If you saw the funeral Mass at the Vatican, it was quite an impressive liturgy (and that reportedly was a “toned down” ceremony, compared to what it could’ve been!). By the way, a quick comment on Pope Benedict XVI: During this past Advent, I attended a series of meetings at my parish where we studied Pope Benedict’s little book titled, “Jesus of Nazareth: the Infancy Narratives.” It was a wonderful way to prepare for Christmas, and it was a good reminder, if we didn’t already know, that the pope was a brilliant scholar and theologian. You could not read the book quickly, like a novel. After every page, you had to stop and ponder the deep spiritual concepts the pope explored. I realize that a lot of people, especially in the secular media, have gone out of their way to criticize Pope Benedict, but he really was one of the all-time good guys of our faith.
Because of business trips, I’ve been able to go to Mass in Toronto, Chicago, Kansas City, Orlando, and Las Vegas. And closer to home, I’ve been to Mass in Boston, Providence, New York City, and of course many communities in my home state of Connecticut.
No matter how different the churches are — and trust me, majestic St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna is quite different compared to tiny St. Romuald’s Chapel in Matunuck, Rhode Island — the Mass is the Mass. And that fact is such a wonderful blessing. No matter the local customs or language, the Mass follows the same basic format.
So, no matter where you attend Mass, in any part of the world, it is essentially the same. We have this amazing geographical connection spanning the entire globe. But not only do we have a vast geographical connection to the Mass, we also have a remarkable time connection. You see, the Mass we celebrate today is surprisingly similar to the liturgy that was celebrated by Catholics 2,000 years ago.
Many aspects of the Mass have evolved over the centuries, of course. For example, I’m pretty sure the church that St. Paul founded in Ephesus did not have Bose speakers hanging from the wall, nor could parishioners watch the Mass at home over the Internet (mostly because the wifi service was lousy back then). But the two primary parts of the Mass, the liturgy of the Word and the liturgy of the Eucharist, were present from the very start of Christianity.
We should thank God for the Mass. It is the sacred liturgy that transcends time and space. It allows us to create spiritual bonds with believers in other parts of the world and throughout time. The Mass is a great gift and we should embrace it as often as possible.