St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

If The Mass Is Always The Same

Perhaps you have noticed that there is more light in the sanctuary. Sunday Mass is so important for us, and that's why we try to take care of some of the details of our celebrations. I'm also very happy that the altar society is already working. The Mass is so beautiful, it is really the centre of the life of the parish community. We come here every Sunday, or even during the week, to pray and worship, to talk to God and to listen to him, but there is more than that. We come to meet the Lord in an intimate encounter. We come to give ourselves to God, and the Lord offers himself to us in Holy Communion. The Mass is beautiful because it is different from everything we may experience during the week. It is a meeting with the Lord.

I would like to speak today about one aspect of our Liturgy. Why we say always the same at every Mass? Is there any room for creativity?

First of all, if you pay attention, in the Mass the prayers are not always the same. Prayers change, songs change, the readings change. So, it is not true that the Mass is boring because it is always the same.

Second, people who are in love say always the same thing: "I love you". What's wrong with that? When you ask for forgiveness to someone, you always say: "I'm sorry". And when you meet people you always say "Hello" or "How are you?", or "Did you have a good sleep?". There is nothing wrong when you repeat something, if it is meaningful for you. We repeat the same thing because we feel the same. Or also because we want to deepen in the sense of what we say.

Another reason for which the Mass follows a certain structure is because it is an official and public prayer. We don't come to Mass to listen to the service of a particular priest, but the service of the Catholic Church. We don't want to listen the ideas of a person like ourselves, but the ideas of Jesus. We don't come to Church to do what the priest wants, but what Jesus commanded us to do: "Do this in memory of me". At Mass, we do "this". We follow the command of Jesus when at the last supper he said: "Do this in memory of me". That's why the Mass has been the same for 2000 years.

Of course, there have been some changes, but small changes. The priest was facing the altar, now faces the people, but there is always a priest and he does always the same things. Language has changed, but not the words. Hosts have changed their fashion, but it is always bread and wine. When we participate in a holy Mass, we know that we are doing what Jesus commanded us to do. That's why the Mass is meaningful, because it comes from Jesus, from the Son of God.

Imagine that you go to see "Hamlet". At a certain point, you prepare yourself to hear those famous words: "To be or not to know anything else.". You would be disappointed. You want to hear the words of Shakespeare: "To be or not to be, that is the question". The same thing would happen if we want to change the Mass.

Another example. When you want to remember a particular person, you read the letters he wrote, you see his photos, or you like to hear stories about him. But if someone tells you a story about him that is not true, or changes the things he wrote, or shows you a photo that is different, you don't like it, because that is not the same person you want to remember. The Mass is also a memorial of Jesus, and that's why it doesn't change.

Of course there is room for creativity. We can sing this or that song, we can put more flowers, use different colours, wear more beautiful vestments, change tablecloths, make new intercessions, lit more or fewer candles, and a very long etc. It is wise to use the freedom that the Church gives us to adapt those things that can be adapted at every situation, for the sake of the people, always following the liturgical principles.

The Mass is one of those things we would be very sad if it changes. The fall must be red and yellow in its maples, the winter must be white in its snow, and the boiler must be warm enough so that we can enjoy winter! The beach must have lots of water to enjoy summer. Hamlet must say "To be or not to be, that is the question". The priest must say: "This is my body". And if he does so, our life is different, because we can meet the Lord, we can eat the body of Christ.

Let us give thanks for the Mass. And let us try to live it intensely, as our community and personal encounter with God.

Fr. Andrew