For some, Mass is a beautifully rich time of spiritual reflection and growth. For others, Mass is confusing! Sit, stand, sit, stand, kneel stand. Lots of sayings and responses that are difficult to follow along with if you aren’t Catholic.
So, in light of a desire to shed some light on Mass, here are 5 cool Mass Facts that you may not have known.
1- Mass is modeled after the book of Revelation
I think there is this stereotype that Mass is antiquated, or ritualistic. However, interestingly, much of the content of Mass is based on the book of Revelation, which is a book all about the future, and of that which is to come. For example, each Mass we sing the “Holy, Holy, Holy,” which is straight out of Revelation 4:8. The idea is we are joining in with those in heaven in their unending hymn of praise. So that’s a real profound moment, if you think about joining in singing the same song those in heaven are singing, and the connection between the physical and the spiritual that is occurring. And that’s just one tiny example. You can do an entire study on Revelation and the Mass. The more you know, the more amazing Mass becomes.
2- There are 4 Scripture readings throughout Mass,and the readings are the same globally.
There’s a lot of Bible each Mass. First, there is often an Old Testament reading (except during the season of Easter, when we read through the whole book of Acts.) Then, there is a Psalm, except instead of it being read, the Psalm is typically sung. Which is cool because the Psalms are originally songs. So, in the Mass we put them to music, and it’s sung responsorally, where a lead singer, or cantor, sings part of it, and the congregation joins in throughout. After that, there is a New Testament reading. And, finally, we conclude with a reading from the Gospels. Often, there is a theme that connects many of the readings, and there are studies available to further dig into the readings of each week. Also, the Catholic readings cycle over 3 years, throughout which, if you are attending daily Mass, you’ll have read through pretty much the entire Bible! And finally, the readings are the same globally. So each Mass, I am hearing the same readings as Catholics in my own town, in Minnesota, Africa, Europe… everywhere! This is cool because I can discuss something about the readings with JP’s family or a friend of mine from a different parish, and we all have heard the same Scripture each week.
3-We say the Creed every Mass.
Christians have shared a creed, or set of beliefs since the earliest days of Christianity. The Nicene Creed was formalized in 325 A.D. It’s a series of “I believe” statements, and is a beautiful, easy to understand representation of Universal Christian teachings. Every single Mass, we stand up together and state our beliefs corporately. That’s a cool moment- publicly affirming your beliefs among others who are affirming the same.
4- Mass is offered every day.
Anyone looking to attend Mass can find one any day of the week, often offered at different times in different parishes. An interesting thing about this is if you think about time zones, and that daily Mass has been a global practice since the days of the Early Church, there is pretty much a Mass being offered somewhere continually on Earth at all times… and has been for… well a really long time!
5- The Making Present of the Last Supper.
Catholics believe Communion is more than just are representation, or symbol, or what Jesus did in the Upper Room. And Catholic belief on Communion actually goes wayyyy back into Jewish culture and history. Historically, when Jewish people celebrated the Passover of Moses’ day, they didn’t believe they were just symbolically representing what happened; they believed they were participating in a “making present” of that actual one time historical Passover event. That they too, somehow, mysteriously, were also participating in the Passover of Moses. In Mass, we believe that Communion is a “making present” of Jesus’ Last Supper with His disciples. That we, too, are participating, mysteriously, in that one time event. There are a lot of connections to Judaism in Catholicism and in Mass as well. This is only one of them.
I hope you’ve found these 5 Cool Facts about Mass interesting, at least, and educational at most! I know I didn’t get to all the sit, stand, kneel stuff in this post- but I can write about that another time. There’s a lot of meaning behind each of those postures as well.
Until next time!