The heavenly and mundane

By Joel Padgett


In my last article, I focused on the first goal of our Eucharistic Renewal—belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist—with the hope of touching upon the other three goals in the future. Here, we’ll take a look at the second goal.

As you may recall, the four points of the Eucharistic Renewal are: Believe, Worship, Live and Share. In essence, it is (1) to believe in the real, true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist so as to be moved; (2) to worship Him, especially in the Mass; (3) to reflect that belief in my daily living, seeking reconciliation with God and others when I fail to authentically live it out; and (4) to share with others—through word and action—the unconditional love of God encountered and received in the Eucharist.

The context is important. At the end of the day, all four goals are intimately connected. The more you grow in one, the more you tend to grow in the others. Unfortunately, the contrary also occurs: the more lukewarm a person becomes in one, the more lukewarm that person tends to become in the others. However, hope always remains because—in either scenario—God never gives up on us; and His grace is always at work, acting as a catalyst to foster devotion and to set dampened spirits aflame. We must simply turn to Him and ask.

Concretely, our second goal focuses on fostering attendance at Mass – and valuing Mass in its entirety. These two aspects also are closely related. If you truly value Mass and appreciate it in its unity, more than likely you will desire to be present and regularly attend Mass. Whereas, once a person starts to pick the Mass apart – especially if the criteria is ultimately nothing more than personal preference or comfort – it tends to be a question of time before attending Mass gradually begins to lose importance.

It is not possible to list here all the reasons why Mass is important or why Mass should be valued in its entirety. I simply wish to offer a single reflection; namely that, in order to grow in one’s appreciation for the Mass, it is important to treasure all parts of the Mass in their unity, since the various parts of the Mass “constitute one single act of worship” (CCC 1408).

Our living God is real and present at Mass in a way that is unlike anything else short of seeing Him face-to-face in heaven; and this same God loves you and cares for you infinitely, eternally and personally. You matter to Him. He knows you—the good, the bad, and the ugly—and He loves you just the same. He desires your perfect happiness and fulfillment. You can say or do nothing to make Him love you any less. He will always be there for you. He will never abandon you. He will never abuse or mistreat you. He has given himself for you. In the Mass, you ultimately have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

And yet, these truths may do nothing to make Mass less boring, less repetitive, less…. They may do nothing to make it easier for you to actually get to Mass, let alone pay attention during it. Squirmy children, silly—or not so silly—arguments between loved ones, your own personal baggage, and a whole host of other worries and concerns may legitimately vie for our attention. And yet, none of these things change what was expressed in the previous paragraph.

It shows one of the challenges – and the beauty – of the sacraments; on the one hand so heavenly, on the other so apparently mundane. In the sacraments, similar to the mystery of the Incarnation, God enters into our mess. He uses the stuff—the matter—of life, and he meets us in it. For Him, matter matters. The stuff of our lives matters. What appears to be so seemingly mundane may simply be a thin veil waiting to be pierced so that what is truly beautiful, transcendent and sublime may enter more fuller into and transform our lives.