CATHOLIC DIALOGUE #14
(Jane and John have just finished dinner. It is time for them to continue their discussion about the Mass that they started earlier.)
John: Okay Jane. Now can we get back to our conversation from before dinner? I want to know more about the Mass. I'm curious.
Jane: Hmmm. I wonder if you're curious or hungry.
John: What? Hungry? What do you mean? We just ate.
Jane: Never mind for now. Let's see. I told you about the readings, the Homily, and the Creed right?
Jane: Before I go on, I need to explain a little more about the sacrifice. To sacrifice something is to make it sacred. That is to say, not for ourselves. Offered to God. the Jews in the old Testament were shepherds. They offered a lamb to represent themselves through their work. At Mass, we offer, through the priest, the Son of God. When we say, "May the Lord accept the sacrifice...." We are praying that God will accept our sacrifice.
John: I'm impressed.
Jane: The very next thing we do is sing the "Holy, Holy" in which we praise God. Next comes the consecration which includes a scriptural narrative of the last supper. We say, "Through Him, with Him, and in Him. All glory and honor is Yours almighty Father forever." This shows that only through Christ can we offer worthy praise and honor to God.
John: Wow. You guys have really thought this out. Haven't you?
Jane: We've been working on it for 2000 years. Our beliefs and practices are the combined product of some of the greatest minds in history.
John: That sounds pretty impressive. What comes next?
Jane: Next we say the Lord's Prayer. It is the "perfect prayer" that was given to us by Jesus Himself. We follow this with a handshake that is sometimes called the kiss of peace. Next the priest breaks off a piece of the Host and drops it into the cup to symbolize Christ's Body and Blood permanently united. Following this, the people say, "Lord I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word and my soul will be healed." By this we demonstrate humility and faith that Jesus can heal our soul.
John: That's really beautiful.
Jane: When we receive Communion, the priest says, "The Body (Blood) of Christ." Our response to this is Amen which means "So be it". This signifies our belief and ratification. We conclude our Mass with a final blessing and the dismissal, "The Mass is over. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord." Believe it or not, this is where we got the word Mass from.
John: How did you get the name from that?
Jane: It comes from the Latin Mass. The people knew it was over when they heard the word "Missa" so they started calling the whole thing Mass. Now that you understand it better, what do you think?
John: Well frankly, I don't know what to say. There seems to be so much to it that I'm sure it will take a while to digest.
Jane: So much?! I've just barely scratched the surface John. That was just an outline.
John: Wow! Well can you answer one more question for me?
John: Well, if your Mass is so beautiful. Why do some people leave before it's over? I mean, I am no Catholic, but now that you've explained the Mass and tell me that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, I'm confused. Why would anyone want to leave early. Don't they enjoy spending time with the Lord?
Jane: You are absolutely right John. I'm sorry, but I don't have a good answer to that question. It could be because they don't really believe that Jesus is truly present. Sometimes I think the reason is because they don't fully understand the Mass. I mean you can't really appreciate it unless you understand it's significance.
John: That's a pity. They don't know what they're missing. Thank you for explaining it to me Jane. I know that I will appreciate Mass much better next week.
Jane: Next week?
John: Yes. I mean, that is if you'll take me with you again.
Jane: My pleasure. I'm glad you want to go again. I think in time you could develop a real love for the Mass.
John: Well if I do, It will be partially because you provided such a great foundation for understanding. Thank you Jane.
Jane: Thank you John.
John: What are you thanking me for?
Jane: Well, Pope John Paul II said, "Faith is strengthened when it is given to others." Thanks for letting me share my faith with you John.
John: Jane, let's go get some movies.
Jane: Okay. Hey John, do you want to know one more positive result of regular Mass attendance?
John: There's more? What is it?
Jane: Well, a recent survey showed that people who don't attend Mass regularly have a 20% greater chance of heart disease. So it would seem that Mass is not only a great thing for us spiritually, but it also keeps us physically healthy.
John: Probably due to all that standing, kneeling, and sitting. It was a workout. You should call it Catholic aerobics.
Jane: Let's go get those movies. It's getting late John.