I had another conversation with my seminarian buddy… (I’m in black, he’s in red):
“I’m going to mass just now for what seems like the first time. Well, it is the first time since I actually became aware of where I am and what is happening on the altar. Actually I’m terrified. Say a little prayer for me! And thank you for opening my eyes to the fact that I am the ACTUAL crucifixion and the ACTUAL resurrection – not just a re-enactment of the last supper.
I was praying for you throughout Mass today. So…I’m dying to ask…how was your experience of Mass today then now that you know what’s really going on?!
Mass today… Just like we discussed, I put myself at the foot of the cross with mother Mary, Mary Magdalene and John. But I kept having to get up, sit down, get up, kneel down, get up….. And I kept having to respond to the priest which was interrupting my concentration.
I felt Jesus very clearly during the consecration enter my heart, and I was not afraid of being at the foot of the cross with the others – His Mother etc. and also my parents and the rest of the congregation. I understand now that there is no separation between the church militant and the church triumphant during Mass. None at all.
NONE at all! You’re absolutely right. Someone commented on the book of Revelation on your blog post – absolutely correct, the Lamb is adored for ever in the heavenly liturgy as one standing as if slain. This is WONDERFUL news Clare. Wonderful news. I would say, also, that the ‘having to respond’ thing is a frequent comment of those who go a bit deeper into the spirituality of the Mass – responding is somehow ‘inclusive’ on one level, but on another, it misses the point. I don’t think responding means you are participating more fully – in many cases, you participate less fully by responding because you don’t get the chance to pray.
…And then, as we were all standing there at the foot of the cross, contemplating this intimate declaration of love between God and mankind, alongside Christ’s grieving mother, someone taped me on the shoulder and with a big grin wanted to shake my hand!
It was totally out of place. I dropped to my knees instead. I’m not sure I’m ever going to be able to give the sign of peace again.
The way I look at it is this – I’d really rather not, but that’s because my understanding of the Mass is very different from those for whom the sign of peace is more significant. I suppose, I tend to do it on auto-pilot and I don’t move from the spot I’m in unless it would cause misunderstanding.
If you believe the Mass is a re-enactment of the last supper the sign of peace is great! It totally fits into place with what the disciples would have been doing – chatting and socialising round the dinner table. Before today I was a hugger and a kisser at the sign of peace! But now I cannot think of a more inappropriate gesture at that’d point in the Mass. What it achieves is to take ones attention away from the foot of the cross and instead directs it at each other. It’s nothing short of diabolical. At the most intimate part of the Mass – seconds before we receive the risen Jesus in holy Eucharist, the focus switches onto MAN. Surely it makes much more sense to have it at the beginning of Mass – the natural time to greet each other.
Seriously – if you are standing at the foot of the cross, would it be appropriate to smile and offer mother Mary a hand shake?!? When did people start doing this anyway? Who’s crazy idea was it? Whoever put this in place either did not understand what is happening at mass, or they deliberately wanted to move the focus away from Christ.
I don’t know where handshaking comes from. In the Roman Rite, the Kiss of Peace was done in two ways – at Solemn Masses between the clergy, in hierarchical order and soberly, whilst amongst the people a white disc called the ‘Pax Brede’ was passed around for each individual to kiss and hand on – they did not greet each other and certainly did not shake hands.
I’m going to have to look into this…”