The Holy Mass is a Heavenly Celebration on earth
Part 10 - Receiving the sacrament of Holy Eucharist
We ask God to have mercy on us and to grant us peace. Note that this prayer starts by saying "Lamb of God". Jesus Christ is the sacrificial lamb that God provided for the salvation of souls.
The priest raises the Sacred Host and says "Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb." We respond with "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed."
How true these words of our response and we should remember that these words were inspired by the occasion of the Roman Centurion asking Jesus to heal his dying servant. Jesus asked the Centurion if he wanted Him to go and heal the man and the Centurion replied that he was not worthy that Jesus should entered under his roof but if Jesus would only say the word then the man would be healed. We should always humble ourselves before God and ask for His mercy knowing that should He only say the word our soul shall be healed.
When we receive Holy Communion we should realized that this is truly a personal sacred time for us. We have just partaken of the sacred body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. We should have a truly spiritual feeling within us. During this sacred personal time we praise God, thank Him for our blessings, ask for His blessings on us, our families and loved ones, blessings for the clergy, lay ministers, all of God's people, mercy on those who have died, and we tell Him of our concerns and our petitions. How much closer to God could we be then at the moment when we receive Holy Communion at our Heavenly celebration on earth?
The Holy Mass is a Heavenly Celebration on earth
We Catholics are fortunate that we have the blessing to participate in the celebration of the Holy Mass. Some think of this not as a blessing but only as a duty. It certainly is our duty according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), in which the first precept of the Church states “You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor” (CCC 2041). But more importantly than an obligation, attending and participating in Mass is also a huge privilege and a blessing. We are privileged because we can share in the rich tradition and sacred mysteries of the Mass. And we are blessed because through our participation in the Mass we are truly participating in a Heavenly celebration here an earth. Mass is the way we can know and feel and share with others a heavenly experience here on earth. Over the next week and a half we will look at various aspects of what the Mass is, an opinion on what Heaven is like, why and how the Mass is a Heavenly celebration here on earth, some of the primary elements of the Mass and how our participation relates to the Mass being a Heavenly celebration.
This is not be a scholarly discussion nor a theology lesson but only the thoughts and observations of one who has found the Mass to be a Heavenly celebration here on earth.
Patr 1. WHAT IS MASS?
First let's understand that Mass is not simply a gathering place for people of like minds to pray and receive Our Lord in Holy Communion, nor is it for the purpose of building community. The fact that we are a community may be one result, but it is not the purpose.
Simply put, Mass is a gathering together of the people to offer our devotion to God, to participate in the partaking of the Holy Eucharist, and to celebrate God's gift of love, peace, and joy.
Mass isn't something that came about in the past few centuries, the celebration of Mass has been in existence since the time of Jesus Christ on earth starting with the Last Supper where Christ instituted the sacrament of Holy Eucharist and told His disciples to “do this in remembrance of Me” and the Mass has continued in various forms and evolving into the Mass that we have today. But it has always been for the purpose of bringing people together to praise God and celebrate the Holy Eucharist.
Simply attending Mass is not the same as participating in the Mass. To appreciate why Mass is a Heavenly celebration on earth we need to understand more about the Mass, what Mass is, what is happening and why. And as we come to know more about Mass and by actively participating in the Mass we will come to appreciate more fully the blessing that the Mass truly is and we will see why Mass is a Heavenly celebration on earth.
WHAT IS HEAVEN?
The Bible tells us many things about heaven but does not give a specific definition. It tells us that The Lord is “the God of heaven” (Gen 24:3, 7). In Deuteronomy God is asked to “look down from your holy habitation, from heaven” (Deut 26:15). David says, “The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man” (Ps 14:2; cf. Isa 63:15). Heaven is God’s throne (Ps 103:10; Isa 66:1). Jesus prays to “our Father in heaven” (Matt 6:9). These are just a few of the many references to Heaven in the bible.
The Catechism also mentions Heaven over one hundred times, but without a specific definition. It tells us of God that "He is in heaven, his dwelling place" CCC 2795. The beatitudes raise our hope toward heaven as the new Promised Land CCC 1820. " Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness." CCC 1024.
Heaven is the abode of God along with the Angels and saints and where we all want to spend eternity with God in love, peace and joy.
So maybe we don't know exactly what heaven is but we do know that it is where we want to be for a lot of reasons, not the least of which are that God is there and joy is there. Anything else that is there is a bonus and we can anticipate what else is there based on various sacred sources and perhaps even what out heart tells us. But one thing is certain that in heaven we will find immense joy in praising God up close and personal. This is not be a scholarly discussion nor a theology lesson but only the thoughts and observations of one who has found the Mass to be a Heavenly celebration here on earth.
Why is Mass A Heavenly Celebration On Earth?
At Mass we praise God; we give Him thanks; we recall the glories of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and we celebrate the love of God. And we do this through outward actions such as praying; singing; greetings; and partaking of the body and blood of Christ, and by inward actions such as personal prayers of praise, thanksgiving, and humble petitions to God. Just imagine doing all of this in Heaven in the company of all our friends and relatives who we have joined in Heaven, along with the Angels and the great Saints, the ancient prophets, our Blessed Mother - all happening in a place of unimaginable splendor and beauty that is only appropriate for the presence of God. Regarding Mass, the Catechism states "Christians come together in one place for the Eucharistic assembly. At its head is Christ himself, the principal agent of the Eucharist. He is high priest of the New Covenant; it is he himself who presides invisibly over every Eucharistic celebration." CCC 1345.
At Mass we praise God, we celebrate God, we share in the banquet of Jesus Christ. Does this not seem like what we would do in Heaven? Of course we are not in heaven now, and we have our earthly problems to deal with, our worries, pains and sorrows. At Mass we may bring our problems with us but a greater event is happening. We are celebrating with God. And if we ourselves open our hearts and allow it, we will be able to see that Mass just might be a heavenly celebration here on earth - especially since no one on earth knows exactly what it is like in heaven.
How Is Mass A Heavenly Celebration On Earth?
Let's imagine how the Mass can be a heavenly celebration. Typically when we go to Mass we go to a church, a gathering place, which is always beautiful even if the church you are in at any given time is not the most elaborate church. There is always beauty in every church. Just look at the statues, the altar, the candles, the windows, the tabernacle, and the glorious depiction of Jesus Christ on the cross. Even if Mass is being held in the most humble place it is beautiful because of the reverence it holds. I try to imagine the beauty of such a gathering place in heaven, but I know that it is beyond the greatest expectation I could ever imagine. Looking at photos of the magnificent Churches in the world and the purpose they serve it is easy to understand why so much time and effort was put into their construction, these are the places we come to celebrate Mass and they should be made as beautiful as possible.
When we enter a church for Mass, right away we must realize that we are leaving our everyday world and entering into a place that is reverent and holy and that we are there to worship God, to give Him our thanks and praise along with others who are there for the same reason. And if we understand that we are about to have a Heavenly celebration we will be more reverent and respectful as we prepare for the Mass. "Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise Give thanks to him, bless his name" " Psalm 100:3–4
Participation in A Heavenly Celebration On Earth – Upon entering Church.
As we enter Church we bless ourselves with Holy Water and make the Sign of the Cross. The sign of the cross is not just an empty symbolic gesture, it is a prayer, the first prayer in the Mass. When we make the Sign of the Cross, we are saying that we believe and have faith in Jesus Christ being the crucified son of God. And we remember the death on the cross that He suffered. The Sign of the Cross is our way of showing our belief and the strength of our Catholic faith and in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is our small prayer to the Blessed Trinity.
Before we enter the pew we genuflect on one knee to show our reverence to the presence of Our Lord in the Tabernacle which contains the Holy Eucharist, the very Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is really, truly, and substantially present under the appearances of bread and wine. The Tabernacle is truly the “Holy of Holies".
After we are in the pew as we prepare ourselves for the Mass, now is the time for us to look around at the statues, the artful and religious themed windows and other art. Take in the beauty and splendor that man has created to honor God, the Blessed Mother, and the Saints. Remembering that we are about to take part in a Heavenly celebration we take this opportunity to prepare ourselves by clearing our mind of anything that is not relevant to our worship of God. Now is also the time to think about the intentions you wish to offer for the Mass remembering the spiritual and physical needs of those whom you wish to receive grace from God
Part 6. – The voice of angels.
The celebration is just starting and as the Priest enters in procession there is often music and song. We are invited to join the Choirs of Angels in Heaven who praise God with song. We participate in a special way in the celebration of the Mass with our songs. No matter if you think you don't have a good singing voice, if you listen to the people singing during Mass, you will notice that the singing is always beautiful and somehow your own voice adds to that beauty. If you close your eyes you may be able to visualize the Angels In Heaven singing to Our Lord. In the Bible in Ephesians we are told that we should be "addressing one another [in] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and playing to the Lord in your hearts" Ephesians 5:19
The Catechism states "In the earthly liturgy we share in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the Holy City of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle. With all the warriors of the heavenly army we sing a hymn of glory to the Lord; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and fellowship with them; we eagerly await the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, until he, our life, shall appear and we too will appear with him in glory." CCC 1090.
Part 7 - Introductory Rites
The Priest greets us with the Sign Of The Cross and then turns to the people and says "The Lord be with you". This is not just a polite greeting, it is a sincere desire on the part of the priest that we realize that our Blessed Lord is truly present with us as we participate in the Mass and that it is Jesus Christ that is functioning through the priest.
One of the first things we do is acknowledge our sins and ask for God's mercy. Since we are living in this world, from the time of Adam and Eve we have all been subject to sin with the only exceptions being our Blessed Mother and Jesus Christ. Therefore since we are not yet in Heaven but we are participating in a Heavenly celebration it is proper that we acknowledge our sins and ask for God's mercy. We confess that we have sinned, and we confess both to God and to all others. We acknowledge that we sin through the things we think, through what we say and also by omitting to do things that we should have done.
We ask for prayers from our Blessed Mother, the Angels, the saints, and also from all of those present with us at Mass And the Priest asks God to have mercy on us and to forgive us our sins and to allow us to share our eternal life with Him in Heaven.
Then we sing or say the Gloria. This prayer sets forth our honor and praise of God in the most magnificent manner. And no wonder this is so since this is the song that the Angels sang at the birth of Jesus. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will.
For a Heavenly celebration here on earth it is most appropriate for us to glorify God, praise God, profess that we bless, adore, and glorify Him, thanking Him for His great glory and praise His greatness.
Part 8 - Liturgy of the Word
During the readings we hear passages from the Bible of events from the sacred past and reminding us of the power and the glory of God. The readings from the Bible at Mass is like God speaking to us. And during the Homily, the priest or deacon help us to understand more fully what we heard in the gospel or the other readings or they give us a positive message based on the readings.
After the homily we profess our faith by praying the Creed. Creed is Latin meaning "I believe". This prayer expresses very well what we believe and is a strong statement of our beliefs.
The first belief that we State is our belief in God, the first person of the Holy Trinity. We are saying that without any doubt that we firmly believe and know in our hearts that God is the all powerful and all knowing God that created all things.
The Apostles Creed is an ancient prayer that has been in use from at least the second century and maybe even longer. There is an interesting legend that the Apostles created this prayer on the day of Pentecost when the Apostles received the Holy Spirit when they were all together with Mary. The legend is that after they received the Holy Spirit and were full of His glory that St. Peter exclaimed "I believe in God, the Father almighty, the creator of Heaven and earth". Then St. Andrew said "and in Jesus Christ, our Lord". And this went on with each Apostle making the pronouncements that make up the Apostles Creed. This has not been confirmed by the Catholic Church but it is a beautiful legend in which we can imagine this prayer being said.
Part 9 - Liturgy of the Eucharist – The Eucharistic Prayer
As we prepare for the Holy Eucharist, the offerings are brought to the priest who accepts them and proceeds to the altar where the priest thanks God that we have these offerings to make and prays that our sacrifice will be acceptable to God. As our heavenly celebration on earth it is certainly appropriate that we bring offerings to God and ask that they be acceptable to Him.
We then express our adoration and joy to God as we sing our praise to Him with the words Holy, holy, holy Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of Your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Rosanna in the highest.
We are coming to the holiest part of the Mass where the bread and wine are consecrated, changing them into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The priest uses the words that our Lord himself used as he broke the bread and blessed it and blessed the cup and gave them to his disciples saying: “Take this all of you, and eat of it, For this is my body which will be given up for you. . . . This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all.” This is the high point of the Mass where Jesus' act of love is made present for all of us. We are truly blessed to be able to share in this most Holy Sacrament.
In preparation of receiving Holy Communion we pray The Lord's Prayer. This is the prayer that Our Lord taught His disciples to pray. This is the most perfect of all prayers. And after The Lord's Prayer we are invited to offer each other the sign of peace. We should greet each other as Angels and Saints in Heaven would. With love and sincerity.
This is just a collection of my thoughts and prayers which come to me periodically. These come to me from a couple of sources, maybe something I have read may give me an idea or thought. And other times thoughts and prayers just come into my head. I like to think that the Holy Spirit is influencing me.
I am a Catholic man and firm in my belief in The Holy Trinity, my Church, and my family. I have no formal religious education beyond Catholic grade school and high school. I do read a lot of books about all things holy. My goal is to share some of my thoughts and prayers and some of my other writings in the hope that you will find them inspiring, useful, or otherwise helpful. My ultimate goal is that in some small way I may help someone to get to Heaven.
Thoughts and Prayers contained herein may be freely reprinted and translated into other languages for non-profit use only. Please cite copyright and original source .