Eucharist Celebrated

The Eucharist celebrated focuses on how we celebrate the Mass and how we can participate in the liturgy more fully, consciously, and actively.

Why do Catholics have Mass?

At its simplest, the reason why Catholics celebrate Mass is because Jesus told us to do so. Disciples of Jesus are not simply people who admire Jesus for his teaching on how to live and how to treat others. Disciples of Jesus acknowledge him as master, as the authority in their own lives. Moreover, disciples of Jesus acknowledge him as God. Catholics are meant to live as disciples of Jesus in what they say and do.

We can never forget that on the night before Jesus died for us and for our salvation, he told the disciples of his time, “Do this in memory of me.” That command was not meant simply for those in the upper room with him. Rather, that command was meant for disciples of every time and place. That command was meant for us.  After all, Jesus is not dead. He is alive! That is what the resurrection means. And since he is alive, he continues to do now for us what he once did for the disciples in Galilee. His saving actions have not ended, and they have not changed.

Like the disciples in the upper room, we are meant to gather with Jesus when he breaks the bread for us and when he pours out the wine for us. As his words indicate, that bread becomes his body offered for us, and that wine becomes his blood sacrificed for us. Jesus does not lie. And so, if the disciples then could take him at his word, so can we take Jesus at His word in our time.

Who celebrates Mass?

At first glance, that seems like a simple question to answer. We look around at everyone who is at Mass and say, “We all do!” There is truth to that answer, but it is not the whole answer.

Yes, certainly all of us, priest and people together, celebrate the Eucharist. But first and foremost, the agent acting at the Eucharist is Jesus Christ himself. The Eucharist, like all the sacraments, is above all an action of the risen Jesus in our midst. In the Mass, Jesus makes present once again for us the same sacrifice he once offered to God the Father on the cross on Good Friday. Jesus, who is risen to life beyond space and time, still makes the offering of his life; that hasn’t ended.

What is the role of priests and parishioners at Mass?

Through baptism, we are all joined to Jesus. We become members of his body, as St. Paul teaches. To the extent we remain united to Jesus by faith, hope, and charity, like branches on the vine, Jesus associates us with him in making the offering of his life to the Father.  We are joined to him in his act of offering himself, and we join Jesus in offering ourselves to God the Father along with Jesus.

The priest represents Christ to the assembled community of believers, reminding them that really it is the risen Christ present and active in their very midst who shares his salvation with us during the Mass. Mass is not possible without the priest, but the priest is merely the instrument Christ uses to reach us in the here and now.

Neither the priest alone nor the baptized alone, but priest and baptized together with the risen Jesus make visible the body of Christ in the present. We become the instruments Jesus himself uses to renew in our time and place his great offering of his life to the Father. Jesus draws us into that mystery every time we gather in his name to offer thanks and praise to God in the Eucharist.

How can we become more actively engaged in the Mass?

We are not meant to be mere observers of Christ's sacrifice of the Mass but participants in it. We are the instruments Jesus himself uses to renew in our time and place his great offering of his life to the Father.

So how can we be sure we're doing our part and actively engaging in this great gift that Jesus has given us? Here are some thoughts:

  • Before you arrive at Mass, review and reflect on the readings. Echoing God's Word is one of many great resources.
  • Arrive a little early to allow yourself to prayerfully prepare yourself or the Mass. 
  • Genuflect in acknowledgment that you are in a sacred setting and in the presence of Our Lord.
  • Make sure you turn off and tuck away your phone and anything else that might distract you.
  • Fully participate by praying, singing, and giving responses.
  • Receive Communion reverently.
  • Don't rush out at the end of Mass. Linger to reflect on the Mass and to be with other members of your Church community.
  • Learn about the ministry positions at your parish and volunteer.


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