Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How old is Mass?

When I walked into my first Catholic Church at age 16, I was taken by the visual aspects: the windows, the candles, the vestments, the architecture of the building itself. One of the things our church has understood is that human beings use their senses to take in information and so our liturgy developed in ways that use all five of our senses: taste, touch, sight, sound and smell.

But when we strip the mass down to its most basic structure we see that we can trace it back all the way to the Emaus story in the gospel of Luke. First Jesus explains the scriptures to them. The first half of Mass we call the Liturgy of the Word. Then he took the bread, blessed it, broke it, gave it to his disciples. What does that sound like? It is the classic formula for the consecration of the Eucharist, the second half of Mass.

In a single gospel story we see the heart of what we Christians gather day after day, week after week to celebrate. In short, we call it mass.