The heart of the Christian faith, contrary to what many Christians believe, is not the Bible; it’s the Mass.
Why the mass? For four centuries the early Christians did not have a defined list of the books of the bible. It was said, “the scriptures were written on the heart of the early Church rather than on parchment.”
What this means is the Bible was a means of encountering God, who he was and who he has revealed himself to be – getting to know God through different forms of literature like history, poetry, myth etc.
Over the centuries God made himself known a little more and a little more through different ways and finally revealed himself fully through his FINAL WORD about himself, and that word was and is Jesus Christ. The way Jesus speaks, God would speak, the way he laughs, God laughs, the way He loves, God loves, the way he looks at another, God looks, the way he prayed, God prayed, etc.
The early Church would use the scriptures as a way of coming to know their beloved God and they used any scriptures that authentically revealed their beloved God more. The Church’s job is to unpack this revelation and find out as much about God as possible, because the Church is in love with God and can’t stand not to know every detail about him!
That’s the Scripture part of things, but…But the mass was entirely different!
Compare TWO ways of knowing another, especially when “falling in love” with them. The First – You go on many dates and a lot is small talk and being in the person’s presence, but the real joy is when they start to reveal details about themselves that they would only share with someone they trusted and desired.
In that moment you can feel yourself closer to their heart and a new joy flows through you and you become more alive by their affection. Then you share intimate details about yourself no one could know unless you shared them, and they likewise have this closeness and joy. You then truly begin to know not just about the person, but the “inner person.”
This closeness then leads to a Second “Knowing.” You stand before a community and profess your love and commitment to their well-being and fulfillment and after all the dancing you find yourselves both alone. Alone and embraced in the other –
Wait…. Sex is the highest level of knowing? Seems weird, not many people tell stories during sex. What is this knowing?
The mouth might be closed but the body is speaking. Speaking what? I desire you alone! I am swearing an oath that everything I do is for you. My new life, all my energy is dedicated to making you and you alone happy. The purpose for my existence is your fulfillment.
Your ears do not hear this but your heart must! And this is the deepest level of knowing, knowing that your beloved feels this way about you.
So how does this apply to the Mass?
Scripture is the first knowing – when God reveals to you intimate details about himself, because he trusts you and wants you to be close.
The Eucharist is the second knowing.
When we receive the Eucharist we are receiving more than bread. In the Eucharist the reality is that it is Jesus. This is the reality that bread is now Jesus and although it looks like you’re at Church, you are actually on a hill. On Calvary.
At the mass you are trans-historically brought back to the cross. Truly. Mary at your right hand, John on your left. By faith you are enabled to look at the Eucharist and see Jesus stripped of everything on the cross. Why? So you may gaze upon his love and know that he loves you so much that he has held nothing back in his love. Nothing can hold back or stop his love!
When you receive him, although your ears hear nothing, your heart should hear the same things a wife feels in the embrace of her husband. Only a husband may love you dearly but there is an end to his love, a point he can’t pass. But not so for God. His love is endless and same with his beauty.
Still, why is the mass mandatory? The Church, which is led by the Holy Spirit, believes that in order to be in love with God, one must be part of this experience at least once a week. Can you imagine a wife and a husband together for only one hour in a week – then, what if they decided that this one hour was not even necessary? What would happen is the Couple would absolutely fall out of love. If you love God, and want to stay in love with Him, you will want to be at Mass at least once a week.