In the great beauty we find in being Catholics, we simultaneously find our great disappointment. What I mean by that is that once a person comes to understand what is actually transpiring at the Sacrifice of the Mass, they simultaneously discover that they’ll never find an equal or greater experience anywhere else. How comforting and poetically gruesome is that reality for us?
Such is this that, if you’ve been in love, you might find even a greater love. If you’ve ever experienced an amazing movie, you might experience even a more amazing movie in the future. There will be an even better pair of jeans, or better German Chocolate Cake. One Protestant Church to the next offers nothing so unique that their other denominations can’t duplicate or replicate. Not so with the Catholic Mass! There is absolutely no other place to experience it, and what it has to offer is so fulfilling that every worldly experience outside of it is completely unfulfilling.
Early on in my conversion process to the Catholic Church I would still visit Protestant services, but as I began to discover what was actually taking place at the Mass and what I was participating in, I began to refuse to set myself up to be disappointed. Having tasted what it meant to be completely filled at the Mass, I didn’t want to position myself to be unfulfilled. So, to this day, I avoid non-Catholic religious services whenever possible, and I attend weekly Mass as often as I am able to satisfy that inner-longing that I have from being in a world that can’t offer anything close to giving me what I receive at the Mass.
So what is this thing that we can only find at the Sacrifice of the Mass? Actually, there are four things that come together only at the Mass. One of those things is natural to the Mass; meaning that the Mass is its original setting (where it comes from). The three other things are preter-natural to the Mass; meaning that these things can also be naturally found outside of the Mass. The thing that is natural to the Mass is the Holy Eucharist – the Real Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ Jesus. The Mass is the only place where Christ Jesus actually becomes the Sacrament of His Body and Blood for us to consume. There is no other place in the universe where you can witness this miracle except at the Catholic Mass. The three preter-natural things also contain the Presence of Christ in their own way; those three things being: (1) The Priest (Christ present in His Minister); (2) The Holy Scriptures (Christ present Speaking His Word); and (3) The Congregation (Christ present where two or three at gathered together in His name).
Paragraph 1088 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says it this way:
- “To accomplish so great a work” – the dispensation or communication of his work of salvation – “Christ is always present in his Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the Sacrifice of the Mass not only in the person of his minister, ‘the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross,’ but especially in the Eucharistic species. By his power he is present in the sacraments so that when anybody baptizes, it is really Christ himself who baptizes. He is present in his word since it is he himself who speaks when the holy Scriptures are read in the Church. Lastly, he is present when the Church prays and sings, for he has promised ‘where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them.” (SC 7; Mt 18:20)
This Magnanimous Quad Presence of Christ Jesus is only present at the Sacrifice of the Mass, and inescapably so. Essentially, everywhere we turn at the Mass – there Christ is; and there He is in a way that is perceptible to every single one of our five senses. This divine reality reminds us of our Lord’s response to the Pharisees when He said, “The coming of the kingdom of God cannot be observed and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or, ‘There it is.’ For behold, the kingdom of God is among you.” (Luke 17:20-21)
If you have been away from the Sacrifice of the Mass for a while, or if you haven’t considered this wonderful news, I invite you to come to the Mass and absorb Christ Jesus fully present to you in the Sacraments, His Word being read and heard, His Priest, and His people. If you make a habit out of looking forward to getting out of the Mass the abundance it has to offer, I’m certain you’ll find yourself getting more of the Mass.
4 PART SERIES ON ‘LOVING THE NOVUS ORDO MASS’:
- Loving the Novus Ordo Mass: Holy Things & Sacred Space
- Loving the Novus Ordo Mass: Presenting a Visible God
- Loving the Novus Ordo Mass: The Magnanimous Quad Presence of Christ Jesus
- Loving the Novus Ordo Mass: A True Dialogue of Persons