MASS – ADDRESSING GOD THE FATHER – September 9, 2012 – Rev. Emmett H. Carroll, S.J.
MASS — ADDRESSING GOD THE FATHER
September 9, 2012
Rev. Emmett H. Carroll, S.J.
At the recent convention of the Democratic Party, President Barack Obama spoke his first line to the delegates present in the Convention hall. “I accept,” he said, “your nomination for president of the United States.” Governor Mitt Romney spoke in the same terms. “Mr. Chairman and Delegates,” Romney said, “I accept your nomination for president of the United States.” President Obama then addressed a line to his wife, and in a second line he told his daughters that soon they must attend classes.
Quite quickly, however, these two addressed their true and wider audiences. President Obama soon said: “Know this, America….” And Governor Romney spoke to his audience, saying, “We Americans….”
In its liturgy, the Church addresses every prayer to God, the Father through Jesus Christ Our Lord.” Just as at the political conventions the speakers addressed immediately those present in the hall, and then all Americans who vote, so at Mass we speak first to those present in Church—“Brethren, let us acknowledge our sins and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries”—but in the Eucharistic prayer we speak to God the Father.
“You are indeed Holy, O Lord, //and all you have created// rightly gives you praise,// for through Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,//by the power and working of the Holy Spirit,//you give life to all things….”
Moses spoke immediately to God: “So Moses returned to the Lord and said, ‘Alas, this people has sinned a great sin; they have made for themselves a god of gold. But now if you will only forgive their sin….”’ (Exodus 32:31-32). And we hear the apostles asking Jesus to teach them to pray, and Jesus replies, “Pray, then, in this way: Our Father in heaven…” (Matthew 6:9). We also witness Jesus addressing God the Father on the Mount of Olives: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done” (Matthew 22:41).
At the Mass we immediately speak to our Creator, to God as Father. We Christians have learned from scripture, and so also Christ has instructed us. Moses did not wish to report the Israelites’ sinful adoration of the golden calf to God, for Moses feared God’s anger. How many of us have feared speaking to someone? We might say, “You tell him.” “No, you tell him.” At Mass, we, nonetheless, speak to God immediately, without intermediary. Hence, we speak in reverential tone, and flee from hint of boldness: “Therefore, O Lord, we humbly implore you: //…graciously make holy these gifts….” Our tone is hushed and reverential.
In his gospel, Mark tells us about a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years.
She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” …. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling…, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” (Mark 5:25-34)
This woman manifested daring and desperation and hope in simply touching a part of Jesus’ clothing. This event occurred as Jesus walked in His humanity. In the Mass, we address our Creator, not, faceless, melding in to a crowd, but as we share with the Church in our praying to Our Father.
Although our Eucharistic prayers speak to God the Father, yet the Father acts on our behalf as Jesus acted on behalf of the fearful woman who touched his clothes.
Therefore, O Lord, we humbly implore you/ by the same Spirit graciously make holy/these gifts that we have brought to you for consecration,/that they may become the Body and Blood/of your Son Jesus Christ.
And the Father does this; the Father sanctifies the bread and wine. We ask that our gifts might be transformed into His Son, and the Father responds positively to this entreaty, changing the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus.
Our Eucharistic prayer to God the Father speaks of sacrifice. “Look,” we pray to the Father, “upon the oblation of your Church, and recognize the sacrificial victim….” The same Christ who offered himself once…on the cross… is offered in a non-bloody manner at Mass (Council of Trent). Christ’s offering is one and unrepeatable, but it is made present in every Eucharist. Praying, we align ourselves, becoming one with Christ.
What happens during this prayer is stunning. Belief strains. The wonder and the mystery thrill us. Each time we offer the Eucharistic Prayer, we intend to participate more fully in it, to perceive what happens during the prayer and to be a part of it. It is the biggest prayer the Church has. The Church exists to pray it, and the Church comes to be by praying it.
As we conclude the Eucharistic prayer, the priest lifts the bread and wine in a gesture of offering. “Through him—Christ—and with him and in him, //O God Almighty Father…all glory and honor is yours.” This is our communion in the sacrifice of Christ. This is perfect praise. During the Eucharistic prayer, we remember what we have asked of God, and what God has done for us, and we finish by praising Our God. Amen.