I find that I get out of mass what I put into it, on a physical level (while the spiritual benefits are always there.) When I first began to attend a Catholic church I made myself an outsider. I sat in the back with my protestant bible, demanding that every action have a corresponding biblical text. (To my shock it did.) Then, even though I was beginning to experience the reality that the mass was indeed the proper way of doing things; I made myself feel alienated by the people present.
No one ever did anything to make me feel that way. They shook my hand, smiled at me, waved as they saw me out town. In fact, after I began to realize it wasn't they who made me unwelcome but myself, I began to see how beautiful this parish was. Mass began to come alive for me in a special way.
Then I read the book "The Lamb's Supper" by Scott Hahn. After reading that book I began to really immerse myself in the mass. I began to learn what the words meant and why they were said. I started watching for those moments when the scripture were coming alive before me, where Heaven was becoming present, where Christ was becoming present. I began to truly 'believe' that the mass was more than what it looked like on the surface. I 'knew', but now I was beginning to believe.
After joining the church this Easter, the mass again took on a new dimension. Where as before I felt like I was calling out with the woman in the book of Mathew who called "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." I was there at the mass, but not at the table so to speak. Yes I know the people there also receive blessings for just being in the room even if they cannot participate, but there was still that longing to sit down for more than just crumbs! To partake of the meal!
Now that I am able to receive I am blown away by the grace. I often find myself drawn to tears and overwhelmed with the love of God for me and for every single person in the room! I sit in the front row so that I can be closer to the Eucharist, and I often stare in wide awe as my priest delivers Christ to his flock. My heart is completely ripped each time as I know that God is there, in my presence, the presence of a man who doesn't deserve to even be there; but there he is forgiving sins right before my very eyes! There he is entering each person and helping them to live by the Law of Grace, by living the law of grace through them and for them.
So there I sit with my hands folded in prayer, watching as the priest cleanses the vessels and my mind begins to dwell on how can I bring others to this table? How can I take this Eucharist, this Jesus that is dwelling inside of me now, out into the world and share it with others? How can I live my life in a way that makes others say "I want what he has, I want whatever makes him who he is." As Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman said:
help us to spread your presence everywhere we go.
Flood our souls with your Spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess our whole being so utterly,
that our lives may be only
a radiance of yours.
Shine through us, and be so in us,
that every person we come in contact with
may feel your presence.
Let them lookup and see no longer us,
but only you!
Stay with us,
and then we shall begin to shine as you shine;
so to shine as a light to others.
The light, O Jesus, will be all from you;
none of it will be ours;
it will be you, shining on others through us.
Let us thus praise you in the way you love best
by shining on those around us.
Anyway, that is my experience with mass at the moment with my spiritual walk. It is such a powerful thing that I am sure that I haven't conveyed it well, words can only express so much!
His servant, and yours;