May 15, 2013
By Father William Muench
For us Catholics, important occasions happen with Mass.
This comes to mind this month with its many celebrations – First Communion, Confirmation, graduations and award ceremonies. The Mass is truly important and foundational for us. Each week, when each parish joins together to be parish and to pray together, we gather around the altar of the Lord at Mass.
The Sunday Mass is a precious moment in the life of a parish. Each week, the pastor has the opportunity to join with his people to pray and unite spiritually with the Lord to leads his parish.
To make a parish all that it should be, the parish must find spirit and power and strength and meaning – a spirit that can only come from the Lord. We Catholics, find our power and spirit in the Mass and the Sacrament of the Blessed Eucharist.
The Sunday Mass is about a parish finding the Lord Jesus. However, the parish must take this presence and life of Jesus out into their world and homes. The danger will always be that many leave Jesus in the Church.
As the people of a parish enters their parish Church for Sunday Mass – together as a family preparing to meet the Lord – they must leave their cares, their anxieties, their problems at the door of the Church. All these distractions must stay at the door – yes, they will be there as we leave from Mass.
Now we must be ready – strengthened and blessed by the Lord – to deal better with all of our challenges.
Every year, at Easter time, one of the familiar Gospel readings is the Emmaus story – Luke 24. Two disciples – some say a married couple – a husband and wife are walking home from Jerusalem to their home in Emmaus.
They are disappointed, even depressed. Jesus has been crucified. The Risen Lord comes along and walks with them. However, they do not recognize him. They explain their sadness. Jesus, still unrecognized, demonstrates to them from the Scriptures that the Messiah must suffer.
When they arrive at Emmaus, Jesus joins them for a meal. Luke tells us that they recognize Jesus in the “breaking of the bread.”
The Emmaus story is our story each time we join for Sunday Mass. We listen to the story of our faith as we listen to the Sacred Scriptures. The pastor then teaches the people of his parish and challenges each one of them to be parish, to do something special to make the parish a better place – and in this way to make their world a better place.
Then we do Eucharist. The bread and wine are placed on the altar. In that Offertory we are invited to place our hopes and dreams, our cares and concerns on that altar with the bread and wine. We place ourselves, our loved ones and all that we are concerned about on that altar so that, with the bread and wine, they are consecrated by the priest given this power in ordination.
We believe that the bread and wine become for us the Body and Blood of Jesus, Our Lord and Savior. In this consecration, all that we are and all that we have placed on this altar is blessed and consecrated in a special way by the Lord.
Then, in Holy Communion, Jesus, Our Savior, truly present, unites himself with each of us in such a spectacular way so that we may take the Lord into the challenges of our life with his power and strength and love.
With Jesus, we can bring new vigor into all that we do – and make things better.
The Sunday Mass is the most important moment in the life of any parish. It is so important for all in a parish to join in this Sunday worship each week. It is a pattern that gives a parish unity and a readiness to accomplish all that must be done.
Only in this way, will a Catholic parish be the moving force in transforming their parish, their town constantly – making it a holier, more alive place.
The parish must bring the spirit and love and teachings of Jesus to all in this place, a challenge that can only happen for a parish that joins together each week at the Sunday Mass.
So we Catholics must make the Sunday Mass a necessary and important part of each family’s life in the parish – uniting all in the life of the parish.