HE ROMAN RITE is a fascinating area of study. There are centuries upon centuries of history. There are multiple forms of the Rite, plus numerous rites that are in union with Rome. The options and variations related to the Novus Ordo alone are often a challenge to keep up with, but fascinating nonetheless.
Some people are put off by this. Some are bored to tears. I am fascinated. Why? Possibly there is something terribly wrong with me. Or, perhaps it is because the Church, in her infinite wisdom of the ages, has given us gift of the Mass which is something we can grow with during our entire lives.
It is like a great piece of music or great literature. As we mature, our understanding of the music or art grows. We gain additional insight from it. And so it is with the Mass, our greatest prayer.
Now, keeping track of all the rubrics, and the liturgical calendar, etc., etc., can be a bit much. We can handle it by being dismissive of it all, and simply say, “They don’t matter.” “There’s no point.” I don’t blame others for not finding this topic interesting. God calls us to be interested in different things.
We may learn “what” we are supposed to say, sing, wear, move, etc. during a given Mass. But what I find fascinating is the “why.”
Why are we worshiping God in the first place? God has no need of our worship, yet it is important for us to not only do so, but to center our lives around worship. Why are certain external movements or words important? God has no need for externals and expressed as much in Matthew 15. But they have something to do with the formation of what is internal, which is also impressed upon us in Matthew 15. This is fascinating.
This is an endless topic that cannot be addressed fully here. Of course it can’t. It is a beautiful pursuit of a lifetime.
Pope Benedict XVI wrote in Sacramentum Caritatis, no. 14:
The Church’s ability to ‘make’ the Eucharist is completely rooted in Christ’s self-gift to her…We too, at every celebration of the Eucharist, confess the primacy of Christ’s gift..the priority of the fact that it was Christ who loved us ‘first.’ For all eternity he remains the one who loves us first.”
Timothy P. O’Malley’s commentary on Benedict’s words are passionate:
”In this sense, our participation in the sacrifice of the Mass is a return gift of love offered to the God who made the first move of love toward us…He loves us first, and he loved us unto the end, dying upon the cross as a supreme act of love. And he still loves us, drawing us closer to his side.” (Bored Again Catholic, How the Mass Could Save Your Life, Pg. 31.)
HE MASS IS SUCH A JEWEL, that we can grow into it throughout our lives. The opportunity is simply there for the taking: if we give God all our love and devotion, offer Him our best, and return to God what He gave us first—His love.
Jesus’ love for us is a start to understanding every single “why.”