What is Mass?

There is no admission fee or list of requirements to attend Mass in a Catholic Church. From the curious to the devout, we are all invited to encounter Jesus Christ in his Word (the Bible) and in His sacrifice on the cross for our salvation – the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The Mass is always a place of renewal: we receive the final blessing and go back to our every day lives, where the graces we receive bear fruit in ourselves, our families, and our community. At Holy Ghost Parish, we offer several Sunday Mass times, as well as daily Mass and special Masses for feast days like Christmas and Easter. We invite all to participate in the Mass with us. 

After his Resurrection, Jesus promised that he would remain with us always. (Mt. 28:20) Although Christ is present to us in many ways, Christ is most present to us in the sacrament of the Eucharist, whose sacrifice is celebrated and re-presented at every Holy Mass. 

When the disciples on the road to Emmaus met Jesus after the Resurrection, the Gospel of Luke tells us: “They knew him in the breaking of the bread.” (Luke 24:30-35) St. Luke also tells us about the early Church: “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.” (Acts 2:42) The Church still celebrates the Mass with these same elements. 

The Mass transcends place and time. 

The Book of Revelation tells us that Christ himself celebrates as high priest at the eternal “wedding feast” in heaven. (Rev. 19:6-9) The Mass is where we know Him in the breaking of the bread, where Christ is truly present to us in the Eucharist, and where we are called to participate in the eternal liturgy with him.

john-651

At the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ’s Passover, which was offered once for all, re-presented by liturgical action. It is Christ himself who offers the Eucharistic sacrifice, acting through the ministry of the priests. And it is the same Christ, really present under the species of the bread and wine, who is the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice at Mass.

Taking part in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, which is the source and summit of the whole Christian life, we offer the divine victim to God, and offer ourselves along with it.                                                                                         – Cf. Lumen Gentium 11

The elements of the Mass constitute one single act of prayer and worship:

  • The Mass includes signs in the form of sacred music and liturgical icons, especially the crucifix, which is a representation of Jesus himself on the cross. The Word in Sacred Scripture is illuminated by these sacred images, made possible by the Incarnation of the Son of God, the Word made flesh.
  • The Mass includes two primary parts, which constitute one act of thanksgiving:
    • Liturgy of the Word: the proclamation of the Word of God in Sacred Scripture
    • Liturgy of the Eucharist: consecration of the bread and wine, and participation in the liturgical banquet by receiving Christ’s Body and Blood 
    • In the consecration, the priest pronounces the words of Christ: “This is my body which will be given up for you…This is the cup of my blood…” (Cf. Mt. 26:26-28; Mk. 14:22-24; Lk. 22:19-20)
    • After the consecration, the bread and wine present the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Christ. Catholics who are in a state of grace are invited to come forward and receive Holy Communion, increasing their bond of charity with Christ and with each other in unity as the mystical Body of Christ.

eucharist-body-of-christ-church-mass-161081

Although Holy Communion is reserved for Catholics in communion with the Church, everyone can participate in the Eucharistic sacrifice and receive Christ’s blessing. “Blessed are those who are called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” (Rev. 19:9)

By receiving Holy Communion, each person represents that he or she is in communion with the Catholic Church and its teachings and is in a state of grace (free from mortal sin). That is a lot to ask of a person who is not Catholic, so we do not ask that. Instead, for those who are non-Catholics, or otherwise not in a position to receive, we invite you to come forward to receive Christ’s blessing through the priest.

Mass is celebrated every day, although Sunday, the Lord’s Day, is most important. Catholics are required to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. Each year, the liturgical calendar and its seasons unfold the mystery of Christ from his Incarnation and Nativity to his Ascension, the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and the expectation of Christ’s eventual return. 

Outside of Mass, Christ himself remains present in the sacrament of the altar, either reserved in the tabernacle or exposed in a special way during Eucharistic Adoration. “To visit the Blessed Sacrament is…a proof of gratitude, an expression of love, and a duty of adoration toward Christ our Lord.” (Pope Paul VI) At Holy Ghost Parish, we invite you to join us for Eucharistic Adoration on Thursdays from 4:30 p.m. (Exposition) to 7:30 p.m. (Benediction). There is a sign up sheet in back of church or simply show up for a Holy Hour or whatever time you wish to offer.

Further Reading:

  • A Biblical Walk Through the Mass – Dr. Edward Sri
  • The Lamb’s Supper – Dr. Scott Hahn
  • The Spirit of the Liturgy – Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI)
  • Divine Love Made Flesh – Raymond Cardinal Burke

“As we worship, so we believe, so we live.” (lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi)

book of gospels