by Kaitlin Houlton
What is a Catholic “Mass?”
To begin, let’s dive into the meaning of the word “Mass.” Mass is derived from the Latin word “Missio,” which means missionary and sent. Therefore, Mass is to be sent. Jesus is sent down to us during Mass. At the end of Mass we are sent to be missionaries for Christ, with the last words of the Mass, “Ita missa est,” or “Go, you have been sent.”
In general, Mass is where we can encounter and receive Christ, be reminded of Jesus’s sacrifice, and praise God. The Mass has two parts: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. In the Liturgy of the Word, three passages are read from the Bible. The third passage is the Gospel, where we are told about Jesus’s life. Throughout the Liturgy of the Word, we hear God’s words spoken to us. We are invited to listen to what God might be saying to us through the Scriptures. In the Liturgy of the Eucharist, bread and wine are offered as gifts. The priest carries out what Jesus did at the Last Supper. Jesus is made present in the bread and wine through transubstantiation, when the bread and wine are transformed into Jesus’s flesh and blood. Then, baptized Catholics are able to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
The Mass could be intimidating if you have never been, but know all are welcome and we would be excited for you to experience the beautiful sacrament of Mass.
“I love Sunday Suppers at Newman because they remind me of home- it’s just like eating a meal with my family but about 60 people bigger! It’s a perfect time to relax before finishing any last minute homework, enjoy the company of old and new friends, eat a home-cooked meal before the school week starts again.” -Lydia Prebish
“Mass is boring…”
Is praising God and receiving the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ boring? I hope not. Always remember the overall goal of coming to Mass, to experience and praise Christ. God sent and sacrificed His only Son for us. The Mass is a way to thank God and give glory to Him. If you remember this, hopefully you won’t be bored, but experience the love of God and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
If remembering that you are experiencing God and receiving Jesus still isn’t enough to get you excited and get your attention at Mass, learn more about the Mass. Why certain prayers and words are said and how the Mass is derived from the Scriptures. Trust me, knowing the history and the meaning behind everything that is done at Mass will leave you truly amazed and never bored.
“I love having different Mass times throughout the week. I’m able to incorporate my faith into my everyday routine and it’s a great way to unwind after classes and relax around all the awesome people I’ve come to know.” -Maria Simon
I do not know what is going on…
Whether you have gone to Mass your whole life or this is your first time, Mass can be confusing. We have all had moments when we wonder what is going on or wondering why we are doing something, don’t fear, instead open your ears, mind, and, most importantly, your heart. Listen to the words being said, think about how God might be speaking to you through the Scriptures and prayers. Take all of that into your heart. If you do that, trust me, you will never feel lost.
If this is your first time at Mass, you might not know the words at first, but you will catch on. If you go to Mass regularly and still have the “what is going on?” moment, I encourage you to learn more information about the Mass. Read a book about it or talk to a Peer Minister or FOCUS missionary. We are here to help and want you to experience God’s love and grow closer to Him through Mass.
“How can I get more out of Mass?”
Step one, come prepared. Try reading the readings before you get to Mass. You would never go to class unprepared, right? Well, Mass is a time for you to learn and grow closer to God. Reading the readings ahead of time can allow you to focus and mediate on them while they are being read. Every additional time you hear Scripture, you are giving God another chance to speak to you. Additionally, if you feel there is something that has come between you and God, go to confession before Mass. The best way to receive Jesus and get the most out of Mass is to be free from sin.
Step two, pay attention. I mean really pay attention. Listen to the words being spoken and the words coming out of your mouth. Think about how they can relate to your life and open your heart. Let God speak to you and take what He has to say and apply it to your life. Watch and hopefully be amazed as ordinary bread and wine is turned into the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. Really focusing on what is being said, what is going on, and remembering that you are receiving the flesh and blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ can really take Mass to a whole new level.
Still, if you feel you aren’t getting much out of Mass, I encourage you to do your homework in a sense. Read about the Mass or talk to someone about it. Learning the Biblical basis and rich history of the Mass can help you gain a better understanding and get more out of Mass.
“I haven’t been to Mass in awhile…”
So? You can go to Mass now. Don’t worry about what you have or have not done in the past because you can start fresh now. That is the amazing thing about God, He is merciful and always forgiving. God wants you to praise and grow closer to Him. He will joyfully welcome you back! So, come to Mass and try it out again, hopefully you will find yourself drawn to Mass and deepen your relationship with God. It might not happen right away, but, trust me, if you keep coming, God will show His love to you. If you are really passionate about trying this whole Mass thing out again, I would encourage you to try daily Mass. It is usually only takes 40 minutes and making time for Jesus everyday can truly transform your life.
“Eucharist Adoration at Newman serves as my weekly hiatus from the craziness that comes with college. It gives me a chance to step back and spend time in quiet, contemplative prayer with the Lord and refocus on what is truly important amidst all the distractions of my daily life. Being able to set apart a holy hour each week has been a true blessing in my life and is something that I will continue to take advantage of during my time on campus.” -Matthew Wells
“I don’t know anyone…”
That’s okay! I am sure there have been many times in your life when you have been in a situation where you don’t know anyone and it turned out okay. But seriously, don’t worry, strangers are never strangers long at the Newman Center. We love seeing new faces and welcome them with open arms. Please feel free to contact or talk to any of the Peer Ministers, FOCUS missionaries, or Fr. Bryan Ketterer, we are glad to have you and want to make you feel comfortable and help you get the most out of Mass!
Jesus and music are two of my favorite things and what better way to spend time with our Lord than to have music during Adoration! Face2face nights, Adoration with praise and worship music, are the perfect way to take time away from your hectic college schedule and to really focus on your relationship with Jesus Christ.” -Erin Jones