Understanding Our Church

A Treasury of Arkansas Writers Discussing the Catholic Faith

Focusing on invisible realities at Mass can instill wonder in faithful

Published: November 7, 2020

By Sister M. Glorea Knaggs, OSB
Holy Angels Convent

Before entering religious life, I attended a Catholic conference for young adults. I remember little about it, save the testimony of a woman who was telling her vocation story in a large auditorium. I don’t remember her name, or most of her story, but I remember one thing: she said that attending daily Mass had changed her life.

She got my attention because the changes she described were the ones I had been desiring in my own life: help with overcoming sin, a sense of direction in terms of vocation and a deeper relationship with God. I left feeling sold on the idea and set out to give it a try.

My prayer for my students and for all of us, is that these images will remain in our minds and hearts as we participate in the Mass — whether virtually or in person — and that we may respond accordingly to these invisible realities and our greatest treasure: Jesus himself, in the most Blessed Sacrament.

I began making an effort to attend daily Mass whenever possible. In just a few weeks, I began to experience some of the fruits the woman had spoken about. I felt a much deeper appreciation and desire for the Mass and began to look for books that would help me grow in my knowledge and understanding of it.

One book I found particularly helpful was Father Stefano Manelli’s “Jesus, Our Eucharistic Love.” In it, he compiled writings and reflections of saints about the Mass and the Eucharist. It was a treasure trove, opening my eyes to the riches of the Eucharist and helping me participate more fully in the Mass.

One quote that I still ponder from time to time was from St. John Chrysostom: “When the priest conducts the Divine Sacrifice, angels station themselves about him and in a choir they chant a hymn of praise in honor of the victim who is sacrificed.”

When I first read this, I found it so beautiful that I would call it to mind during the consecration, imagining their presence in the sanctuary. Just like Jesus himself in the Eucharist. So quiet. So humble — but no less real.

Today, as a religion teacher, I have the privilege and challenge of instilling this wonder at the Mass and the Eucharist in my students. Our Catholic school children are so well-behaved at Mass, quiet and mostly attentive — it’s touching. However, I was recently struck by a sort of glazed-over look on some of their faces as we participated in virtual Mass. Checking the clock during the consecration. Their expressions showed patience, but not wonder.

Thus commenced a series of lessons titled: “The Invisible Realities of the Mass.” We began to discuss, write about and draw what we see at Mass in comparison with what God sees — or in other words, the spiritual realities taking place in the Mass.

One student drew the congregation among angels and clouds to signify our joining in the worship of heaven. Another drew an equal sign with a host on one side and Jesus on the other. My favorite was one that showed angels all around the priest and the altar, with the priest holding up Jesus at the consecration — and they hadn’t even heard my St. John Chrysostom quote.

My prayer for my students and for all of us, is that these images will remain in our minds and hearts as we participate in the Mass — whether virtually or in person — and that we may respond accordingly to these invisible realities and our greatest treasure: Jesus himself, in the most Blessed Sacrament.

Understanding Our Church

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