You are not the only one who has some questions about Mass. Fr. Clements answers some of the most frequently asked questions about Mass.
What IS MASS? Mass...
- is where I join with other Christians in worshipping God, praising His goodness, and praying with others for our needs and the needs of the world;
- is the only place where I can become one with Christ in Holy Communion;
- is where Christians “proclaim the Death of the Lord", as St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians in his New Testament letters;
- is where I can be reconciled to God and to the world;
- is where I can put my life on the altar with the Lord Jesus knowing that He’ll raise me up with Him;
- is where I fulfill God’s command to “keep holy the Sabbath”;
- is where I hear the Word of God proclaimed and explained, giving me something to think on perhaps in the days that follow;
- is where I can experience peace, beauty and strength found nowhere else… that I can “do all things in Christ Who strengthens me”;
- might just be the ONE awesome thing that happens to me and that I experience this week.
What if I haven’t been to Mass in a while?
Beautiful thing about the Mass? It hasn’t changed… it’s always our “home”… and, we can always “come home.” Don’t even think about being self-conscious, we’re all there for the same reason: we know we need God. Our chapel walls are a foot-and-a-half thick concrete, they’ll still be standing after you’ve walked through the doors.
I’ve done some pretty messed up stuff since I last went to Mass...
All the more reason to be there! And you’re in good company. Pope Francis had a great description: “The Church… she’s a hospital for sinners… not a club for the already-perfect.” Mass is not only where we worship God, but where He speaks to us, reconciles us to Him and to one another, and helps us realize more just how each of us is meant for greatness… joy… and love. Plus, there’s plenty of confession times available. Or drop a line to one of our priests, grab him before or after Mass if you see him, and would like to talk.
I want to be prepared for Mass, but I’m pretty busy. What’s an easy way to do this?
Just knowing that… I’m right where God wants me to be, is a good frame of mind to have in preparing. Try to arrive a few minutes early before Mass starts, just to bring before God what’s on your mind and heart. Maybe on the drive/walk/bike/longboard over to the chapel… maybe think about… what am I grateful to God for today? What’s causing me anxiety, grief, worry? Is there someone I need to forgive? Something I don’t understand? Is there something I’m hoping comes about? Do I need insight into some situation, someone? OK, all this… it’s what we offer God at Mass… the one moment we can join our lives to Jesus on the Cross as a sacrifice to God. And we know how the Cross worked out on Easter. Mass… a great place to build up the virtue of Christian hope.
I have never been to a Catholic Mass. What is it like? Is it okay if I check it out?
Well, first of all, welcome! Anybody who seeks God is welcome at ASU Catholic Newman Center. We love to be checked out. Sometimes visitors for the first time are kind of struck at both the “formality” of the Mass, and… the “informality” of Mass. Some are amazed at its beauty and simplicity… others find that Catholic idea of “sacramentality” makes them think about things a bit more.
It’s kind of a solemn ritual — for a good reason, ritual creates a unified body out of many individuals. It’s pretty colorful… Catholics believe God comes to us through our senses… so there’s the visual (lots of pretty stuff to look at to lift the mind and heart); we hear His Word, spoken and sung… even bells ring; we taste His Body and Blood — we invite visitors to come forward in the Communion line to receive a special blessing (cross your arms over your chest — it’s the signal you’d like to be prayed over); we shake hands and embrace one another, we even use incense at times to engage the olfactory (actually it’s a visual representing of our prayers rising up to heaven as a sweet-smelling sacrifice).
What else? There’s a lot of singing… usually very lively, different styles, and easy to join in. And then there’s PEOPLE… all sorts, young and old, student and non-student, they come as they are (usually late) but they know they’re in the right place to join their lives to Jesus… to encounter God’s wisdom, love and grace.
What if I don’t know anyone at Mass?
Funny thing about Mass? Nobody’s a stranger really and you’re not alone. Easier said than felt… but probably the easiest thing to do would be to introduce yourself to one of our priests or staff before or after Mass… let him/them know… you’re new/used but been away for a while/just starting college/have questions/want to become involved/interested in the Catholic Church or whatever… you won’t feel like a stranger anymore.