What is Mass?: A Resurrection Celebration

Why did we switch the “Sabbath” from Saturday to Sunday?

Think of it this way, when your school wins a championship you want to celebrate it, right? To remember the celebration of victory you usually get a banner that is placed in a notable place like the school gym. That is what happened with the Church. To celebrate the victory of Jesus over death in His resurrection the early Church had to have a “banner” to indicate this special day and it is Sunday.

The youth Catechism, the YOU CAT, gives a great teaching about this:

“Christians replaced the celebration of the Sabbath with the celebration of Sunday because Jesus Christ rose from the dead on a Sunday. The “Lord’s Day” however, does include elements of the Sabbath.” (#364).

It was important for Christians to have their own special day to celebrate the “Lord’s Day” as a way to distinguish them from the Jews.

Think about that each Sunday when you attend Mass! You are waving the banner of victory of the Lord and for the Lord. That’s something to be proud of.

What does the Mass have to do with the Resurrection, besides being on the same day of the week, Sunday?

The connection of the Mass and the celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord are all part of a bigger picture. Just like in sports there are sequences of events in a game. The game begins, has parts to it (like quarters or halves) and it has an ending when the time runs out and there’s a winner.

The Mass is a celebration of the Last Supper but also of the Paschal Mystery, which has two parts. Those parts are the Passion (suffering of the Lord) and Death; and Resurrection of the Lord. The Resurrection is the victory for us as followers of Jesus. The Mass ties these together to give us a complete game plan for our faith.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church in its glossary says:

“The Eucharist or principal sacramental celebration of the Church, established by Jesus at the Last Supper, in which the mystery of our salvation through participation in the sacrificial death and glorious resurrection of Christ is renewed and accomplished. The Mass renews the paschal sacrifice of Christ as the sacrifice offered by the Church. It is called 'Mass' (from the Latin missa) because of the 'mission' or 'sending' with which the liturgical celebration concludes (Latin: 'Ite, Missa est.') (1332; cf. 1088, 1382, 2192). “

We always need to keep in mind that the Second Vatican Council taught that the Mass is the “source and summit” of our faith and this is so because it is our encounter with the risen Christ Himself. Keep in mind that the Mass is called the 'unbloody sacrifice' of the Lord because the Jesus that we receive in Holy Communion is the resurrected Lord.

In the Eucharistic Prayers as well we remember Christ's Resurrection. For example, in Eucharistic Prayer I, it says: “Therefore, O Lord, as we celebrate the memorial of the blessed Passion, the Resurrection from the dead, and the glorious Ascension into heaven of Christ’Ìâ‰âÂÌâ_

Thank God the Church makes it clear to us the connection of the Mass with the Resurrection. What a gift!

How does that effect me? How can I live out the Resurrection celebration in my daily life?

Since the Mass has as an important aspect of celebrating the Resurrection, it should effect your daily lives. Catholics are often called an 'Easter people.' That means since we live in the victory Christ won for us, we can celebrate it all the time, not just at Mass!

In Romans 8:17 we read “This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It is adventurously expectant.” This is exciting stuff! So how do you live it? Remember it is a gift we receive from God, therefore, we have to accept the gift. And to accept the gift we have to believe in it.

Here are two suggestions to live out the Resurrection:

  1. Learn to surrender to the Lord. That means that you surrender your ways so that you can take up the ways of Jesus. When you give up something that’s when you can let God be in charge in your life. When you give then you can receive. Try it and see how different you will be.
  2. Learn to serve. Since we have all been given specific gifts of the Holy Spirit that means we that we have to use them. We know that the Holy Spirit dwells in us from the time of our Baptism. Ask God what He is calling you to do to serve your parents and your classmates for example. Do not hold these gifts to yourself. Do not delay using them now. You each have gifts, use them. You will experience more happiness than you can imagine.

It takes a decision to live this way. If you don’t want to be just mediocre, take the steps necessary today to live a resurrection life. It’s sure to be an adventure, as St. Paul said.

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