As we begin to look, over the next series of ti morceaux here, at the second part of the Mass known as the Liturgy of the Eucharist, I think I’ll set one rule. (It’s my column, after all!) And that rule is: “Let’s never miss the forest for the trees!”
You see, one can get bogged down in detail or overwhelmed by the many different parts, and so fail to see the ultimate purpose of our Eucharistic worship. Let’s resolve not to do this, that’s all.
And what is this “ultimate purpose” of our Mass? Some think it’s to provide us the occasion to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus in Holy Communion. Well, that’s not really true. That’s an important thing, but not the top priority. We should prize very highly the opportunity to go to Communion, and do so reverently and worthily, but remember, “we” are not the main reason for the Mass. If one cannot receive communion (for example, because of some mortal sin committed, or having not fasted, or having already received communion twice that day, etc.), that hardly makes the Mass worthless.
No, we always have to remember that the purpose of our liturgy is to “show forth the mystery of Christ and the real nature of His Church.” This is a quote from the Church’s own Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (par. 2). It basically means that in our worship we reveal Christ accurately to the world. Thus we emphasize Christ’s “real presence” in the Eucharist and carefully accomplish special ritual actions – even as we also preach the truths of Sacred Scripture, teach God’s will as known in Sacred Tradition, and behave through it all as true disciples of Jesus!