By Tom Quiner
Those were the words from a buddy of mine. Dave was an evangelical Christian. He died earlier this year. I think about his comments often, because they represent the typical misunderstanding many Protestants have about Catholicism.
As background, Dave married a Catholic woman. To bridge the gap in their faith lives, they chose to attend church together twice each Sunday. First, they’d go to Dave’s evangelical church; then they’d attend Catholic Mass.
Having attended evangelical worship services on many occasions, I know salvation is a typical theme of their sermons.
By contrast, salvation is not the typical theme of Catholic homilies. Why? Because the entire Mass itself is built around the theme of salvation. Catholics worship like our Church Fathers did with a glorious focus on Eucharist. The Catechism of the Catholic Church simply defines the Mass as …
… the Eucharist or principal sacramental celebration of the Church, established by Jesus at the Last Supper, in which the mystery of our salvation through participation in the sacrificial death and glorious Resurrection of Christ is renewed and accomplished.
Salvation. That is the heart and soul of Mass. The Mass …
… renews the paschal sacrifice of Christ as the sacrifice offered the Church. It is called “mass” (from the Latin missa) because of the “mission” or “sending” with which the liturgical celebration concludes.
The power and majesty of the Mass is ALL about salvation. In every single Mass, whether it was the one I attended in a tiny A-frame church in Seward, Alaska, last month, or the one I attended yesterday in a jaw-dropping basilica in Dyersville, Iowa … in every single one of them, heaven and earth touch. All the angels, all the saints are united with man to sing our praise to the Trinitarian God who created us, who saved us through the Paschal Sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, the Christ.
Pope Benedict XVI simply describes the Mass as the “liturgy of heaven.” Beautiful.
Man is a sensual creature, so God created the Mass to be sensual. All of our senses are engaged in the worship of our Creator. At the moment of communion, the Real Presence of Christ is with us, body, blood, soul, and divinity. In the most intimate act of our lives, we pour Christ’s boundless love into our very being by consuming the consecrated bread and wine.
Heaven and earth kiss!
Our mortal senses may not be able to comprehend the magnitude of the event, but our soul perceives more than we can imagine. And what is Christ telling us through the Eucharistic Sacrifice? That He loves us in a way beyond our comprehension. That we, you and I, have intrinsic value. That He wants us to spend eternity with us. That He died to for us to make it possible. That even if you or I were the ONLY person ever born, He would have made that sacrifice.
Salvation is ours, if we simply accept it!
This is what Pope Francis is telling the world. Let us focus on the power of God’s love. Let us giddily spread the Good News that joy, eternal joy, is ours through Christ’s incomprehensible sacrifice on behalf of man. We are saved through Christ Jesus, by the Grace of God.
Then, and only then, can we begin to tend to the sin in our lives.
Man erects barriers to Love, called sins. These sins include man’s efforts to stymie God’s plans for creation. They include our disordered passions.
Pope Francis doesn’t tell us to ignore these barriers. He tells us to turn them over to Christ. He says take them into the confessional and lay them at the feet of Christ, who forgives them. It is as if they never occurred in God’s eyes. That’s how powerful God’s forgiveness is.
Pope Francis did not tell us to treat sins as if they are not sins. Rather, he calls on the faithful to reach out to our brothers and sisters who don’t know Christ, or who have fallen away from the Church, to come back. Come back to your Creator, who is the embodiment of Love through His Son, Jesus.
The cure for sin is found in the Church.