Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Consider you funeral for just a moment.  (Don’t worry this won’t be morbid.)  Now consider John Paul II’s funeral.  Do you see a lot of difference?  There might be less than you think.

In comparison with JP II’s funeral our will seem a modest affair but in their essentials they are much the same.  Consider the huge building that is St. Peter’s and the thousands of clergy, the heads of state, the mobs of people, and all the media piping the ceremony all over the world.  At the heart of all that, the whole things boils down to a few square feet of table, one principal celebrant saying a set of words, exactly what it will boil down to at our Mass.  Granted, there is a lot more gewgaw at the Vatican, but that is like the doily under the cake: while pretty and worthwhile if it is there, you can’t eat it and you only look at it long enough to scoop your slice of cake up off of it.  The important thing is the cake!

I have prayed Masses in straw and mud churches in Zimbabwe and at St. Peter’s at the Vatican.  My prayers changed not one jot between the two.  I may have had to walk further, wear different quality vestments, surrounded by different quality art, but the Mass was the Mass for those who were there and what was important came down to a few square feet on the mensa of an altar, bread made from wheat and flour, and plain wine. 

In this way kings and paupers are buried alike.  Third world countries and first receive Jesus from the same Mass.  Christ is equally present to all.  That is the genius of Christ’s institution of the Mass at which He is always the principal celebrant.  It is what shows you that in God’s eyes, you are anyone’s equal in the inheritance of heaven.  Strip away the bells and whistles, everyone’s Mass sounds the same. 

This is another reason why priests have no right to change parts of the Mass.  It is not theirs to change.  Each person has a right to the Mass as the Church celebrates it and an obligation to celebrate Mass as the Church celebrates it.  Thereby we are fed with the same spiritual food, we are baptized with the same water, we are confirmed with the same oil, we are forgiven with the same formula, we are bound in matrimony with the same vows, we are healed with the same ceremony and are buried with the same Mass.  No man made institution has ever accomplished such a feat. 


MJ said...

Great post. I especially like the last paragraph.

Anonymous said...

Nice post, father. I take issue with the cake image, though. That thing looks like ground Spam with a mashed potato frosting. Ick! (comment intended to be mildly funny and not disrespectful, BTW.)

Sara B. said...

Father - great post! I remember my Dad's stories of serving Mass aboard ships in WWII - kneeling on the steel floors. Recently visited the USS N. Carolina and saw the alter - and cried. That was how I learned The Mass was The Mass wherever Catholics celebrate it. It is amazing. Peace. Sara B.