Posted: 17 Jun 2013 02:30 PM PDTReverence (noun): a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe; veneration.
Reverence has always been a topic of discussion for me and a friend, especially where the Mass is concerned. I think that if it were up to us, we would do a Mass every day in Latin and ad orientem, which is when the priest faces away from the parishioners. We have this fascination with the old ways, believing that it was a more reverent way of saying the Mass. Of course, from time to time, parishes will celebrate Mass this way; it hasn’t been abolished or banned.
The reason that we want this kind of Mass is because of our idea about what it represents: that the Mass is not about you, the parishioner, but about the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ and what He has given us: the Bread of Life. I heard a homily once where the priest told us about a time when he tried to explain the Mass to a non-Catholic. He had a difficult time explaining in layman’s terms, so finally he said: “It’s Holy Thursday through Easter Sunday all wrapped in one.”
Holy Thursday was the Last Supper and the first Mass. Good Friday was the Sacrifice. Easter Sunday is the Resurrection. All of this is re-presented in the Mass. Of course, I could break down the Mass and go on and on about it, but I won’t. Instead, I ask what would it be like if we treated every Mass like we did the Sacred Triduum and Easter Sunday? Catholics turn themselves inside out over those consecutive four days, and rightly so. So what if we turned ourselves out for the one hour a week that we’re obligated to attend Mass? What if people kept Sunday mornings as reverent as they do the Triduum and Easter? What kind of transformation would that mean for our hearts?
If one truly participates in Lent, Holy Week, and finally Easter, there is definitely a feeding of the flames for our souls. But how often does the energy die down over the following weeks, like a New Year’s Resolution gone wrong? How often do we wonder, why can’t I get that energy back?
That is why the Mass is there. That is why the Apostles celebrated the Mass every day, even after Christ had left. One: he told them to. “Do this in memory of me” (Luke 22:19). Two: they knew that it was necessary for their spiritual growth and the growth of their followers. In Acts, we read about how, every day, they “broke bread” (Acts2:42).
Over the years, the order of the Mass was brushed up to give us what we have today. We first have the Liturgy of the Word, where we hear three readings from the Bible, giving us the story of redemption and God’s teachings. They give us a model of how to live our lives (John 13:15). Then we have the Liturgy of the Eucharist, where our souls are fed with the Bread of Life, and bringing grace inside of us.
If we treated every Mass we attended as if we were partaking in the Triduum again, the Mass would mean more to us. The fire in our souls would keep burning.
Also, if we were to view the Mass as something as reverent as we do the Triduum and Easter, we would prepare for it as we should. We would examine our consciences for mortal sin. We would make sure we were cleaned up and dressed appropriately. We would pray and fast some before, to allow us to reflect on what we are going to be an audience of. If we had some role to play during the Mass: choir, extraordinary minister, altar server, lector, etc, we would give nothing but our best to the task.
This has been on my mind, not only because my friend and I keep talking about it, but because I know that sometimes I do not treat the Mass as I should. I attend Daily Mass often, but the downside is that some days I am callous towards it. I have to remind myself just what exactly is going on here. I have to remind myself that this is the Triduum and Easter wrapped up in one presentation.
Then there is what comes after Mass. We step out of an anachronistic realm and into the 21st Century. We become technocrats with busy lives. We try to keep up with the one hundred and one things going on in our lives and maybe feel a little guilty after the week has gone by and we’re back in Mass the following Sunday and we realize that we haven’t given God much thought throughout the week. We think about all the times we should have said “thank you, God for this”, or “I trust you Lord, for that.”
The Triduum plays it up to remind us that we are a part of something grander than the world around us. Just as the Apostles were revived into ministry at the sight of the risen Lord, we should be as well when we come into the presence of the risen Lord within the Eucharist at Mass.