It has been 55 days now since I have presided at Mass. I haven’t been prohibited from saying Mass, I just have not felt capable of doing it. I have gone to Mass and been a member of the congregation/assembly and I have concelebrated 3 times. But I have not been the celebrant. While I have missed it, this has been a grace for me as well.
Sitting in the congregation for a significant time now has helped me to see things a little different than from my typical, 35 years, point of view. One of the things that has struck me is the structure of the liturgy. First of all we gather together. We come from many different places and gather in this one place to praise and worship God. Then we ask Gods mercy, and acknowledge we are sinners in need of God’s forgiveness. We then listen to God’s word to us from both the Old and New Testament. Then we move into the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This part starts with a dialogue;
Priest: “The Lord be with you.”
Response: “And with your spirit.”
Priest: “Life up your hearts.”
Response: “We lift them up to the Lord.”
Priest: “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.”
Response: “It is right and just.”
This dialogue is what caught my attention one day and it still has it. I have typically been saying the priest part for many years and so having this view from the pew has awakened me to something new. In this dialogue we are acknowledging each other and inviting each other to give ourselves to God in word, action and spirit. Then the phrase that now has my attention in a new way is, “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God”. We have all heard from children, teenagers and even adults and maybe felt it ourselves, “Mass bores me”. We also know that many do not attend Mass with any regularity because of boredom, sports, busyness or any number of reasons. What I have heard that is new in this phrase, it is a summary statement of the entire Eucharist. It is the primary reason we are here, to give thanks to the Lord our God, and there are many who don’t have or recognize that need. It is a beckoning to us and within us to be grateful to God and for all He has done for us. There are many who don’t have that need recognize or what God has done for them, is doing for them or wants to do for them. There are many who take the gift of God for granted or simply forget. If we did that with any relationship in our lives it would end of that relationship. Many of us have probably experienced this. When we do that in this relationship with God it may end from our perspective but it will never end from His. He doesn’t know how to stop loving us. “Let us give thanks to the Lord!”
Celebrating the liturgy/Mass helps us remember. We need it because it is so easy to forget.