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Rev. Mark Watson/Pastor

THE HOLY MASS

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This article is a fifth in my series of articles based on the audiences that the Pope gave on the Seven Sacraments in 2014.  I have included a reflection on the Liturgy of the Word from the Document by the American Bishops, Fulfilled in Our Hearing.

General Audience of Wednesday, February 12, 2014

 In this audience, the Pope begins with the following questions.  “How do we experience the Eucharist?  When we go to Sunday Mass, how do we live it?  Is it only a moment of celebration, an established tradition, an opportunity to find oneself or to feel justified, or is it something more?”

“The first indicator is our way of looking at or considering others.  In the Eucharist, Christ is always renewing his gift of self, which he made on the Cross.  His whole life is an act of total sharing of self out of love; thus, he loved to be with his disciples and with the people whom he had a chance to know.  This meant for him sharing in their aspirations, their problems, what stirred their soul and their life.  Now we, when participating in Holy Mass, we find ourselves with all sorts of men and women: young people, the elderly, children; poor and well-off; locals and strangers alike; people with their families and people who are alone…But the Eucharist which I celebrate, does it lead me to truly feel that they are all like brothers and sisters?  Does it increase capacity to rejoice with those who are rejoicing and cry with those who are crying?  Does it urge me to go out to the poor, the sick, the marginalized?  Does it help me to recognize in theirs the face of Jesus?  We all go to Mass because we want to share, through the Eucharist, in his passion, and in his resurrection.  But do we love, as Jesus wishes, those brothers and sisters who are the neediest?”

A second indication, a very important one, is the grace of feeling forgiven and ready to forgive.  At times someone may ask:  “Why must one go to Church, given that those who regularly participate in Holy Mass are still sinners like the others?”.  We have heard it many times!  In reality, the one celebrating the Eucharist doesn’t do so because he believes he is or wants to appear better than others, but precisely because he acknowledges that he is always in need of being accepted and reborn by the mercy of God, made flesh in Jesus Christ….We go to Mass because we are sinners and we want to receive God’s pardon, to participate in the redemption of Jesus, in his forgiveness…In the bread and in the wine which we offer and around which we gather, the gift of Christ’s body and blood is renewed for the remission of our sins.”

“A last valuable indication comes to us from the relationship between the Eucharistic Celebration and the life of our Christian communities.  We must always bear in mind that the Eucharist is not something that we make; it is not our own commemoration of what Jesus said and did.”  It is Christ who acts in the Eucharist.  The Eucharist is a gift of Christ, who makes himself present and gathers us around him, to nourish us with his Word and with his life.  The Eucharist must lead us to encounter Jesus Christ.  “Through the Eucharist, however, Christ wishes to enter into our life and permeate it with his grace, so that in every Christian community there may be coherence between liturgy and life.”

“Let us live the Eucharist with the spirit of faith, of prayer, of forgiveness, of repentance, or communal joy, of concern for the needy and for the needs of so many brothers and sisters, in the certainty that the Lord will fulfill what he has promised us: eternal life.  So be it!”

LITURGY OF THE WORD

Bible readings have been read in Christian church service from the first century.  Since 1969 there have been two readings and a Gospel reading for each liturgy.

The liturgy of the Word is made up of the readings from Sacred Scripture, the homily, the Profession of Faith, and the Prayer of the Faithful.

In the readings and in the homily God speaks to his people, opening up to them the mystery of salvation and offering them spiritual nourishment.  Christ himself is present in the midst of the faithful through his Word.

By our silence and singing, we make God’s Word our own, and we affirm our adherence to it by means of the Profession of Faith.  Finally having heard God’s Word we pour out our petitions in the Prayer of the Faithful for the needs of the entire Church and for the salvation of the whole world.

The Liturgy of the Word is to be celebrated in such a way as to promote meditation.  Listening means openness to the Lord’s voice not only in the Scriptures but in the events of our daily lives and in the experience of our brothers and sisters.

Have a blessed week!  Fr. Mark