“He has no need, as did the high priests, to offer sacrifice day after day, he did that once for all when he offered himself.” Well, the natural question might be, then, “what in the world are we doing here offering a sacrifice?
It continues to be offered because the curtain has not dropped on this world.
Assertion 1: we live in this strange in between time. If the world had ended on Easter Sunday, that would have made sense to me. Christ resurrects, and that’s the ball game folks.
And yet it didn’t end. We go on. We’re still here.
And this world in which we wait has been mapped out, engineered, measured, and digitized and quantified. Your phone tells you your destination is .9 miles on the left. We know the chemistry that is behind everything. The northern lights are solar winds hitting our atmosphere at the right angle. We have mapped out space and the orbits of the planets. We know the weather coming our way – we tell ourselves we have subdued the earth. To a dangerous extent, we believe we are in control
We tell ourselves that we live in a world that has no room for magic nor the unexplainable
But that is a lie.
The “Fear of the Lord” that we hear about in the first reading is a sort of awe toward God – a belief that God is in control, and if God is in control, then we are not, and if we are not, then the mapping of our world is not definitive. There ARE, then, things that we can’t explain and there are things that we can’t control
As Catholics, as I preached on All Saints Day, seeking God, seeking that relationship with Jesus is something we are called to do. And at the same time, one of our most important aspects of our Faith as Catholics is, when really lived, it reminds us about the magical and enchanted nature of the world around us. We call priests to have them whisper prayers of forgiveness over dying loved ones because we believe it forgives them their sins. We believe that bread and wine become God. We believe we have angels watching over us, that we can befriend dead saints from ages past, that we are tempted by demons, that pouring water on someone while saying the right prayer makes a person a son or daughter of God. We believe that priests can, through prayers, drive out demons. We have Masses in cemeteries, we have statues that weep, saints that bleed with the wounds of Christ, and believe the Blessed Mother has definitively appeared to people as the sun danced in the sky – to be Catholic is to believe that there is magic in the world. Awe. Surprise. Mystery.
But this…the Mass…is the source and summit of everything we do. It is a participation in the one sacrifice of Christ. And so we surround it with incense, music, architecture, vestments, beauty, Scripture, and silence
So, then, what about the protest – “Father, that all sounds nice, but I find Mass really boring.”
Here’s what G.K. Chesterton, the great convert to Catholicism said on the subject, and I think this is really important. ““Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. [UNCLE JOHN]
…For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
I would say, then, that if we are bored at Mass, then perhaps that is an indictment on us. I think to whatever extent I may find myself bored at some particular Mass it is on me, and not something I can blame God for. Something I need to examine my conscience about, not walk away from Catholicism over. Perhaps it is my fault. Something I need to change.
Perhaps those who say they are bored at Mass are also people who say they get bored with their spouse – the same old thing every day
Perhaps those who say they are bored at Mass are also people prone to saying they are bored with their job. Another day. Another pay check. Nothing interesting happening here today
Perhaps those who say they are bored at Mass are also people who are bored with their same old kids. Another day.
Perhaps those who say they are bored at Mass are like some of my DePauw students, who literally have some of the best food in the world – I promise you’ve never seen anything quite like the food at DePauw – I would have been 500 pounds if I ate in their dining room in college – every food of every variety is there and it is all absolutely amazing – and some of them complain that it is always the same.
If you really despise Mass or find it repetitive, are you that way with other things too?
Would you appreciate your spouse, your children, your food, your job, would you appreciate them more if they were taken away?
We come here for Mass tonight/today – probably close to the 7,000th of my life and close to the 5,000th of my priesthood – Christ HAS offered himself once perfectly, but the curtain hasn’t dropped on this world just yet.
Perhaps you struggle in the (quote) “awe of God” department. Whatever in your life is telling you things are every boring or free of magic and power and infinity, get rid of it.
Jesus tells us that a key to our salvation is becoming like little children. In participating in this, the one sacrifice of Christ, may we, like children, cry out, over and over, until we depart this world forever – “DO IT AGAIN!”
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