Mass of Christ: The Real Meaning of Christmas
Do you really want to live Christmas to the maximum potential of your being? If you have responded in the positive the following is the most efficacious path: living out to the fullest degree possible the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
How interesting—the word Christmas is a compound word: Christ… Mass, that is to say “The Mass of Christ!” Therefore to live out to the fullest extent possible Christmas, we should strive with every fiber of our being to believe in the Mass, love the Mass, participate fully, consciously and actively in the Mass. If done, the Infant Baby Jesus will be born in the depths of our souls!
Another interesting word interpretation is that of Bethlehem. The true interpretation of the word Bethlehem is “House of Bread”. Jesus who would later in His Public ministry call Himself the “Bread of Life” (Bread of life Discourse: Jn. 6: 22-71) was born in Bethlehem—the “House of Bread.” How appropriate and true the symbolism.
This being the case then how can we improve, upgrade, perfect our life related the Holy Mass, our union with Christ in Holy Communion, our Eucharistic devotion? That is the purpose of this essay!
Concrete Ways to Live out Mass and Christmas
- THANKSGIVING. The word “Eucharist” actually means thanksgiving. Let us constantly thank God for our faith and belief in His Real Presence in the most Holy Eucharist. Still more let us grow in our faith and try to bring those who have wandered from the fold back to their faith and love for the Eucharist. “The harvest is rich but the laborers are few.” May you be transformed into a zealous laborer in the Lord’s vineyard.
- CLEAN THE STABLE. There is an intimate connection and relationship between the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Confession. By receiving Confession properly we cleanse our souls and consequently we receive Jesus with greater purity of heart and the graces are more abundant. Jesus reminds us in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the pure of heart, they will see God.” (Mt. 5:8) If you like, the clearer and more transparent the window pane the more abundant will be the inpouring of the light of the sun. So Jesus who is the “Sun of God” in Holy Communion will break forth with greater abundance in a pure and transparent soul.
- DAILY MASS AND HOLY COMMUNION. If possible according to your state of life and time schedule see if it is at all possible to come to Daily Mass and receive Holy Communion as often as possible. Could one of the petitions on the Our Father be challenging us to this practice: “Give us this day our daily bread…” Could this daily bread be the Bread of the Eucharist in Holy Communion? I believe it does!
- EARLY BIRD! Make it a habit to be an early bird rather than the night owl. Coming late distracts the priest, the others, and you yourself will be more distracted in Mass. Athletes do not arrive late for the game; actors do not show up in the play at the time for intermission; even dead bodies in funerals show up early! Should we not make it an effort to come early so as to prepare ourselves for the greatest event in the world: the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!!!
- INTENTIONS. In parishes the priest usually has an intention that was requested months before. This does not exclude the fact that you can offer your own intentions. On the contrary, you can offer as many personal intentions as you want—a million if your heart so desires! Three suggestions for intentions: 1) for the souls in Purgatory, 2) For the conversion of sinners, 3) For your own personal conversion. Every Holy Communion is a new HEART TRANSPLANT; your receive the most Sacred Heart of Jesus with its absolute purity and holiness as well as all of the most sublime virtues that were always present in His Heart.
- AVOID DISTRACTIONS! As the Dogmatic Constitution on the Liturgy from the Second Vatican Council strongly recommends (Sacrosanctum Concilium) we are called to participate in Holy Mass fully, actively, and consciously. Indeed this is an enormous challenge because we live in a world full of distractions and even in the Mass there are present many distractions. Beg the assistance of your Guardian angel to come to your rescue.
- LISTEN ATTENTIVELY. The Mass can be divided into two essential parts: The Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. There are two tables to nourish our souls from: the Word of God and the Bread of Life. An attentive listening to the Word of God can dispose our minds and hearts to receive the Bread of Life more efficaciously. Therefore: ears, mind, and hearts open to receive the Word of God. May Our Lady be our example. St Luke presents Our Lady pondering the Word of God in her heart!
- RECEIVE HOLY COMMUNION WITH THE HEART OF MARY. One of the most efficacious means to receive Jesus with the best of dispositions is to beg Our Lady to give us her Immaculate Heart so as to receive Jesus in Holy Communion with burning charity. Imagine Our Lady when she would have received Holy Communion from the hand of the Apostle Saint John the Evangelist. What an example for us!
- REVERENCE BEFORE THE SACRED AND REAL PRESENCE. Before receiving Holy Communion we should always make some act of reverence; this might be a genuflection or a bowing of the head. Remember who you are about to receive: the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, the Son of the living God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Master and Lord of the whole universe, the Savior and Redeemer. In the presence of a King or Queen our reverence would be absolute; in a parallel sense our reverence before the King of the Universe should be sublime and exalted!
- AMEN. When the Body of Christ is given to us we should pronounce audibly the word AMEN. This is an Aramaic word (the language of Jesus) which is an act of faith and means: I BELIEVE! Let us pray that our faith will grow like the tree planted by the running streams that brings forth fruit in abundance day and night. (Psalm 1)
- THANKSGIVING. There is no other moment or time in our life in which we should express more abundant gratitude than after receiving Jesus into our hearts in Holy Eucharist. We should unite with the choirs of angels, the saints and especially the most pure and Immaculate Heart of Mary to pour forth in abundance our gratitude for such a sublime gift, the gift of gifts which is the most Holy Eucharist. “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His mercy endures forever.” God indeed loves a joyful and a grateful heart!
- IMITATE OUR LADY IN THE VISITATION. After Our Lady conceived Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit by giving her consent in the Annunciation, she immediately went in haste to bring Jesus to others, her aged cousin Elizabeth who was with child. Our reception of Holy Communion should transform us into fiery apostles of the love of Jesus. Reception of the Body of Christ in Mass should motivate us and launch us into the midst of the world with the desire to bring the Person and love of Jesus to the whole world. Remember the last words of Jesus:“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”((Mt 28:19-20) The message could not be more clear but indeed it is challenging! If we have received Jesus into our hearts we must be missionaries to the whole world and bring Jesus to all. May the Eucharist enlighten us and inflame us! Remember the last words of St. Ignatius to St. Francis Xavier when he sent him off to the Indies: “Go set all on fire!” May you be a fire-blazer of love for Jesus in the Eucharist!
- BRING OTHERS BACK TO MASS AND HOLY COMMUNION. Statistics are not always exact; however close to 75% of Catholics no longer attend Holy Mass on Sundays. It is up to you and to me, as a result of our fervent Holy Communions to bring these lost and wandering sheep back to the fold. We are called to be sheep of the Good Shepherd; then we are called to be the shepherds to the many lost and wandering sheep. Bring these lost, confused, abandoned sheep, in danger of being devoured by the prowling and ravenous wolves, back to the arms of the Good Shepherd who wants to feed them with His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in Holy Communion.(Psalm 23/ Jn. 10—the Good Shepherd)
- FAN THE FLAME BEFORE IT FLICKES AND EXTINGUISHES! Pope Benedict in his Apostolic Exhortation on the Mass and Eucharist Sacramentum Caritatis (Feb. 22, 2007) strongly encourages us to recover the practice of frequent spiritual communions. These can be as many as you like. The purpose is to keep the flame of love for the Eucharistic Lord burning intensely and constantly in our hearts. This practice was strongly recommended by the great Doctor of the Church, Saint Alphonsus Maria Liguori. As a bonfire must be constantly fed by brush, sticks and wood, so the interior furnace of our souls must be constantly nourished by the Eucharist and spiritual communions. The Lord stands outside the door of your heart knocking, open up the door and invite Him in now and as often as possible. When you die He will welcome you through the gates of Heaven.(Rev. 3: 20)