Today was my fifth day in my new role (more about this on a later post, probably), and also the longest day I’ve had in the office in a long time. I was so busy today and I had to put off some of the other things I wanted to do just to finish some work but there was one thing I was silently praying that I would get to do: attend Mass. Thankfully, my 5pm freed up, so I was able to head to the nearby chapel and attend Mass with my parents. Interestingly, the Gospel and the homily said something about God’s presence and how He never lets go of our hand, and that’s why I decided to get this post out of the drafts and post it now.
The first time I said I would go to Mass everyday was back in 2008, after I had submitted my requirements for the Australian visa application because I wanted to attend WYD 2008 in Sydney. I told myself that I would go to Mass everyday to pray for my visa and WYD. I did it, and people asked me about it and I told them why I was doing it and they didn’t say anything else. It was a struggle, really, because back then, there was only one mass schedule in Eastwood. It was lunch time, and our team usually ate lunch together, so I had to miss out on that. And then some times, I just got lazy, but I dragged my feet to church, because I really, really, really wanted to go to Sydney.
Well, I didn’t get to go to Sydney that year, and so I stopped going to Mass everyday, too. I went back to the usual Sundays, as well as the first Wednesdays and Fridays of the month, and all the other holy days of obligation when I needed to attend.
Some time around April in 2013, I decided to take a break and attend Mass because I felt unsettled. It was one of those many days back then when I didn’t know what to do with myself, and my thoughts just kept running and running and running and running, so I went to church in hopes of my thoughts stopping and my heart to go still.
And it did.
Ever since then, I started attending mass everyday.
It was an hour (or perhaps about 45 minutes, because it’s a weekday mass) of peace. Inside the church, as the Holy Mass happens, my heart quiets down and somehow all the noise of the world is left by the church’s doors. Oh, sometimes thoughts make their way in, and I get distracted. Sometimes I even get so sleepy that I actually nod off during some parts. Of course that happens. There were days when I didn’t really pick up anything from the readings or the homily, and some days it made me feel a little distant when that happens. But there were days when something just hits — and when it does, it usually hits hard — and sometimes I find myself crying because it was just exactly what I needed to hear. It was exactly what my heart needed.
The more I go to Mass, the more I craved for the peace being there gives me. And I suppose it’s just logical, since the Holy Mass is the highest form of worship, and if needed any help to get closer to God, then going to mass is the first answer. I mean, I get to receive Jesus in communion here, and I get to celebrate His life, death, and resurrection with fellow believers. I don’t know how I can’t not find God in this celebration.
I remember one time, on the last mass after the vigil at the World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid, where I stood in wonder as we attended a Mass in a different language with millions of Catholic youths all over the world. I could not understand half of the mass because it was in Spanish, but I didn’t feel confused because it was exactly the mass I grew up with. Later in that trip, my friends and I attended mass at Basilique du Sacré-Cœur in Paris, and I didn’t understand a word of it because it was in French, but I didn’t mind. And just recently, when my SFC friends and I were in Cagayan de Oro, we attended a Mass that was in Bisaya, and again, I hardly understood anything but it didn’t feel any different. It was still the same Mass that I know.
That’s the beauty of this celebration, and the Roman Catholic Church. Anywhere you go, you can attend Mass and it’s exactly the same. Sure, the homily may be different because of the priest, and there may be small differences like how long you hold hands after the Lord’s Prayer (if people actually hold hands) or how the communion is given…but at its very core, it is still the same Mass anywhere. The same readings, the same responses (albeit different languages), the same opening and closing. And there’s something just nice and comforting about that. :)
The Holy Mass reminds me that no matter how chaotic my life is, no matter how confused or broken or sad or excited or happy I may be, God is still the same. It reminds me of God’s faithfulness. It’s a reminder of God’s permanence, of how He is really the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. It’s Jesus reminding me where I could find Him, where I could find peace amidst all the troubles of life. How He is always waiting to celebrate with me in church, and how He always offers himself through the consecration and the communion, in the changing of the bread and wine into His body and blood, and even in the people who attend the Mass with me as we exchange greetings and wish each other peace. In every response, in every action, in every reading, I am reminded that God is holding my hand and He will never let go, and that I never go through this life alone. :)
* Photo credit: Lifeteen.com