Monday, January 01, 2007
Living the Mass
One of the comments that was made during our New Year Retreat was that the Youth 2000 approach to working with young people is counter-intuitive. Instead of organising activities to "attract" young people, Youth 2000 puts them in contact with Christ right from the beginning. They do this through Eucharistic Adoration which begins at the start of the Retreat and continues day and night until the closing Mass. Certainly there will be many coming who don't have a clue about Christ's presence in the Blessed Sacrament, but they learn to recognise his presence through the catechesis that takes place and also through their encounter with him in prayer. The testimonies given today at the end of the Retreat showed just how effective this approach is. Over the weekend many young people had clearly moved from a 'notional' to a 'real' assent to Christ's presence in the Blessed Sacrament.
The Second Vatican Council speaks of the Eucharist as the 'source and summit' of our Christian life which implies that it has to be at the centre of our lives. It is the source of Christian life because it makes present on our altars the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. It is the summit of our Christian life because it anticipates our union with God in heaven through our communion with Christ in Holy Communion.
We have to learn to 'live' the Mass, to take hold of our lives - our prayer, our good actions, our sacrifices - and unite them to the prayer of Jesus in the Mass as he offers himself to the Father. This is what is meant by 'active participation': not performing some action, but presenting ourselves to the Father through Christ, with him, in him and in the unity brought about within the Church by the Holy Spirit. A good moment to activate this intention of bringing our lives to the Lord is when the priest turns to us and says: "Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the almighty Father".
As a consequence of this desire to identify ourselves with Christ's Sacrifice we anticipate heaven by being one with Jesus in Holy Communion, the Bread of Life, nourishment to strengthen us on our journey here on earth, and the pledge of eternal life. Sin, of course, damages our communion with God which is why - if we are conscious of grave sin - we first seek reconciliation in Confession before receiving Jesus in Holy Communion.
To 'live the Mass' means, therefore, to develop that habit of mind that discovers the supernatural importance of every single thing we do and to grow accustomed to presenting all those things to the Father whenever we particpate in the Holy Mass.