Mass Symbolon (The Catholic Faith Explained) – Part 1

Symbolon is a beautiful and systematic presentation of the Catholic faith using an 18-session video curriculum filmed on location in Rome, the Holy Land and Calcutta and in our studios in Denver.

Above is a sample of the 18 session video curriculum – please request to borrow the DVD from Victor if you wish to know more =D

Personally I was really excited to see the Symbolon series in our Seven Graces calendar! Just last week, I was attending mass at Church of St Anthony and Fr. Terence said that we as parishioners of the church are very ridiculous in what we do. For example, we ritually do things in the church without knowing exactly the meaning or the purpose of it. We do things because our mother or our grandmother or our great grandmother told us to. He said, “I see all of you blessing yourselves with Holy Water before you come in and before you leave the church. It is all good with coming in but when you go out there is no need to! The priest has already blessed you at the end of the mass. Why! You think the priest bless you not powerful enough, you must bless yourself again is it!!!”

It was quite a shock to hear this because that is exactly what I have been doing for the past 20 odd years of my life and I have been doing things in vain?

In the Catholic faith, we consider attending mass as an obligation. We spend that one hour or more together in the church every single week and that would roughly translate to about 52+ hours a year. And yet, some of us spend all these hours to go through the motion without understanding the significance and the precious gift that God has lovingly given to us?

It is a bit sad sometimes to hear that Christians or even Catholics actually pick and choose which churches to go to for various reasons. For example, the choir that sings the more ‘hip’ songs, the priest who is more entertaining. Not to say I don’t fall into this trap because it is also a constant struggle for me. In my university days when I was more actively bringing friends to church, I would pray to God Oh, let it be Priest A, not Priest B because my friend will be so bored by Priest B and never come again! Wow. Now to think of it, it is so ridiculous! Are we bringing our friends to church to be entertained? Are we not trusting in God that He will touch people’s lives in such a profound, mystical way that we will never imagine? In the past, I used to be annoyed that the masses at St Anthony is 1.5 hours instead of 1 hour. And now that my schedule is really quite tight during the weekends, I try to move and slot my time round so that I can ‘fulfil my Sunday obligation’ and get on with my own stuff.

I really really struggle a lot with that, so I seek your kind assistance to pray for me and all other Catholics who experience the same struggle. As I reflect upon this, I came to realize the only way to get over this is to fully understand the Mass and to experience God’s love every time I attend the Eucharistic mass. I desire to move on from the ‘I don’t mind going to church’ to the ‘I want to go to church!!!’ I desire to quit thinking that attending Church is ‘doing God a favour’ to ‘I want to give myself the chance to experience something beautiful, a loving gift from God’. Do you have the same desire?

I won’t really go through in depth of what each action / phrase in mass would mean. Because firstly I’m not an expert (yet!) and I challenge you to do your own research or to ask questions. I believe in doing so, you would gain much more 🙂 But here are some short pointers I would like to share. There are 4 main parts in the Eucharistic mass and they are:

  1. Introductory Rites – In this section, we gather together and prepare ourselves to receive God’s word. This includes confessing our sins to God (I confess), seek God’s mercy (Kyrie eleison – “Lord, have mercy” and then we glorify the Lord (Gloria). It is also note worthy that in Gloria, the mass is not only an earthly affair, but the angels of the heavens will join us in worship!
  2. Liturgy of the Word – Now we are ready to receive God’s word! Listen, reflect and try to listen to God’s voice because the Word and Truth will speak to each one of us – regardless in whatever situation we are in or are struggling with. Here we have the 2 readings and the Gospel. After which, we recite the Nicene Creed which comprises of the central teachings of the Church. Here we profess our faith.
  3. Liturgy of the Eucharist – In brief, here we prepare the altar of the Lord and the Priest will pray over the Gifts. This will be covered in more details in Symbolon series part 2!
  4. Concluding Rites – This includes the Blessing, Dismissal (Go in peace to love and serve the Lord) and concluding hymn.

Come join us in Symbolon part 2 to learn more about the heart of our Catholic mass, the Liturgy of the Eucharist! Saturday 12 Sep 2015, 3-5PM at Church of the Holy Spirit. 

Some reflection questions:

  1. What does mass mean to you personally?
  2. What do you think of the aspect of the mass as an obligation?
  3. How do you / can you prepare for mass?

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