Jesus Brings Restoration Through the Sacred Liturgy
Repose allows us to contemplate the little things we do in their relationship to the vast things which alone can give them worth and meaning. It reminds us that all actions get their worth from God: “worship” means admitting “worth”. To worship is to restore to our workaday life its true worth by setting it in its real relationship to God, who is its end and ours.Such worship is a form of repose – of an intensely active and creative contemplation of Divine things from which we arise refreshed. The promise of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew is still waiting for those who are willing to hear it: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest.” (Mt 11:28)1
One of the greatest and most unappreciated opportunities available to us as Catholics is daily Mass. Certainly, the Mass in general is unappreciated. Even the commandment to observe the Sabbath, which is truly a gift to us, is considered a burden by many. However, when we come to understand the meaning of worship, and begin to take advantage of the opportunity we have each day to participate in the highest form of worship which is the Holy Mass, we find that it is true what Jesus said: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Mt 11:29-30)
Though I do not have children of my own, I enjoy spending time with my friends and their families. It is amazing how much one learns about oneself by watching the behavior of little ones. One thing that always strikes me is how a generally good-natured child can turn into a beast the moment mom mentions “naptime”. The irony! What I wouldn’t give for someone to tell me in the middle of the day that I had to take a nap! And yet, for many children, this is the great calamity of each day, (and subsequently for many mothers as well.) As mature as we believe ourselves to be, we actually change very little over the course of life. Perhaps we become more civilized, but our attachments are not so different. God commands us to put down our occupations for a time and to be renewed, and often this seems to us a very unreasonable request. But what a gift! Any parent knows what a difference a nap can make in a child’s behavior. The same is true for adults! The time of rest offered to us by God has the potential to change our attitude toward everything we do. As Archbishop Sheen reflects, worship is a form of rest and,
“To worship is to restore to our workaday life its true worth by setting it in its real relationship to God, who is its end and ours.”
Our vision is often limited. We can only see things from the vantage point of our little spot on earth. This can cause us to be very self-centered, and such an attitude frequently results in behavior that seeks our own interests without taking into account the needs of others or the bigger picture. The (link) teaches us that through the celebration of the , we participate in the “heavenly liturgy”. We are invited to see things from the vantage point of heaven in union with the saints, angels, and God Himself. What appears to be bread and wine is in fact the Body and Blood of Christ. What seems to be a great trial in our life is flipped on its head and understood as a great blessing. A person who is irritating and burdensome is recognized as a broken individual aching for the experience of being loved. The monotonous routine of everyday is seen as the baby steps to eternal glory.1136-1137
Yet, God is so generous that he does not offer this privilege just once every week. Even such a gift was not sufficient in the mind of God. Every day we have the opportunity to step away from the tasks that consume us to remember that we are made for more. We are nourished and strengthened by Christ’s own flesh to continue the work entrusted to us by God for our salvation and the salvation of the world. And though we wait for Christ to return in glory, this also serves to remind us that God’s kingdom has already come. How privileged we are to live at this particular time in history! We are living the fulfillment of the New Covenant. The people of Israel lived the Old Covenant, a time of waiting for the Messiah. They were reminded of this as they toiled six days in anticipation of the seventh. We, in turn, live in the midst of God who has come and “pitched his tent among us.” (Jn 1:1) He now waits with us. He is available to us daily, that we might come to Him to rest, to renew our perspective, to see our everyday realities with a supernatural outlook, and to hand our burdens off to Him.
Due to the requirements of everyday life, it can be difficult to find time to participate in the Mass throughout the week. Though it may require sacrifice, this time of worship and renewal promises to bear great fruit in our lives. We are very blessed in our parish to have daily Mass at 6:00 every evening. I have found that when I come before the altar at this point in the day, God restores my peace. I may enter with a sense of frustration or worry, but by the final blessing, I find that my thoughts are changed. I am no longer carrying the weight of my burdens alone. He allows my soul to rest during that time of worship and invites me to trust in Him. He shares with me a heavenly perspective and the promise of eternal rest with Him in glory. From that vantage point, the burdens seem much lighter, for “the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” (Romans 8:18)
1 Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Way to Happiness, (Staten Island: St. Paul’s/Alba House, 1998) 43-44.