The title to this post, “The Ordinary Approach to Mass” is misleading. We don’t need sophisticated data to tell us it is no longer ordinary to go to Mass. Personal experience, even with loved ones raised in the Church, clearly show loss of the practice of our faith. Even those who claim to believe in God, more often than not, claim to be “spiritual, not religious,” as if that were more honorable than gathering to worship with others and in communion with the Tradition Jesus Himself practiced.
I find myself cringing to think of my own past. I went to church every Sunday but when asked where I see God, I was known to have said that I see Him in rainbows and sunshine and hikes up mountains. I’d say I could celebrate Him in a child’s laughter and the hug of a loved one and so on.
It is not that God does not exist in these things. He very much does. In fact, seeing God in this way is one of the cornerstones of Ignatian Spirituality. The issue is when we failed to recognize Him in the Mass and in the Eucharist as He comes to us in the physical presence of the Body of Christ.
It’s easy to point fingers of blame about where that failure came from…Vatican II took the Sacredness from the Celebration. Our generation was poorly catechized. As a whole, we have become social Catholics as opposed to devout Catholics. The list could go on indefinitely.
But if we want to live with clarity and courage, we must stop looking back and look at this moment. We must stop inward rather than outward for answers in the here and now.
This requires the acceptance of personal responsibility without demolishing the desire for good growing inside us. Although many entities have contributed to our failure to understand the truth of our faith and the Body of Christ, at some point, we each need to be accountable for our own research, our own decisions, our own failings, and our own devotion.
Today, in answer to God’s call to Live, Not Ordinary and to try to increase my devotion, I did what few Catholics do: I went to a Traditional Latin Mass.
I don’t understand all of what is said or of what goes in in the TLM, but I love that the book explains much of the Mass in the margins. It points out what the priest is praying when it appears he is silent or mumbling. It gives reasons for hand positions and English translations for Latin text.
While I might not understand every word said at the Traditional Latin Mass, I learn something new every time. Today did not disappoint!
I opened the little red missalette I borrow to try to follow along and there, on one of the first pages, was a note I’d never seen before. This note stated the Four Ends of the Mass, which I’m taking to mean goals or purposes. In all my years of going to Mass, I’d never heard of the Four Ends of the Mass and so figured maybe other “ordinary” people hadn’t but might benefit from hearing about it too.
The Four Ends of the Catholic Mass
The four ends of the Catholic Mass are Adoration, Thanksgiving, Reparations, and Petitions. As my devotion grows and I am less stuck in defending my beliefs and more open to learning something new and amazing, I realize how backwards so much of my life has been.
In and out of Mass, I tend go to God first with my petitions. Petitions take up the majority of my time. Often they are not petitions for myself but for family, friends, coworkers, students, strangers, and souls who have no one to pray for them. The last is one of my favorite and most heart breaking intentions.
Like I said, petitions take up most of my time. Time left over, generally goes to reparation where I find myself beating myself up for things I perceive as faults but may be overly harsh criticism of myself as I mentally berate myself, not for sinning, but for not being good enough or being stupid or whatever. By doing so, I do not really seek reparation. I really deny the gift of me God has given me. In some ways, these reparations are also disguised petitions. My “Forgive me for talking badly about that person again Lord; I am so stupid,” could easily be exchanged for, “Please stop that person from hurting me again Lord so I don’t have to feel this pain and can stop seeking healing from others.” There is so much wrong in what I say in these moments. They are certainly not reparations for the suffering I cause Christ.
Mixed between my second and third “end” is Thanksgiving. I thank God for the good in my life. I’ve kept a gratitude practice for years and have gotten to the point I can. Being trained by Green Berets and Navy SEALS amplified this and I can find good and beauty fairly easily most days. At least I give Thanks fairly regularly and sincerely at most Masses – if my attention doesn’t wander!
My final end is Adoration, but as I sat in Mass today, I asked what it means to truly Adore Christ. I didn’t have an exact answer. What’s worse, is, I wondered if in all of my petitions, I was adoring my desires, dreams, goals, and reputation, over Adoring Our Lord. Even when I tried to Adore Our Lord, I found myself saying, “Lord please help me know what to means to Adore You.” This was a beautiful petition, but a totally inadequate Adoration. It made me realize again how we need Our Savior I am. My Adoration, that was really just another Petition albeit a worthy one, gently reminds me how in adequate even my best attempts at honoring all I’ve been given are.
How little we know of Adoring Our Lord!
Is it any wonder so many are falling away from the faith? How can we change that? We cannot change overnight, and we cannot change anyone but ourselves. It is in seeing us Live, Not Ordinary that others come to believe. It is through Adoration, even more than Petition, that we change.
To Live, Not Ordinary, means to take personal responsibility. As a child we had little influence over our faith journeys. We do not have such excuses now.
It is time to get priorities straight by changing from prioritizing Petitions, even righteous ones, to prioritizing Adoration.
Lord, help us do so! 🙂
Gratitude Journal – May 1, 2023
Thank you Lord for…
- Meema coming to TLM with me today.
- Meema helping me follow along.
- Seeing the Four Ends of the Mass, which will change my focus and my approach.
- Hope to understand how to apply the Four Ends better!
- S coming to visit this morning!
- Coffee – a Sunday in Easter treat!
- Ice cream – too much of it – another Sunday in Easter treat!
- Saint Ignatian Spirituality.
- The Spiritual Exercises which are teaching me so much!!!
- The Presumption of Good.
- Understanding gas lighting is also a thing.
- Praying for discernment.
- A clean house.
- My Pillow body pillow tonight! 🙂