The Mass is Ended. Go Forth to Love and Serve the Lord.
In the literature about the "Heroic Journey," or the similar "Rites of Passage," the person experiences a call to separate for a time from the ordinary routine of life and go to a special place, either a sacred place or a realm of new possibilities, to be confronted with a challenge, often to carry out a special task, but always a challenge to be transformed. Then the person returns to his or her ordinary life, but now changed and bringing gifts to others in the world.
In the previous three entries of this weblog, I have compared this paradigm of passage and journey to what happens at the Sunday Mass. By doing this, I’m not trying to make the Sunday Mass a momentous personal drama. Momentous things are going on at a Mass, but the transformation and its experience in Mass are often little by little.
A wise man wrote: "A mountain is composed of tiny grains of earth. The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water. Even so, life is but an endless series of little details, actions, speeches, and thoughts. And the consequences whether good or bad of even the least of them are far-reaching."
This reflection that I finish here has been an attempt to remind myself and my readers that something vital and essentially important are occurring in the Mass, even when we are barely aware that it is happening. Grace is working upon us, little by little, and if we stay faithful to the transformation that the Mass, often in a hidden or humble way, is working within us, we will become "God’s new creation": "For we are his masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 3:10)
The last stage of the "Heroic Journey" is the return of the person to his or her daily life. If we are cooperating with the transformation that the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives as a result of our participation in the Sunday Mass, we will begin to see changes in how we treat others and how we live our "ordinary life." Here are some benchmarks of what our lives will look like when we keep entering the Kingdom of God in the Mass to be transformed and gifted in Christ and then returning to the kingdom of this world:
The return to daily life after spending time at Mass has always been a significant part of the Mass: it is the Dismissal. A Blessing is given to all and then the Priest sends forth the people. This dismissal is so significant that the word we often use for the Eucharist, "the Mass," comes from the Latin dismissal at Mass: "Ite missa est" ("Go, you are dismissed"). It is linked with the word "mission," to be sent out with a task to accomplish.
Our task is no less than building the Kingdom of God, which is the rule of God’s love, in our world. We also return to the Mass again and again to renew our purpose in Christ and to remember we are on the heroic journey of the Christian life.