Deep love for the Mass roots Catholic
I'm going to love Mass come Nov. 26-27. I love Mass now, of course.
I loved Mass back in 1963 when I was an altar boy and “Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam” was rolling off my tongue, although I had not a clue what it meant.
I loved Mass in the late ’60s when we had guitar Masses in the school gym – and 1,100 high school guys – yep, all guys – belted out “Sons of God, hear his holy word, gather ‘round the table of the Lord.”
And I loved it when we had “low Masses” for just our homeroom in the high school chapel and the presider invited all of us to come close around the altar to better understand what was happening at the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
So when we Catholics begin praying new words at Mass the weekend of Nov. 26-27, instead of the words we’ve prayed for more than 40 years, I’ll still love Mass.
As we are praying the new words of the Creed and we get to the word “consubstantial,” I’m probably going to still shake my head and wonder how in the world anyone thought that was a good idea. But I’ll probably get used to it.
Thinking about that change led me to consider other words we use infrequently in everyday life but all the time in prayer. We seem to be okay with asking the God to “forgive us our trespasses,” yet how many of us regularly use the word “trespass” as a synonym for sin?
But this wasn’t meant to be an exercise in apologetics on behalf of the new Roman Missal. I’ve read at least a dozen explanations of the need for the changes and just as many commentaries questioning those explanations.
Frankly, neither matter. I’ll still love Mass.
At Mass my whole person is lifted up by thoughts I don’t usually have the rest of the week, thoughts on a higher plane, a level beyond my work, my loved ones, my hobbies.
At Mass I’m challenged to be a better person than I have been. I feel as though I absorb ideas of how to follow Jesus and the ways he said we need to live. I’m challenged to reform and inspired to keep on the journey and do better.
At Mass – no matter where or who or how many people are in the pews – I feel affirmed in my choice to be part of this 2,000-year-old tradition. Note that word “choice.” Nobody is forcing me to be at church. I go because I want to, because I get something out of it.
I love Mass because when I kneel down after receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, I feel something deep inside me pushing me to imitate that Jesus in every part of my life and giving me the nourishment I need to be the person God made me to be.
I understood a lot more about loving Mass when a fact-finding tour took me to Lithuania just after the fall of the Soviet Empire.
The priests in our group presided at Mass in a hotel room in Vilnius, and we’d invited an American who had been working in Lithuania to join us. Rebecca Martin, 25, cried her eyes out during the liturgy.
“I’m sorry,” she said, drying her eyes. “I’ve been here for two and a half years. You don’t know how much it means to hear Mass in your own language after so long.”
Bob Zyskowski is associate publisher of The Catholic Spirit in Minneapolis-St. Paul.