What Mass Really Means

Celebrating the Eucharist With Faith

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RAPHOE, Ireland, Aug. 21, 2012 (Zenit.org).- We need to approach the celebration of the Mass with a lively faith in Our Lord, urged Bishop Philip Boyce, the bishop of Raphoe, Ireland, last Saturday.

His homily was given as part of the novena of Knock, in County Mayo, where Our Lady appeared together with St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist in 1879.

“Like the Roman centurion, faith makes us aware of the God into whose presence we enter,” he said. “It blossoms into deep trust in God and expresses itself in a spoken or silent petition for a favor we cannot procure by our own resources.”

Each Mass, he added, should be an experience of God and of faith, and a prayer.

Our different postures during Mass, such as sitting, standing, genuflecting, should reflect what is present in our mind, heart and soul. “What the soul experiences, the body expresses in visible actions and postures,” he noted.

Our prayer gets us in contact with Christ, Bishop Boyce said, and our faith assures us that at Mass we are in his presence, even though we do not physically see him.

We should pray at Mass that we have a personal and living experience of Christ and to do all we can to enter into the presence of God, he urged..

He warned, however, that if Christ has little place in our daily life that we can’t expect to have some kind of revelation when we go to Mass. “We are the same people kneeling in the pew as we were before we entered the church,” he pointed out.

“A good faith-inspired life prepares us to get a lot out of the Holy Eucharist,” he said.

Bishop Boyce also warned against falling into routine. We need to maintain an attitude of wonder and awe, he recommended. “It needs a spirit of prayer and lively faith to counteract the listlessness of weekly or daily custom,” he said.

“If we are to break the monotony of repetition we must make the Mass a living prayer that is sustained by an ardent faith,” he added. “Then we have that full and authentic participation by all who are present at the Eucharistic Sacrifice, something eagerly desired by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council.”


The Eucharistic celebration is a time of “sublime prayer” he explained. “There we find ourselves in the presence of the Crucified and Risen Savior.”

“He speaks to us through the proclamation of his inspired word; he invites us to offer ourselves with him, the Immaculate Victim, to the Father; he feeds us and changes us into himself in Holy Communion; he sends us forth to announce the gospel by our lives,” he continued.

Our prayer at Mass is a profession of faith and no other prayer equals this great prayer of the Mass which is the celebration of the Eucharist, he declared.

“As we look forward to Christ’s second coming we offer the Father in thanksgiving the holy and living sacrifice of the Eucharist,” he commented.

“The Holy Eucharist is the Church’s greatest prayer and greatest treasure,” he noted. “We are not so much obliged as privileged to go to Mass on the Lord’s day,” Bishop Boyce added. 

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