Monday, February 1, 2016

The Liturgy of my Past, Present, and Future

Ever since I can remember, I was taught by my parents that the Mass is the highest form of thanksgiving.  That time, I cannot understand the reason of it being the highest form of thanksgiving.  They did not explained to me the reason behind their statement but I did not asked anyway.  I will be in very big trouble if I missed a Sunday Mass without any valid reason.  I did not really like attending Mass at all back then.  But still, I obeyed my parents.  It was like blind obedience.  I was happy whenever I get sick during a Sunday.  That means, I can skip attending Mass.

Throughout my life, I studied in Catholic Schools that are run by Friars and Brothers.  I have Theology and Religious Education subjects throughout my school life starting from pre-school to college.  Yet I did not learn how to appreciate the significance of the Mass.  Everyday each class is required to attend the community Mass. We also have this so-called “Red Mass” which is I think is the Mass of the Holy Spirit.  We also have first Friday Mass and lots of other Masses that are significant to the institution.  I am happy that there will be Masses because that means we will have to skip the classes that are supposed to be during the time of the Mass.
Thinking about it, why is it that the theology of liturgy was not taught in school even I had a course which is called Church and the Sacraments?  Or probably I was just not listening the whole time. It was like receiving sacraments yet I do not understand what I am receiving. I can say that all the sacraments that I received all this time were invalid since I do not know its meaning.  I always felt that I am doing something without any purpose.  I am beginning to think that learning the real essence of Liturgy is somewhat exclusive for those who are taking theology courses.  Aside from that, never in my Mass attendance did I ever hear the presiders incorporate the greatness of Christ above all the other holy people and saints.  They could have mentioned about Christ as the sole mediator between humans and God.  They mentioned that Christ died for our sins to save us therefore; we should have faith in Christ and share it.  I did not felt that it is God who went down for us through Christ.  The concept of the divine and human nature of Christ did not cross my mind.  Of course, I learned that we were saved from our sins.  But I felt nothing knowing about it.   

We were taught that Christ is the one who already suffered for us and we no longer need to die for our sins.  Christ already died on the cross once and for all for us.  We only do its remembrance during the Mass and we do not have to feel the pain anymore.  Still, even knowing about it, making Christ as the center of our worship is not our real focus.  Many of us are engrossed to praying to the saints more than to Christ.  Although the prayers and devotions to the saints include that it is through Jesus Christ, we are more fixated on how those saints will be our intercession to God for our requests.  For our prayers, most of the time, we are praying for the things that we desire.  Maybe I should try praying less for all my earthly desires.

Now it has come to my mind that if perhaps I had learned to appreciate the Mass in my earlier years, I would have start attending daily Masses when I was still younger.  It has only been a year since I started attending daily Masses.  I am still unsure on why I changed from not wanting to attend Sunday Mass to wanting to attend daily Mass.  I just happened to be walking home and I passed by our Parish.  I saw that it was opened, so I went inside.  The Mass then started so I end up staying the whole time.  It felt good even though I still did not “felt genuinely” my purpose for attending the Mass.  And I went again the following day and so on.    During that time, the term “Liturgy of the Hours” was new to me.  The Morning Prayer was prayed before the morning Mass and the Evening Prayer before the evening Mass.  Now, they do not pray it with the Parishioners anymore. I was not really fascinated praying it because I find it very long.  But later on, I slowly began to like it and downloaded the app for my tablet so I can pray it also.  I also have the book version but it drives me crazy and it takes too much of my time because of the unending flipping of the pages.  I do not regularly pray the Liturgy of the Hours that is why I never mastered the use of the ribbons and the flipping of pages.  Now, I was thinking maybe I should set aside more time to pray the Liturgy of the Hours.  Since it sanctifies the hours in the morning and evening, it will compliment the Daily Mass.  The Mass is the highest form of thanksgiving.  So by praying the Liturgy of the Hours, the time that I am thanking God is extended.  Maybe it can also be a way for me to learn how to love that thick prayer book.  It does feel better to have to touch each leaf of paper than to just scrolling down the screen using my index finger.

I now have my affirmation that I am not that anti-traditional Parishioner.  I am not really into Saints and other Church devotions.  I just want to attend the Mass.  I tried not to arrive at the Church too early or else the daily devotion is not yet finished.  Aside from the daily devotions, there are also novenas for various Marian Feasts and other saints.  I would not know if they are praying or just reciting the prayers.  I sometimes find them annoying.  The sound system is good but the way they deliver the prayers is terrible.  They are like fast and the furious speaking as fast as they could because they have more prayers to recite in line. Now that I have learned that my being not participative during those many novenas is not a bad thing, I am no longer guilty of being a subversive Parishioner.  I really think of their actions as idolatry.  They touch the image of the statues of the saints and say their prayers.  Well, at least they do the sign of the cross.  That means the intercession that they needed from those certain saints is still through Jesus Christ.  Personally, I do not really rely on saints.  I prayed to them before.  But a decade ago, most of them failed me.  I noticed that when I directed my prayers to God, they seem to be more effective.  Another reason that I am not enthusiastic in praying to saints is that most of my relatives are not Catholics.  They do not invite me to join their religion, not that I wanted to anyway.  They influenced me that I should direct my prayers to God through Jesus.  I think that is a good thing.  So, most of the time, I am scrutinizing those who are so devoted into touching those statues as if those objects are the ones miraculous.  I am not against their beliefs and devotions.  But in my opinion, they can just pray without the thought that those objects have super powers.  Now I realized that both Catholics and non-Catholics Christians have the teachings that the way to God is only through Jesus Christ.  But how come those non-Catholics are mostly the ones following it and the Catholics ended up being accused of paganism?

There is a short coming in my part.  These are all just in my head and I am not very assertive stating what I think.  I am a passive Parishioner and I am not a member of any organization.  It is like being selfish and I should try being more selfless.  It is very challenging because, again, these are only in my thoughts.  I have to accumulate enough confidence to say what I think is correct.  It can be one of my goals.  But, having to talk to many people freaks me out.  I will think and pray about it.

            As I think again, it seems like I have fallen without knowing.  I fell in love first to the Mass before academically knowing about it.  And now as I slowly, little by little know about it more, I am drawn to it more.  And learning more about the other sacraments is an additional benefit.

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