Recent posts by RedCardigan such as And Sometimes Tea: Let the Mass be the Mass and And Sometimes Tea: Obedience and the Liturgy (or, Let Go, Already!) prompt me to elaborate on the 'continuity' theme discussed in Pneuma & Einstein. RedC stated, in reference to liturgy and its, ummm, variants, "The liturgy matters. And obedience in the liturgy, especially, matters." And I agree. In any given year, I probably attend Mass at 3 or 4 different parishes, and reflect on the likely effects of different ways of doing liturgy, i.e., effects upon the congregation, the servers, the priest. But as we know, the Mass is not just an Earthly process, but a Heavenly one as well, which makes me wonder, might changes in Liturgy affect the invisible parts of Mass as well? I don't know. It just occurs to me.
Critical to my thinking are ideas expressed by others, such as in A Short Primer on the Mass...by I. Shawn McElhinney, wherein he quotes Dr. Jeff Mirus: "Catholic worship is not primarily about what we do for Christ, but about what Christ does for us......The Mass is first and foremost an action of Christ Himself......while a non-Catholic worship service is a human action, the Catholic Mass is a Divine action."
And Fr. Dwight Longenecker says in one of his books (I can't remember which, and so I paraphrase here), sacrifice opens a temporary door between Heaven and Earth; the sacrifice goes up, grace comes down.
I envision this door, this connection, as a wormhole, (French: trou de ver) which in this case doesn't connect two remote parts of spacetime; rather, it briefly connects spacetime to heaven. (And I wouldn't tell the kids this, but Jesus was a sort of wormhole connecting heaven to earth for 30 odd years.)
When we cover the Liturgy of the Eucharist in 6th grade, a major idea is that Mass takes place simultaneously in Heaven and Earth.
What do we call it when we go to church on Sunday? Mass. Yes. But over in the gym, where St. Rafka's meets, they don't call it Mass, they call it the Divine Liturgy. Mass is a Latin word, so Liturgy is probably....? Greek! Yes. Different words for the same thing. East and West. By the way, Liturgy means work, more or less: the -urgy is like the -ergy in energy. So Divine Liturgy means what? Divine Work? Yes. And if it's Divine Work, who's doing the work? God? Yes, God, and of course we and the priest do some work too, but God does most of the work....as usual. Why doesn't God mind doing most of the work? Because he loves us. Yes. (a recurring question)
The kids already know the priest is an alter Christus. I draw an altar and a priest, and then some clouds above (clouds = heaven, see?) with Jesus and a couple of angels on them. Then I ask the children to describe any time-travel/ magic-door/ Stargate sort of movies they've seen (e.g., Lion/Witch/Wardrobe). Then we discuss how something similar happens at Mass, and I draw a wormhole/tornado connecting the clouds to the priest & altar. We note that we say 'Holy, Holy, Holy' and burn incense here, and the angels in Revelations do the same in Heaven, too. And at Mass we hear the priest say, "Almighty God, we pray that your angel may take this sacrifice to your altar in heaven. Then, as we receive from this altar the sacred body and blood of your Son, let us be filled with every grace and blessing." A quick quote from Rev 8 shows the Catholics aren't just making all this up: "And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne."
Then we discuss how as a tornado can briefly connect the ground to the clouds, so can God create an invisible link from Heaven to Earth during Mass.
Trick question! Is the invisible link only spiritual? Yes!....wait, No!...Yes.......?
OK, when Jesus ascended, did his body separate from his soul? No! It went up, too.
And why didn't Jesus' soul & body separate? Because he didn't commit any sins! He couldn't die.
Right...Jesus' parts don't separate due to sin (except on the Cross, God died...they know).....what's his other part, besides the human part? He's God, too.
And would the God and Man parts separate? No.
So, Jesus ascended...to where, the beach, the mall? Ha! to Heaven! Oh yeah, right...and where's his body? It's in Heaven, too. Yes....because His parts don't....? Don't separate!
Yes. So, at Mass, when God creates a special connection for a little while, the angel carries our offering up to heaven. What comes back down to us? The angel? I don't know, maybe...I'm looking for something else...let me read this again and you tell me what comes down:
"Almighty God, we pray that your angel may take this sacrifice to your altar in heaven. Then, as we receive from this altar the sacred body and blood of your Son.....Jesus! Jesus comes down!
Yes. Jesus comes down....just spiritually? No his body, too. Because...? The parts don't separate! Yeah? I look around at Mass, I don't see Him.....he's in the bread and wine. That's right. But to believe that, I need what? Faith. Yes. You know, I have to pray for faith every time I go up for Communion, because it just looks like bread to me.
So, back to the holy tornado that connects the earth altar and the heavenly altar: is that link just spiritual? No it's physical, too. Yes. because Jesus comes down spiritually and....? Physically. Which is nice, because Jesus has what two natures.....? Human and God. Yes, and they don't ever...? Separate. And we have two parts......? bodyandsoulandtheyshouldn'tseparate either! (learned early on in the year and regularly reviewed).
So when we are at Mass, body & soul, Jesus is there body and soul, too.
And if heaven and earth are not separated in all these ways at Mass, if we aren't behaving properly, not singing, looking around, daydreaming, nose-picking (EEeeeww!), could that affect what goes on in Heaven? Ehhh...ummmm....
Something to think about, maybe? Ehhh.....
OK class over, go to Mass this weekend and pay God some attention!