Lay Perspective: Celebrating the Mass in the Year of Faith
By Greg Hartman
The time we spend at Mass equals 2.375 full days, which doesn’t even register as a full one percent of the year. It’s easy to get caught up in our daily anxieties and sometimes it’s difficult to focus in that short period. We can drift through Mass by thinking of things that need to get done. Let’s see, I can go to the hardware store after Mass, fix the light post or head to the grocery store and miss the essence of the Mass.
A few years ago I heard about a wonderful concept: the sacrament of the present moment. Think about how much time we spend in the past or future without really soaking in the present moment. Think, too, how much we lose by living in the past or future. We can’t control either! In this Year of Faith, we can enter into Mass and celebrate the wonder of the liturgy. After all, the world will be there when we leave Mass just as it was when we entered.
I have overheard through the years that mass is boring, or mass never changes. The liturgy changes one’s heart. That’s part of the journey. While so many things change, the fortress of the Mass celebration doesn’t. We probably won’t see a change in one Mass, but over time there will be a difference. We’re called to that perseverance, and at times it can be frustrating.
All of us at one time have had a task that wasn’t exciting: cleaning the garage, organizing files, etc…, yet in the end we’re glad we persevered when the task is finished. Each Mass is an opportunity to shed our old self and clothe ourselves in Christ. Think about how incredible that is. The next time you go to Mass, think about how unlikely this is in a secular sense, but that the power of God brought you to your parish for Mass. That’s something to embrace in this Year of Faith.
Most of us think of the sacrament of reconciliation as confession, also known as a sacrament of conversion. It’s our physical avenue to a life in Christ. The inner accountant in me tends to do a spreadsheet of sins. You know the drill: “Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been three weeks since my last confession. I have not been as charitable as I could have been, I don’t like Cleveland Brown fans…” — the confessional grocery list.
Yet a deeper confession will point to those things that keep us from true happiness. As we wander in our desert of sin, there are many shiny objects that attract our attention. The truth is nothing on this earth is permanent. Everything is temporary, including our physical time on this earth.
Years ago a wonderful priest told me that sin is filling emptiness. My journey has taught me that when I go for the earthly cool things that I think will make me happy, it’s a temporary moment that fades. In our journey it’s frustrating to make mistakes over and over. It’s embarrassing and I’m ashamed and wonder, “Man, why can’t I crack this?” So after a deep examination of conscience I can go to the confessional and shed that part that keeps me from happiness, to turn away from the false shiny objects.
Confession can also free us from the past that weighs us down, from embarrassment and shame. After leaving church, it’s a good time to let go of anger, disappointment and forgive our brothers and sisters who may have hurt us in the past — even if they like Cleveland!
Embracing Mass and the sacrament of reconciliation is an excellent avenue to find true happiness and true freedom. In a wonderful and exciting way we can learn to immerse ourselves in the here and now and live our life as our Father meant us to live life. Celebrating the church in the Year of Faith gives us that cool opportunity to not only get psyched about what our faith is, but gives us a chance to grow ever so closer to the Lord.
Hartman is the circulation manager at The Catholic Telegraph.