Let's be honest. Mass … it's boring, right? Growing up, that's what I thought. In grade school, we went to daily Mass, while wearing ugly, green, plaid uniforms, with an old lady playing the organ. At that point, I would rather watch paint dry.
You hide all your glorious splendor in order to be close to me … who can't handle seeing or holding all that glory. I can't believe I mean that much to you. When I receive you in the Eucharist my whole body and soul feels more peaceful. I can tell as I consume you, that your love is consuming me. I've never felt so close to anyone as I do to you in the Eucharist. And the best part is that it never gets old. You constantly are able to love me like I need, strengthen me for my day and speak personally to my heart. All I have to do is get out of bed and show up.
Hey! Did you know? Around 750 AD., at a monastery called St. Longinus, a monastic priest was having doubts about the Lord's presence in the Eucharist. One day, he was celebrating Mass and at the words of the consecration the host turned to flesh in appearance and the wine turned to blood. He quickly called the astonished congregation up to the altar to see for themselves.
I don't walk to Communion looking around anymore but I walk up the aisle toward my Bridegroom who is giving himself to me. Imagine, my God lets me hold him in my hands. I gently and deliberately place Him in my mouth. We have the most intimate conversations during those few minutes after I return to my seat and the peace that envelopes me nourishes my soul as earthly food nourishes my body.
Here in South Bend, people get pretty pumped over Notre Dame football. They dress in blue and gold, paint their faces, prepare food all night for the tailgates, even get up early. When the game starts, the crowd goes nuts! Cheers. Standing. Sitting. High fives to strangers you don't know. We are fully engaged in the event. I wonder what would happen if we participated with the same heart and passion at Mass on Sunday?
I went with Katie the next week … and then again the following week. That piece of bread had the attention of a whole auditorium of people, it had to mean something. Unknowingly I followed her to a moment with Christ that would change my life. Before Adoration, the priest described what we were about to encounter. While I was sitting there, for the first time in my life I allowed myself to be found by God. And for the first time told him where I was. I heard him speaking in His quiet voice, 'Stop looking. You are home'.
I once had a very observant teen lean over (in the middle of Mass) and ask me, 'Hey Mark, what does the 'IHS' stand for on the gold box up there?'
The gold box he was referring to was the tabernacle, where the Blessed Sacrament (Jesus, fully present in the Eucharist) is reserved. While the middle of Mass wasn't the best time to stop and give a lesson on Greek or Church history, I have to say I was proud of him for asking.
Most of us see things like I.H.S. all over our churches and sacred vessels, but don't really stop to ask what it means.
I.H.S. stands for Incarnation High School ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ_ it's the high school prep academy where Jesus went, just outside of Nazareth. Their mascot is the fightin' footwashers ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ_
Well, another new football season is under way and it got me to thinking about how the Catholic Mass can be a lot like a football game, if we look at it the right way ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ_
Many of you have probably had beautiful experiences of the Mass. You have Life Teen at your parish and with it a vibrant Youth Liturgy with good music and preaching. But what happens when we go on vacation or off to college and that dynamic celebration of Mass is nowhere to be found?