Thursday, February 7, 2013

Yet another reason the Catholic Mass is always fundamentally the same... that it’s a family meal.

Often I hear people wonder why the Church doesn’t “get with the times”, change the format of Mass, and/or stop being so ridged. Many (sadly, not all) of these people turn around and go through the same Thanksgiving/Christmas/Easter family tradition that’s been done in their family for years; all the way down to who cuts the turkey.

Thinking of a family get-together is a great way to understand the Mass. You don’t show up at grandma’s five minutes before it’s time to eat, you sit in the living room and tell stories about the past and share thoughts about the future. In many families everyone brings a dish to share and after the meal there are farewells; dining and dashing is generally frowned upon.

When we go to church we go to meet with our Christian family. We don’t dig right into the meal; we greet each other, we read stories about our ancestors (in faith), and “father” shares some wisdom with us in the homily Finally, we talk about how everyone’s doing and what the rest of the family should be aware of (prayers of the faithful). When it’s meal-time we bring up our contribution (offertory) and very specific people have very specific roles in preparing the meal. We all eat together and afterwards bid goodbye before leaving (I’m looking at you, leave-right-after-Communion-without-a-good-reasoners).

The more we understand the Mass isn’t about entertainment or personal gratification and is about gathering as a family the more we see this is yet another reason the Mass is celebrated the way it is.

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