Happy Labor Day! I hope it is time to spend with family and friends. A time to recall the work that God has done on our behalf and the work that people do every day through God’s grace to build up the kingdom and a civilization of love here on earth.
September 8th is the birthday of Mary. We all have birthdays just like the saints. We were not born full of grace, but with her help and intercession we can strive daily to be a saint. How do we make such days special and/or more meaningful in our busy world?
My priest group will be meeting together next week. 20+ years we have supported each other, prayed together and walked with each other through many transitions in life and ministry. I hope there is that group, family or friends that is there for you. As we see so many reports and news stories on the growing issue of loneliness, anxiety and depression; we know we need that network of people that are there for us. If not, turn to the Holy Spirit so you may be guided to those that can be there and you may experience God’s tenderness through others.
Next week is my first Deanery meeting back in the deanery. So looking forward, not necessarily to a meeting, but to seeing all of my brother priests and the camaraderie we can have.
Together let us look more deeply at the Mass with the help of Denis McNamara’s article “In the Form of a Sacrificial Meal” (Catechetical Review April 2023).
“‘Before His death, [Christ] instituted the rite which should at each moment perpetuate in a concrete and objective way the mystery of salvation, and transmitted to His disciples the supernatural powers for … .the rite’s real accomplishment.’ So, Christ’s proclamations ‘this is my body,’ ‘this is my blood,’ and ‘do this in memory of me’ establish the pattern of worship that will follow. And the ritual form of the Mass, while emerging from the sacrificial meal of Passover, becomes wholly new. The bread and wine now become equated with Christ’s Body and Blood, and they can be offered in sacrifice–transferred to the realm of the sacred and returned as the bearer of God’s active presence we call the Holy Eucharist. So the Mass is a ‘sacred action that man accomplished outwardly, but that Christ, through the intermediary of the priest, inwardly realizes in each one of us.’ In other words, the Mass is the way in which the saving power of God uses ritual action to apply the fruits of Christ’s salvation to his people in a visible fashion.
The notion of a rite as an action remains critically important, since the goal of participating in the sacred mysteries, as both the ancients and the Christians knew, was to initiate people into divine life rather than merely teach them about it.”
This portion takes us deeper into the Mass and what is going on visibly and invisibly. The last line also challenges us. That being at Mass initiates us into the divine. That we begin at each Mass. That the life God offers to us is always fresh. The Mass is never the same old thing each week but a new beginning. We are re-made, if we allow such graces to fill us. It reminds us also that we are never finished and just starting with each day and Mass that the Lord gives us. So may we enter these rituals, this rite of the Mass with fresh and new eyes and hearts so to see and love the life of grace, the divine life, we have been invited into.