Monday, September 20, 2010

Fr. Paul Keller, OP: On the Mass (part 1)

The Teen Liturgy Committee will be attending Fr. Paul Keller's class on the Mass (Thursdays at 7:30pm in the School Cafeteria) for its duration. Each week, one of the teens will post a short reflection of what the class covered. Sebastian Misleh offers his reflection as the first part of our series. Feel free to comment below the post with any thoughts or questions.

When a man creates an automobile, he wants it to work the way he intended, namely by filling it with the proper gasoline. If another man decides it’s much less expensive to fill his car with water, it will indeed be less expensive, but it will also be a lot less effective.

God, who created everything, wants everything to work the way He intended. The Mass is what God created for us so that we might not only worship and glorify Him, but be saved by Him.

The Mass is about God.

Unfortunately, the changes of the Second Vatican Council have seemingly inspired us, the lay congregation, to make the Mass all about us. But because of this, we are not fed, in the one place where we should be filled. Through the proper practice of the Mass, God is able to fill us with what we need the most. But we must be open to Him; we must be vulnerable. By taking the Mass into our own hands, we become less vulnerable and willing to the do the work of God and more focused on how we would like to see the Mass done and what we get out of it.

If a chef is cooking for you, do you tell him how to prepare your meal, or do you accept what he gives you? And which meal tastes better?

There has been much abuse in the Liturgy over the past fifty years, and though the lay people who worked towards it claim it is in the better interest of the Church and will ultimately benefit the Church as a whole, how come Churches have become more and more empty since the new translation?

The Liturgy has become more human, and thus more shallow. It is in human nature to want things greater than ourselves, yet we accept a more human Mass because it is more “relatable.”

We shouldn’t be able to “relate” to the Mass. If we can, we wouldn’t be on Earth, we’d be in Heaven already.

The Mass is not about what we get out of the Mass by our own power; it’s about what we receive from God through God. The Mass is about worshiping the Lord and being open to his graces. A greater act of love calls for a greater response. Jesus Christ committed the ultimate act of love, and so we are called to make the ultimate response in giving ourselves fully to God during, before, and after Mass. And with a greater response comes a greater reception of God’s love.

And we want God's love. We want greater things. We want more than just mediocrity and relatability. We can find that anywhere. The Mass should be the one place where we are filled with more of the greatest things in creation until we overflow. But we must be vulnerable. We must be humble and accepting of God's Will rather than our own.


  1. I enjoyed reading this reflection and was bummed that I had to miss the first session due to a schedule conflict. The analogy about the chef helped me wrap my mind around what Fr. Keller was saying.

    Too often we settle for less. In many ways we've lost our upward thrust...looking toward that which is above, that which is greater than ourselves. Why is this?

  2. So often I hear, and I myself fall into the trap of thinking, "I just didn't get anything out of mass." I hear this especially in comparing the mass at one church to a mass at another church. However, the question is not what we get out of mass, but instead what we put into it. The mass isn't about what we get, but what we give. And when it is no longer about us it doesn't matter where we go to mass, only that we are fully present wherever we are.

  3. I liked what you said about that, Andrea. I sometimes feel the same way, that I get more out of Mass at a certain Church, or sometimes even where I sit or if I'm serving or singing. The reality of it is that none of these external things should be as large of a factor as we make them out to be. Sure, some of them are inevitable (baby crying, tall guy in front blocking your view, sitting next to Brad), but I think that with the right focus in mind, they can be overcome by giving yourself more fully to the Mass.