There is a coziness found in daily Mass. Slipping into a pew on a weekday morning, I like to think I am a member of an intimate family. It isn’t terribly early, but it feels like it is. The elderly are out in typical force, holding up the Church with their prayers and sacrifices. But there are also some younger people present: a couple moms with babies or children and a smattering of us who fall in the in-between, not very young or very old.
The space isn’t particularly small, but it feels tight knit. I hardly know most of the people, but there seems to be this bond. For some reason, I am almost imagining that we are celebrating Mass in a bomb shelter or tucked away in a secluded place. And even though it is summer, I am reminiscing about trudging through snowy winter evenings and into the warmth of a small chapel. I’m thinking of seminaries, secret and hidden, meeting during Nazi oppression. Or the clandestine Masses held in the Russian gulags.
While all of these are so different, they are inexorably linked.
There they are, all gathered together in the Upper Room, the same old rituals recreated to bring about an abundance of new life. The bread and the wine are offered to them, changed despite the eye’s inability to perceive it.
We are there, too. In a parish mid-week or in a cloistered monastery or in a battlefield, all these places are drawn together by the Eucharist, bridging time and space. Whether there is a serene stillness or the incessant cries of children, we are present at the Wedding Banquet of the Lamb. Surrounded by loved ones or not knowing a single soul in the entire church, we are united as a family, nourished by the very One who gathers us all together.
It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without the Holy Mass. (St. Pio of Pietrelcina)