“On that day, when those invited come to feast at the supper of the Lamb, on that day, when worshippers thunder mighty Alleluias, when the Lamb marries his bride in white linen, and when those who hold the testimony of Jesus witness his triumph—there will be joy, celebration, music, silence, dialogue, acclamation, and prayer. All will be swept up in the glory of God. No one will have to learn what to do! But until that day, we mortals gather at the supper of the Lamb on earth, in houses of worship, with our flawed capabilities to worship God as best we can and to give thanks for the greatest miracle of all—the marriage of Christ with the Church, the Eucharist, the banquet in which we feast with delight on the Lamb of God who unites with us. For now, we all have to learn what to do.”
(Paul Turner “At the Supper of the Lamb”)
The vision above should help us realise what we are doing at Mass. In the ancient prayer “O sacrum convivium”, Mass is described as “pignus futurae gloriae” - “the pledge of future glory.” Our Sunday Mass is literally a foretaste of heaven!
Saint John’s vision in the book of Revelation may also help us to appreciate the Mass more:
“After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, singing, ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.’
When we enter into Sunday Mass we are somehow stepping out of our own space and time, into God’s space and God’s time: we will be present at the Last Supper and tasting the glories of the future. We will be caught up in the worship of the Body of Christ, the Church, through space and time, one with the Apostles and early martyrs, one with the faithful still unborn, one with Christians at Mass in Washington and Weybridge, Rome and Richmond, Mumbai and Molesey, and everywhere in this and any world.
While we step out of our space and time, we do not forget it—we bring it with us. Just as the Eternal Word took our flesh to become truly human in the Incarnation, so we bring our joys and sorrows (and those of the world in which we live) to be caught up in the banquet and sacrifice of the New and Eternal Covenant in Jesus—we bring the world to Mass to be redeemed. And when we leave, we too have been changed—we have become what we receive, the Body of Christ, walking into a needy world once more to bring comfort and hope and healing and forgiveness to everyone we meet.
The Mass is like nothing else on earth. Value it. Treasure it. Love it. And above all let it always be the most profound and moving encounter with Jesus our loving Lord