Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
This weekend we get a glimpse of our theme, “Liturgy is Life is Mission,” in two ways. Throughout the year we hope to express in our limited way the reality that everything we are flows from the Mass, and everything we hope to accomplish brings us back to the Mass to give thanks and share in the offering of Jesus of himself to the Father, now as members of that same Body of Jesus.
At the Presentation of the Gifts this weekend, children from our Religious Education Program are bringing back to Mass what they love and what they pray for. Mostly photos of people — family, friends — whom they hope will be remembered in all our intentions at Mass this weekend.
They have completed, as families, a class on how the Mass is a powerful way of offering our intentions to God, and that the value of the Mass is infinite, great enough to include the desire of every heart in creation for all time, even if at just one Mass. Each family brought a photo of someone living or deceased, or drew a picture of someone, or included their prayer intention on a paper flower petal, which were then combined as classes where possible, so that these beautiful arrangements of prayers can be brought up the aisle with the gifts of bread and wine and made a living offering to God.
You may have heard of spiritual bouquets before — when you might give a gift to someone which says how many prayers, acts of kindness, or things you might offer up for their intention.
This is a bouquet of a different type: it is directly to God, not for our enjoyment or recognition, but a huge arrangement of photos and messages, longings that only God will see and each of which he will recognize in the Mass. This is who we are, as well, in the pews each time we gather for Christ’s Mass. We are the signs of thanksgiving and petition, and our lives are the petals of the arrangements which are presented to God, to be consecrated. Spiritual writers in the Church have said in their reflections that perhaps Jesus did this when he was on the cross: in that eternal moment he brought to mind every person who would ever live — every person — and remembered them to God, with their intentions, with their offenses, with their desire for reconciliation. He represented us on that cross, and in that way presented us personally to the Father.
The other way we will see our lives flow out of the Mass today is at the end: we will have a sending forth prayer this weekend in which we will be sent to go out into the world and offer the invitation of Christ to someone to come home. To rediscover the real meaning of the Mass and open their hearts to God again and this community. We can be powerful instruments of the love of God when we offer that welcome, and give people a glimpse of the goodness that waits for them in Christ. I have seen it time and again. Sometimes the hurts are very old and the difficulty great for people to forgive. Sometimes it has been years. And sometimes people are just waiting for somebody to come along and ask them to come home.
The end of the Mass’ Latin text literally, after the final blessing, says, “Go, it is sent.” The word misa, “sent,” is where the word “Mass” comes from. The Mass is literally a sending, then, a time in which we receive everything, more than we can even imagine, but not for ourselves alone. What we receive must be shared. What we have learned, we must teach. What has nourished us must benefit the many who hunger for truth and peace. So it is we who are sent, and it is in this sending that we find our meaning. The mission to which we are sent is the beginning of our fulfillment.
God bless you.