The other day I was talking with a person about how they celebrate the Mass at their parish. They were telling me about how they had conformed the Mass to better reflect their community. ‘We need to express ourselves to fully participate in the Mass.’ It reminded me of a parish in the next town that before communion announced that in their parish everybody stands after they receive communion until the last person has received. This supposedly showed not only community solidarity, but that the Mass was bigger than any individual. Wow! These are two examples of community centered elitism. What they fail to understand is that the Mass isn’t about the Parish community as the body of Christ.
The Mass is first and foremost Christ’s sacrifice to His Father; that we, as members of His Mystical Body share in. We come to witness Christ’s ultimate prayer to His Father; His ultimate act of obedience to Him, and ultimate act of Love for us, and offer our sacrifices along with His to the Father.
This Mystical Body, that we are part of; is more than just a person, it is more than those parish communities – it is the whole Church. The Holy Father in his October 3rd General Audience touched on this aspect of the Mass. The Sacraments, especially the Mass ‘is an encounter between Christ and the Church. Therefore it is the ‘total Christ’ the whole Community, the Body of Christ united with Her Head, that is celebrating.’ He went on to say ‘It is the worship of a wide open heaven. It is never solely the event of a single community with its place in time and space. It is important that every Christian feel and be truly integrated into this universal ‘we’’
When I have been at Masses that have strayed from the Rubrics to ‘better integrate within the community’ I have felt confused and separated from the worship. I was an outsider, I felt I was intruding. This is not what the Mass is about. It is about one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church coming together and participating with Christ. The Mystical Body, me, those around me, those in the diocese, in the world; those living, those that have lived, those in heaven coming together as one in Christ.
We need to realize this universality of the Mass. We need to stretch our minds passed our little parish mindset and embrace the Mystical Body, the Church Universal if we are ever to understand the true importance and power of the Liturgy.