Monday, July 23, 2007

Heaven on Earth

Lately I've been coming across a so much information on the Mass; it seems the Lord is opening my eyes to the beauty of the Mass and I'm eating it up.

I grew up Catholic and we tended to go every Sunday, but I always thought the Mass was boring, although I did enjoy the songs. I knew that there was a problem when we missed it when we were traveling, but I generally didn't mind. When in college I went because I knew it was necessary, but I also missed it quite frequently, like when I "accidentally" slept in.

For several years now I've been researching the Catholic faith and with that has come, in bits and pieces, knowledge and understanding of the Mass. I learned that the Eucharist was indeed Christ Jesus and to receive him in a state of mortal sin was worse than the sin itself. I learned that we actually read the Bible at Mass, and the Mass is Biblical in nature. I know that sounds silly, but there was a time when I thought the most Biblical thing about the Mass was when we sung On Eagle's Wings.

During this time I remember thinking how I was "finding the Mass." I was learning "so much" about it and I would think there couldn't possibly be more. This past year the Lord has shown me that he was just building the foundation.

First he sent me The Lamb's Supper by Scott Hahn. I knew the Bible was read at Mass and that the Eucharistic Prayers were from the Gospels, but I had no clue how much more was. I was shocked to learn that almost the entire mass was in Revelation, although it seems On Eagle's Wings is missing...

Then the Lord sent The Mass of the Early Christians by Mike Aquilia. I love this book! While Scott Hahn's looks at the Biblical record, this book looked at the Early Christian historical records. Here is a passage from this book that especially struck me,

In the third century, the Cappadocian Bishop Firmilian spoke of regional differences in the liturgy, but also acknowledged a common core that his North African colleague, St. Cyprian, could recognize. In Egypt, St. Clement of Alexandria referred to rules, or "canons," for the proper celebration of Mass. By the middle of that century, disciplinary manuals known as "Church orders," such as the Didascalia, offered copious legislation concerning the liturgy. All the evidence indicates that certain prayers - such as the "Holy, holy, holy" and the dialogue proceeding from "Lift up your hearts" - were almost universal by the middle of the third century, though probably much earlier.
"What's the big deal," you might ask, "you already knew it was from the Bible, which is far earlier." Yes, but many Christians find all kinds of things in the Bible, that doesn't make it necessarily true. Knowing you could support the Mass biblically was fascinating, but no more than an amusing parlor trick to me. Finding out that the part of the Mass I found most robotic and dull was something Christians have been saying every day for 1,800 years or more completely floored me.

I know I must sound like a complete dork by now, but then I came across two wonderful CD's. The first was by Michael Barber called Unlocking the Book of Revelation. It was distributed by Lighthouse Catholic Media. It seemed to be along the same lines as Scott Hahn's book, but somehow hearing it made it more real that reading it, perhaps it's just a psychological effect.

Then today a friend loaned me this wonderful CD by Fr Larry Richards called The Mass Explained. I loved it, not so much because it told me new stuff about the mass, I have that foundation now, but for the spiritual side of it. What is means to be kneeling before Jesus on the altar, to know He is God and you are not.

Since it is getting late, I'll post tomorrow about some of the things Fr Richard's talked about in his talk on the Mass.

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