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It is a good idea to have your Bible handy for this topic.








AN INTRODUCTION TO THE MASS



When non-Catholics encounter the Mass, often times confusion and questions arise. Some come with an open mind, others with doubt or preconceived notions. Let's review some points to make the Mass easier to understand, so it will be a positive experience for you!

Mass lasts about an hour. If you've been to other religious services before, you'll notice similarities and differences from what you've experienced. Perhaps you've attended services with Bible reading, preaching and songs. Others have attended services that have those elements, as well as a communal "Lord's Supper memorial." Historically, such features of other churches' services were taken (with changes) by various Protestants in the 16th century from the Catholic Mass. So familiar elements will be noticed at Mass, along with others that perhaps are new to you.


ARE YOU A BIBLE READER?

If you are going to a Mass for the first time, or haven't gone often or in a while, you might want to take out your Bible and read a few passages. These will help you to understand where some of the concepts and symbolism used in the Mass comes from.

First, you'll notice similarities with the ceremony (also known as: liturgy or rite) found in the Old Testament, notably the ancient Passover celebration (Ex. 12:14-20).

But you will also experience the Lord's Prayer from the New Testament and much more. Some are a bit uneasy at first with the changes in posture: the standing, kneeling and sitting. But consider the fact that Jesus Himself used these same postures in praying (Lk. 22:41), teaching (Lk. 4:16-17) and sharing His Way of Salvation (Mt. 5:1; 26:20). You will see reflections of the heavenly worship described in John's Revelations, which also use these same postures, along with words and ideas that will sound familiar at Mass (Rev. 5:6-14; 7:9-17; 8:3-4; 10:8-11; 15:1-8' 19:1-10; 21:1-8). Besides the readings from the Bible, other parts of the Mass are very Scriptural!


WHICH LANGUAGE DO YOU PREFER?

Today, in many parts of America and other nations with larger towns and cities, you may have a choice of the language the Mass is said in. Latin is still the official language of the Church, and it's a tongue which our Lord Himself heard while on earth. Many prefer the Mass in Latin for its reverence and majestic yet mysterious connection to God.

Others prefer to hear the Mass in their native or 'vernacular' (common) language. In the U.S., for instance, English is used, but Masses in Spanish, Polish, Vietnamese and other tongues can be found. In Canada, one is likely to find a Mass in French or English. You will normally find a 'missalette' available at the entry for your use in following the Mass, and participating in the common prayers once you are comfortable. For Masses in Latin, typically the English translation will be on the opposite page, so that you can know exactly what is being said. If you have the opportunity, it can help to get familiar with the missalette prior to Mass; but others prefer to simply maintain a reverent observance of all that is taking place! We want you to feel welcome!

There are those who go to Mass and 'just don't get it.' Sometimes teens who don't understand the miracle taking place are less than enthusiastic. But the Mass isn't meant to be entertainment - it is the most perfect possible worship of God, and an opportunity for the faithful to be renewed in spirit and fed on the Bread of Life! It is your openness to the working of the gifts of the Spirit, of being in the Lord's presence - that is the 'attraction.' The more you ponder and study the beauty and mystery in the Mass, and as you place yourself increasingly in the hands of our Creator and Redeemer, your appreciation and love for this Divine Liturgy will grow!


THE MASS FULFILLS SCRIPTURAL TEACHING

The heart of the Catholic concept of the Mass is that it fulfills the command of Jesus referring to the Eucharist (which means "thanksgiving", it also is known as Holy Communion and the Lord's Supper) to "Do this in remembrance of Me." (1 Cor. 11: 24).

The Mass is the most perfect prayer possible! The height of the Mass is the Consecration of bread and wine by the ordained priest, using the words that Jesus commanded His Apostles at the Last Supper. We believe this miraculously changes the bread and wine into the actual Body and Blood of Jesus Christ! This is how Jesus meant for us to fulfill this Scriptural command:"I am the living Bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this Bread will live forever; and the Bread I will give is My flesh for the life of the world." (John 6:51).

It is interesting to realize that by applying this Catholic belief, the answer to the question of Jesus' doubters in John's Gospel is also revealed "The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?" (John 6:52). Notice that unlike the occasions reported in the Gospels when Jesus clarified parables, on this occasion, He gave no 'interpretation' of His Words (see Mk. 4:34). Instead, He repeated His message over and over: "Amen, Amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you do not have life in you. Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." (John 6: 53-54).

Many non-Catholic Christians understandably value or desire a 'personal relationship with Jesus.' Consider this: there is no more intimate or personal relationship with our Lord possible on earth than to be one with Him in Communion! Since our Savior's time, the Church has believed that the consecreated Bread and Wine become the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. This tremendous outpouring of grace in this Divine Sacrament is a gift that Jesus told us is necessary to gain eternal life. So if you want to follow Jesus' teachings, and to have the closest possible relationship with Christ, that blessing can be found daily in the Masses around the world! (see Mal. 1:10-11).

We hope you will appreciate the splendor of the Mass, and can, after studying Church teaching and becoming a Catholic, join us in the Lord's Eucharistic Communion of life-saving Bread!




Related Topics in the ABCs of Faith

The Bible and the Lord's Supper

The Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist



Mary, Thy Mother, an article by Rich S, thanks for sharing it with us here!



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