenges of daily life. The Eucharist is that nourishment we need so we don’t become weary and weak to follow what God wills in our lives amidst the pressure and challenges of our life here on earth.
What we often fail to appreciate about the Mass is in the Mass we also experience becoming part of the Mystical Body of Christ that is the church. The Eucharist makes the Church (CCC 1396). The Eucharist unites us to Christ. Consequently, we become united more deeply to one another forming one body in Him. United in Christ we can carry out Christ’s mission which is the salvation of the world. This brings me to the part in the Mass when we are sent forth to the Mission to build the Kingdom of God here on earth.
The word “Mass” comes from the Latin word, “missa”, which mean dismissal and that word is derived from the word “missio” which means “mission”. God did not accomplish our salvation to keep it to ourselves. God intends us to share that good news of being saved with others so others may also come to know Christ and be redeemed. At the end of the Mass, we hear the priest-celebrant (or the deacon) sends us forth with the words: “Go forth, the Mass is ended”, or “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord”, or “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life”, or simply, “Go in peace.” These are words of dismissal sending us forth to share the very person of Jesus Christ with our friends, our family members, our co-workers, and with all the people we meet. When we respond to the dismissal “Thanks be to God”, we are not thankful that the Mass is finally over and we can go on our own ways. We thank God that God has made us part of Christ’s mission to save the world through our actions. We do well, therefore, to be mindful of the concrete things we can do for the day to make know Jesus Christ to people we will meet or encounter as we leave the Mass. Until next time!