by Jeffrey Drake
What is the purpose of the mass? I have enjoyed a few in my time here at university. I am not a believer, yet I still enjoy it. I hope to analyze what it is, from my perspective. The mass is many things to many people, so how I feel about it may not be how you feel about it or what its original purpose was.
I observed an evening mass from the loft above. From up here it is a community coming together in celebration. Why do they come here? It could be to reinforce their faith, or come together to pay homage to God.
I am told that a well performed ritual will cause the participants to be absorbed into it. I know of two specific times when this was obviously true, where you have to interact with people around you. The other times participation could be spotty.
No matter what church you go to, you will often hear the clergy give a speech in response to a reading from scripture. At this mass, the theme was reconciliation. This theme was important because the conversation was about relationships. Every interaction we have is a relationship. Notice I said conversation, this was not strictly about being talked to in a speech, questions are asked that cause people to reflect.
The two main interactions are the wishing of peace to your neighbours and receiving communion. Wishing your neighbours peace has a very powerful effect, it is feels like receiving peace in your heart. Receiving communion looks like people lining up at a banquet. But instead of receiving food for energy, you are receiving a food for your soul.
I think it is important to talk about the doctrine of transubstantiation. For those who do not know, it is the belief that the wafer and wine turn into the flesh and blood of Christ. Comparisons have been made to cannibalism, but that is an unfair comparison. In a spiritual context, while the wafer and wine are still a wafer and wine, its substance is believed to be changed to be a part of Christ. So they are not receiving meat, they are receiving the spiritual body.
Regardless of whether you believe in transubstantiation, it is a very beautiful conclusion to a religious ceremony. People leave some how greater than when they came.