I wonder did this ever happen to you? Where you ever looking for something, searching high and low, to the left, to the right, only to discover that if you stopped, dropped your head, opened your eyes, there it is in front of you. We use phrases like, ‘it was under my very nose’, and ‘it was staring me in the face’! We often remark on how easy it is for us to miss the obvious. I have been wondering could this also be true when it comes to the hunger for soul food or spiritual nourishment? In many areas of life: financial, health and recreation, it is often said that people are not aware of the benefits or assistance that is available to them. This may well be true of us spiritually. Imagine, if you will, that there was a special magic elixir available in Dublin that could change your life. Imagine there was help available for everyone and that it gave help in every area. Imagine that this was available every day, and better still, it was available completely free of charge. There would be some rush for it. Of course there is help available, for everybody and in every area of life, but it’s not magic. In fact it is better than any magic. It is called Mass.
How did we get to the place where something so special, so beautiful, is so undervalued, so underrated? How is it the greatest prayer on the planet is now so neglected? Indeed if we are honest, the truth is that Mass is not only neglected, it is in fact increasingly disrespected. Again and again I encounter people having a full chat, doing make-up, and chewing gum during Mass. The few times I have drawn attention to this, people have been almost indignant that I should mention it. I have come to the conclusion that when this happens it is not so much, a wilful, calculated dis-respect as a genuine not knowing what is going on, an ignorance in the real sense of the word. Ignorance of the sacred is common today. I realised recently that even with people who attend Mass regularly, and feel they understand what is going on, there is actually a fair amount of ignorance, again in the purest sense of that word. So two key questions arise, why bother going to Mass, and what exactly happens when we are there? In fact these can be answered as one.
What is Mass all about?
We build community, a safe place to be with each other,
And be with God.
We quieten down,
Blood pressure falls.
We pause in the madness of our lives,
Silence is balm for our souls, though difficult to get.
We come into the church, the place built, by our parents and grandparents
Maintained and honoured for the sacred.
Moments of sadness and joy in our lives.
We say sorry to God and one another,
We promise to try and do better.
We listen to God’s Word and as it’s God’s Word we listen with our hearts as well as our heads.
We listen to the Pastor, through the power of the Holy Spirit, attempt to break the Word for us.
As a community we renew our faith.
We pray for our own needs, the needs of the Church and the world.
We pray especially for the sick and
The poor, and those who have no shelter or food.
We present ordinary simple gifts of bread and wine.
We remember the Last Supper, as Jesus asked us.
We ask the Holy Spirit to change bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus.
Christ present amongst us.
We proclaim him present in the Eucharist.
We give thanks, for Jesus, for each other, for health, for our gifts,
We pray for those who have gone to meet God before us,
We pray the prayer Jesus himself gave us, the Our Father,
Making the seven requests contained in this beautiful prayer.
We pray for peace,
We offer each other a sign of peace, in this offering we declare ourselves as
Standing against war, violence, poverty and famine.
We remind ourselves in God’s presence, and in the presence of each other, of our unworthiness,
In bringing our brokenness, our tendency to sin, to the feet of the Lord, we are
Embraced by his compassionate love.
We receive Jesus present in the Eucharist, this is the Bread that lasts forever.
We are changed by this experience, the change is gradual but profound, taking many years.
Changed to become more like him, more like Jesus, our Saviour, Messiah, Brother and Friend.
We are blessed and
Sent out to tell others about Jesus,
We are sent to be part of the work of Jesus,
To build peace,
To witness to hope,
To spread Joy,
To be workers for his Kingdom, the keystone of which is Mercy!
To think that we are involved in this Sacred action, the ongoing Sacred Story, every time we go to Mass, what better investment could we possibly make with thirty-sixty minutes of our time?