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Getting More Out of Mass

Often people say that they don't enjoy going to Mass because they don't get much out of it. If we are honest we can all probably admit that there were times when we did not want to be at Mass. To fix the problem of not getting much from Mass people either skip Mass all together or try to make it more entertaining by introducing secular realities, such as lively music, holding hands, jokes and stories that entertain, etc. But there is a reason why Mass does not always resonate with us, and once we understand what that is, we will find a better way of addressing the issue, better than secular innovations to Mass.

The reason why we find Mass difficult is because Mass belongs to a different reality than the reality that we belong to. You see, Mass is a heavenly reality, and we live in a secular or worldly reality for now. To understand Mass we have to look at the origins of it, and when we do, we will see that Mass is not a human invention, but a gift from Heaven. When John the Evangelist saw a vision of heaven, as we read about it in the book of Revelation, what exactly did he see? He sees a “Heavenly Liturgy” the Lamb of God surrounded by a countless number of saints and angels, all of them worshiping the Lamb in the words so well known to us from Mass: “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God of Hosts. Hosanna in the Highest”. When we offer Holy Mass we are not creating a separate worship of God here on earth, but rather joining in the worship that is offered to God in Heaven. The Holy Mass is not an early reality, but it is a Heavenly reality. This is why it is difficult for us to understand it at times, because while still here on earth we are not holy yet.

Mass is meant to change us, to sanctify us, and as it does we will begin to enjoy it and understand it better. St. John of the Cross has a wonderful analogy when he is trying to explain what must happen to a sinner in preparation for holiness/union with God. A log of wood, says the saint, when placed in the fire begins to spew sparks as it hisses. Dark smoke comes from the wood which is placed in the fire, as the moisture that is inside the wood is dried by the heat of the fire. This is because moisture cannot coexist with fire, the two are mutually exclusive. Before the log of wood can become one with fire and glow in union with the flame of the fire, all the moisture from the wood has to be purified, dried up. The same is true with us. We are like that log of wood, and our sins and attractions to sin are like moisture in the wood. God is like fire. If we want to be in union with God, which is what holiness is, union with God, we must allow that which is from God purify within us all that cannot coexist with God, our sins, our weaknesses, our attraction to sin. The process of purification is an uncomfortable one, but when we persevere in the discomfort that the process of being in God's presence provides, we will eventually experience oneness with God.

Fr. Wojtek Kuzma

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