It might not always seem like it but, on Sundays, all the Christians of the world are celebrating. There are some assemblies that are very joyful, and others are quite timid, perhaps even a bit stiff…
No matter how they are, God is very much there, at the center of each church. He is often discreet, like a gentle breeze, but he can at times blow wildly like a storm!
Why do Catholics go to Mass each Sunday? For one good reason: to commune with Christ.
Okay… But what does communion mean? Of course, if we do not know what communion means then we cannot understand why Catholics would go to Mass on Sunday!
Mass is captivating, like a suspense movie, on the condition that we understand the intrigue.
God at work!
At Mass, we see, feel and hear God at work in and around us. When we feel this love of God very strongly, then we run to Mass as often as possible! When we don’t feel anything or we don’t see anything, well then, we still go! In faithfulness to that love.
It is like life as a couple! The passionate feeling of butterflies in the stomach may not always be there on a daily basis. Sometimes, we do not feel anything, but loving is a decision, because we have committed to it, and we want to stay true to that commitment, knowing that love is more a decision than a fluttering butterfly…
Then, in time, we realize that this loyalty is rewarded a hundredfold: we make this truth come true; we give, we receive, we live a life of sharing that heals all types of emotional wounds by filling up our great need to love and be loved.
That is what Communion with Christ is! In remaining true to Him, in making our hearts ready to receive His love and His life, in allowing him to get close to us, it is then that he teaches us, nourishes us, transforms us, and heals us… All this during the Mass! And after the Mass, filled up, strengthened and certain of this love, we want to live out of it and share it with others.
The Mass is the celebration of the love between God and ourselves; after the Mass is when we are sent out on mission to learn to love and be loved.
This is how God acts through us… if we let him! To let him is the only condition required. Why? Because with Him, it is about free Love. Real love.
We are not angels
When God created us, he took great care in creating us man and woman, that is, with a body and spirit that cannot be separated. We are both body and spirit, contrary to the angels who are pure spirits.
God created us this way so that we could search for him with all of our senses, and not only with our intelligence. That is the reason why He offers us his love through tangible signs that we can see, touch, hear, taste and smell! All this for love of us and so that our body would be as fulfilled as our spirit.
We call these signs sacraments. Jesus left them for us when he walked on this earth with us. He knew well our deep need for the beyond in our human life that often lacks depth and substance.
Thanks to the sacraments, our thirst for the infinite and the absolute is quenched. It is like when we were children; we needed to physically feel love from our parents. So, we would go climb into the arms of our mother, or go be cradled by our father…
Our Heavenly Father proceeds in the same way; so that we could physically feel his love, his Son Jesus gave us tangible signs of love: baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, reconciliation, anointing of the sick, holy orders and marriage. Each time we "run" to Mass, to adoration, to an evening of prayer, or to any other celebration such as Easter, Christmas, the Body and Blood of Christ, Pentecost, etc. we run to be snuggled, strengthened and nourished. In short, we place ourselves on the receiving end of love.
There are lots of people in the pews!
Any celebration, whatever it be, is captivating provided that we have understood that we come together not only to socialize and have a good laugh! Each celebration is an invitation from God to participate in His work of love, that is not negligible…
It is captivating because we are actors with Him, surrounded by our brothers and sisters, by all the Saints and the angels in Heaven… there are lots of people in the pews, even if we cannot see them with our eyes.
Catholics celebrate someone or something every day. They love a good party! They sing, raise up their hands, kneel, get up, give each other the Peace of Christ. All over the world, the liturgy is the same, offering a space and time to stop and meet God and celebrate His love. This is how God makes our life fruitful; interiorly, personally, in our family and our cultural – we leave having been filled up, calmed and enlivened. Why would we want to pass that up? Sunday is all that, and it is sacred. Yes, we are truly created for love. That’s a good reason to celebrate, is it not?
The members of the Church love to gather to celebrate the great Christian mysteries – the sacraments; gifts from Jesus Christ. Every Sunday is like a small Easter celebration: the baptized celebrate the resurrection of Christ.
Where did the church come from?
Jesus founded the Church to bring all of humanity together into one people of peace. The Church is a mystery: He is the Head and the baptized are the Body. We also speak of the Family of children of God and the Communion of Saints.
Each person bears the responsibility for knowing the Gospel and loving Christ with his or her life. In union with the Pope and with the collaboration of the priests, the bishops govern, teach the People of God and help the baptized to become saints. The mission of the lay people is to be committed in society, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to build the Kingdom of God within the world, in their families and their places of work.
What are the sacrements?
The sacraments are like channels through which supernatural forces come to us (graces) to help us to live the way Jesus would.
When the baptized celebrate the sacraments and listen to the Word of God, Jesus Christ comes to meet them to allow his Life to grow in them. The deepest encounter we can have with him on earth is through liturgy – like a loving encounter with God in which we listen to him, we respond to him, we are caught up in his love, receive inner healing and are transformed.
The seven sacraments
It is the foundation of Christian life. Through this sacrament, we are plunged into the death of Christ, freed from the influence of sin, and born again with Christ who places his divine life in us. We become members of his Body (the Church) and children of God, called to be saints and apostles.
Through this sacrament, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. He comes, like a coach, to guide us and to ask for our collaboration in everyday life. He gives us the strength necessary to bear witness to God’s love in words and deeds. He helps us to fulfill the mission received at baptism.
"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends" (Jn. 15:13). This is what happens at each Mass: the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross to save us is mysteriously present on the alter.
We can offer our life, our work, our joys and our sorrows with the bread and the wine which will become the Body and the Blood. When the priest says: "Take and eat, this is my Body given up for you… Take and drink, this is my Blood given up for you", Christ is really present!
At communion, we all become the one Body of Christ. He comes to transform us so that we may then transform the world we live in with love.
Jesus knew all too well that we are physically and morally weak, and that at times we refuse to love as he did. To free us, heal and strengthen us, he gave to priests the power to forgive sins in his name by the sacrament of Penance-Reconciliation. To confess our lack of love and receive his mercy-filled pardon is to have a new start in our relationship with God and with others.
Anointing of the sick
This sacrament is for any baptized person who has serious health issues. In addition to bringing comfort, peace and courage to the sick person, this anointing unites the suffering of the person to the suffering of Christ on the Cross. It can, at times, bring on physical healing, and it always brings strength to meet the struggle in the soul to prepare for death, and for the forgiveness of sins.
The men who receive this sacrament become bishops, priests and deacons.
Bishops, including the pope, have a mission to teach, sanctify and govern.
Priests are the collaborators of the bishops. Like the bishops, they announce the Word, administer the sacraments and, above all, celebrate the Eucharist by acting in persona Christi: they benefit from the strength of Christ who transforms, heals and saves.
Deacons are Ministers of the Word, the alter and charity.
The sacrament of marriage is a union of three persons: the man, the woman and Christ. The spouses freely promise each other to remain faithful to their exclusive relationship for their whole life, with a willingness to welcome children. They are the image of Christ’s love for his Church.