The Catholic Liturgy entails many things. We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing, and to remember what He has done for us. We listen to sacred scripture and see how the Old and New Testaments are connected. We gather as one family united in our faith in the Lord, but most importantly we gather to celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and His presence in the Eucharist.
I have not always been Catholic. In fact I was raised as a Protestant. In my religious past, I was raised as a Wesleyan, trained as a Baptist, and ordained as a Lutheran. I am ashamed to say that when I first came into the Church I came for the wrong reasons and did not believe everything the Church taught, especially regarding the Eucharist. I came back to the Church in 2011 after researching the Church Fathers, councils, and catechism. So the liturgy has a special place for me, since I took it for granted for so long.
It used to be when the Gloria and penitential rites were recited, I would say them just to say them. I would often look at the ground because I could not wait for, what I thought was a mindless prayer, to be over. Since I have come back, I see some people tearing up when these things happen. I find myself doing that as well because it is deeply personal. I am sorry and I am truly asking my fellow believers for their forgiveness in not believing. Most that I sit next to know my story and always encourage me. They say that Christ has forgiven me. It truly feels like I am home.
Since I have been back, I see Christ leading the Mass thru the priest. This is especially evident to me during the consecration of the bread and wine. The priest says the very words of Christ up on the altar. I had a priest tell me that when he was ordained, he gave his body and life to Christ so Christ can work and speak thru him. I also see this in sacred scripture, especially in regards to John chapter 6. Marcus Grodi states “In fact, all of chapter six directly addresses why so many have concluded they must be Catholic, for one of the primary themes of this powerful chapter is winnowing: thinning down the crowd to those who truly believe (Grodi, page 87).” Everything came real a couple weeks after I came back to the Church. I was about to receive the body of Christ and I uttered the words “My Lord and my God” involuntarily. It was as if my soul burst out in worship. I was one of the ones in John six that left, but now I was home and had no doubts.
In the Liturgy of the Word I see Christ being systematically revealed through all of salvation history. The church has put in a lot of hard work to show us this. The Church, in the liturgy, shows us the passages that help explain each other. A reading in the Old Testament may seem obscure, but when paired with its New Testament counterpart it makes sense. We see Christ at work here, not only through the magisterium of the Church, but through history. Though I read the Bible very often when I was involved in other traditions, there was something different about doing it in the Catholic Church. As a global family, we are reading the same thing no matter where we are in the world. A parish member in Ethiopia will be hearing the same thing as I am in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to this, the scriptures elaborate on each other. In the Protestant traditions I was a part of, we may read three or for verses from a particular book, and the Pastor would tell us what it means. This is not all bad, but things could easily be taken out of context. The Church has a New Testament passage fulfilling and elaborating on an Old Testament passage. Not only is it explained more thoroughly, but the proper context is maintained.
Lastly the offering of peace has had a lasting impression on me since my return to the Church. In a Fundamentalist environment, if we disagree, I am obligated to cut off all communication with you. I witnessed this first hand where I was basically ordered to cut ties with a childhood friend because of a doctrinal difference.
We have it a little better in the Church. There is little doubt in my mind that I have disagreements with my brothers and sisters sitting next to me. They may think I am the most moronic person in the world, but we offer each other the greeting of peace regardless. No matter our faults or differences, we shake each other’s hands. In symbolism, this says that we accept each other just as we are. We support each other and challenge each other to get better.
As previously stated I am a revert to the Church. I had to leave to see just how good I had it. The Mass is a glimpse of what it is going to be like in Heaven. We will constantly be praising God and will be with our church family. Mass is something my family looks forward to every week, whereas before, it was something I dreaded. I partook of the Eucharist in an unworthy manner, and now I can hardly contain myself when it is my turn to partake. When I am at Mass, I am at home. There is really no other way for me to describe it. I am fed by sacred scripture, a homily, and the Eucharist. I am not proud of the path I took to get to the Church, but it is one I do not regret either. My Protestant brothers and sisters taught me how to love Christ and have a relationship with Him, but it is fulfilled here in the Church and the Mass.
Grodi, Marcus. Thoughts On The Journey Home. 2010, CH Resources