Everyone has a favorite scene in their beloved movies or a catchy line in their favorite song. But what about your weekend faith pilgrimage – doesn’t that deserve a top 5 list of its own? I think so as well, so let’s see if the Gloria or the creed or the homily break into the top 5 best moments in Mass. And what comes out as the pinnacle? Is it the donuts and social time afterward? My boy would vote for that.
So, here we go – my personal favorites for the five best moments in the Mass.
Number 5 – The Sign of Peace.
I’ll call myself out on this one. I like seeing my friends and acquaintances at Mass. It’s a double bonus if they are sitting close enough to shake hands with during the sign of peace. It is also a nice chance to show my kids some extra affection.
Number 4 – Singing His Praise
The music at a Mass can be a huge factor in drawing us closer to God. In fact, a child I know says there is a terrific draw to powerful, exciting music at Mass and it helps her get “hyped on Jesus.” That is a strong testimonial. I would agree that music is a key part to praising God at Mass and one of the best ways I experience His grace flowing out to me. I love it when a favorite song comes up because it gets me energized. For instance, I’d sing “City of God” at every Mass if possible.
Number 3 – Centurion’s faith
This is the moment in Mass where the priest says “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”
And we respond: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
First, I love the way this moment recalls the faith of the Centurion from Matthew. This Gospel reading we heard weeks ago is a favorite of mine.
“As [Jesus] entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, begging him and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion answered him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” […] Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment. (Mt 8:5-13)”
When we repeat the profession of faith that the centurion spoke, with full faith that his servant would be healed, we tell Jesus that we believe He can overcome our faults and sins and make us worthy to receive Him – worthy in body and in spirit. This is a key difference between a saint and a sinner. A sinner gives up on forgiveness and on Jesus out of despair. A saint believes Jesus is more powerful than any sin – that His mercy never runs out. A saint keeps asking to be made worthy of receiving Jesus, and His overflowing mercy does the rest.
Number 2 – The homily
If you come to church exhausted after being up all night with a sick kid, or are dealing with wiggly, giggly and hard-to-wrangle kids in church, this is likely the best part of Mass for you. When father gets up to speak and tell a story about Jesus or about how Jesus changed somebody’s life, many people are their most attentive. I guess that’s natural since it’s original every time.
A good homily can come from anywhere or anytime and often are not things I have first-hand knowledge of, so they are a learning opportunity for me. I think some of the most memorable moments of the Masses I’ve been to over the years center around a great homily. Sometimes they are brave such as when a priest talks about something you know he’s going to take grief over later, like divorce or abortion. Sometimes they are incredibly insightful or revealing about how God acted in their lives. Sometimes, they just illuminate the Gospel in such a powerful way that you can’t believe you didn’t see it before. There is only one thing that beats a great homily.
Number 1 – Receiving Communion
The Eucharist is always going to be at the top of my list. No surprise here, as consuming the Body of Christ is the best way we can get closer to Jesus. I enjoy immensely the clean slate, with forgiveness of venial sins, along with the grace to be a better person. Most importantly, I enjoy welcoming Him into my life with fervor and really opening up to let go of the things that are too big for me – the trials only Jesus can handle. I really love praying for my special intentions right after receiving because I know Christ is with me and is ready to extend His mercy. Receiving Jesus is the best part of Mass and being Catholic.
In some parts of the world, in some eras, one would be extremely blessed just to be able to go to Mass without suffering painful trials. Fortunately, we are blessed to live in the United States where religious freedom is protected by the 1st Amendment – at least somewhat.
What would you miss the most if you couldn’t go to Mass? I’d love to hear what your favorite parts of Mass are in a comment below.