We all piled into the waiting car. The wind had picked up and was blowing fiercely from the North ushering in a new season. We circled the block trying to figure out how to get back home and out of the city. St. Paul’s Cathedral was now in the rearview mirror and we all sat discussing what was witnessed at mass. My wife and I chatting idly about the new mass changes, what we liked and what we missed. It had been by accident that we had found ourselves in the Cathedral for the ushering in of the new Roman Missal an aligning of the stars had brought us to this incredible place. A marvel of human engineering and a testament to Faith. The grandeur of the building was leaving its imprint in our brains as we sat a stoplight patiently waiting our turn to go.
My mother sat quietly in the backseat, listening to the conversation taking place in the front seat. There was a lull in the conversation and it was then my mother, a woman full of faith, interjected on of the simplest yet one of the most poignant things I have ever heard about the Catholic faith. From her seat the words “I like how the mass is all about the Eucharist, seems like sometimes the church I go to makes it more about the sermon.” filled the car. In that statement she had just summed up something I had been struggling to wrap my brain around for months.
I grew up Lutheran and when you compare the two religions on paper they are very similar. Catholicism has some things that Luther didn’t take with him when he split the Church all those years ago, but for the most part they are the same. Same God, same Jesus, for the most part same order of service. Why then was have I spent so much of my adult life drawn to the Catholic Church? It wasn’t until I heard my mother make that statement it all clicked.
The purpose of the mass is the celebration of the Eucharist plain and simple it is the source and summit of all Christian life after all. I had heard that from numerous people along my journey towards Catholicism, but it wasn’t until I heard my own mother say it that it stuck.
When I was an active member of the Lutheran church I struggled with how it was at times more about the messenger than the message. The message of scriptures would be buried behind a bunch of quaint anecdotes and sentences that began when I was a child. Buried so deep that at times it would almost completely disappear from the sermon itself. The better you were at making up a story the better preacher you were or so it seemed.
On the other hand, the Catholic church refuses to bury Jesus in the same fashion some other preachers do. It is at every mass the Jesus becomes truly present in the Eucharist and as Catholics we celebrate this miracle at every mass. No matter how good or how bad a priest is at writing or giving a homily, when Eucharist is celebrated Jesus Christ is physically present.
I am forever indebted to my mother for teaching me this. She saw this despite being in one of the most beautiful churches in the region. While she sat surrounded by statues made of marble, gorgeous painted ceilings she saw how the mass was all about the Eucharist. It isn’t about who can give the best homily or who can pray the best it is about the celebration of Christ’s Holy Sacrifice. Sometimes it really does pay to listen to you mother.