Catholics consider the Mass the source and summit of their lives, but many Catholics complain that they “don't get anything out of Mass.”
This complaint is not as selfish as it sounds. We should expect that participation in something as important as the Mass will make a difference in our lives. It should inspire and challenge us to live more intentionally as active members of the Mystical Body of Jesus on earth.
Many Catholics are fascinated (or confused) by various incidentals of the liturgy, but better participation more often depends upon a deeper appreciation for the Mass as a whole. Regardless of the specific words, gestures, rituals, music and prayers, the Mass is always God's People gathered together to remember, celebrate and give thanks for what God has done for humankind. We come to Mass to be incorporated more fully into God's redeeming activity which finds its most perfect expression in the life, death and resurrection (the Paschal Mystery) of Jesus Christ. As his disciples and members of his Body on earth, we re-dedicate ourselves to live as Jesus does.
These aspects of the liturgy -- the gathering, remembering, celebrating, and commitment to mission -- are inseparable, but they are experienced in the four “movements” of the Mass: the Gathering Rite, the Liturgy of the Word, the Liturgy of the Eucharist and the Dismissal Rite. Experienced as a whole, the liturgy enables us, in the words of St. Augustine, to receive what we are, the Body of Christ.
Our active participation in the Mass always depends in part upon the concrete ways in which, as individuals and as a community, we continue to experience the real presence of God's faithfulness, love and mercy in our daily lives.
• To appreciate the Mass more, take time to identify the ways in which you have experienced God's presence, love, forgiveness, joy, and beauty in your own life and in the lives of the people around you; anticipate how you hope to continue to experience that presence. Then allow yourself to be filled with gratitude and praise; unite your gratitude and praise to that of the people around you and to the eternal sacrifice of Jesus, and offer it to God.
• Guide to the Mass
• Books that will help you appreciate the Mass