April 18, 2003
Life Changing Masses, No Matter What
Christ "is the high priest of the New Covenant; it is He Himself Who presides invisibly over every Eucharistic celebration." Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1348
Every Mass is automatically holy, great, and awesome because Jesus, the eternal High Priest, makes present in every Mass His sacrifice for our salvation on Calvary. However, every Mass is not automatically fruitful, powerful, and life-changing for each person at Mass. This depends on how open we are to receiving God's grace during Mass.
Many people mistakenly think that to have a powerful, life-changing Mass, the priest leading the celebration must be "charismatic" or at least tolerant of the use of the spiritual gifts, such as tongues, prophecy, and healing. It is a blessing to have a priest open to the gifts of the Spirit, but it's not necessary for the Spirit to work.
For example, "Hannah was praying silently; though her lips were moving" (1 Sm 1:13). Eli the priest thought she was drunk. This was the same mistaken conclusion made by those observing the disciples praying in tongues at the first Pentecost (Acts 2:13). Whether or not Hannah was praying in tongues, she is an example of the power of inaudible prayer. Though barren, she miraculously conceived and gave birth to Samuel, who was God's instrument for renewing the entire Israelite nation in a period of twenty years (1 Sm 7:2ff).
Jesus healed a hemorrhaging woman without even doing anything. He healed her by His presence. He didn't know it until after the healing (Lk 8:46). Furthermore, Peter did greater works than Jesus had done (see Jn 14:12) by healing and delivering many people from the evil one merely by his shadow (Acts 5:15-16). As long as you have a shadow and faith, you can heal others at Mass and set them free from the evil one, no matter what the priest is doing.
The early Jewish Christians stayed in the synagogue for more than fifty years after Jesus' death and resurrection. Although Jesus was not accepted as the Messiah by most of the Jewish people, the early Christians were so effective in evangelizing Jews to Jesus that the Jewish religious leaders eventually threw them out of the synagogue in 85 AD (see Jn 12:42; Acts 6:7). The early Jewish Christians had no opportunity to formally evangelize in the synagogue, but when they went to the synagogue, people came to Jesus.
To make every Mass a world-changing event, we must have faith. Although we cannot always see the effects of our life in the Spirit, we believe that the Spirit is moving through us. We also need love, which covers a multitude of sins (1 Pt 4:8) and which never fails (1 Cor 13:8). Without love, even the most "charismatic" Mass will profit us nothing (1 Cor 13:1-3). With love, however, all things are possible (see 1 Cor 13:7). Then when we celebrate Mass, even under the worst of circumstances, we can see evangelization, miracles, healing, deliverance, and international renewal.
Nihil obstat: Reverend Edward J. Gratsch, September 11, 1999.
Imprimatur: Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, September 13, 1999.