| By Pete Burak

Catechism Part II

The Celebration of the Christian Mystery

There have been times when I’ve been tempted to think that Mass is boring. Occasionally, the salvific action of God cloaked in the efficacious mystery of the sacrament was lost on the easily distracted and often fickle Pete Burak. Lately, participation in the Holy Sacrifice is a workout as I’m constantly wrestling the squirrel that is our 3-year-old son. Regardless of my mental state, however, as the priest leads the congregation through the liturgy, unique grace is unleashed, and a miracle happens on the altar: bread and wine become the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. Honestly, that should be enough to astound our minds and humble our desires, but the Lord then invites us to consume him. How could I ever have thought Mass was boring!

Part II of the Catechism of the Catholic Church focuses on the sacraments and their unique role in the rescue mission of God. Sacraments are instituted by Christ as outward signs of an inward movement of grace, or a mysterious, yet essential aspect of the Catholic Church’s life. As section 1071 says:

“As the work of Christ, liturgy is also an action of his Church. It makes the Church present and manifests her as the visible sign of the communion in Christ between God and men. It engages the faithful in the new life of the community and involves the ‘conscious, active, and fruitful participation’ of everyone.”

Ultimately, the sacraments allow the faithful to enter the full life of Christ, remember what he has done, and allow his power, plan and provision to enable us to live as his body, and therefore be one with him. Most uniquely, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the participation in and remembrance of Jesus’ paschal mystery, “whereby ‘dying he destroyed our death, rising he restored our life.’ For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth ‘the wondrous sacrament of the whole Church.’” (CCC 1067) When Mass is celebrated, heaven meets earth, we enter the throne room singing Holy Holy Holy, the word dwells among us and divine food is prepared and distributed so the people of God can go and make disciples of all nations.

If this is hard to believe, ask God to reveal himself to you in the Eucharist. I once heard our priest challenge his parishioners to pray a simple prayer as they approached the altar for Communion: “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.” I offer you the same challenge, since I know the Lord will answer that prayer, and when he does, you will never be bored at Mass again – though potentially exhausted if you sit in my pew.

Pete Burak is the director of i.d.9:16, the young adult outreach of Renewal Ministries. He has a master’s degree in theology and is a frequent speaker on evangelization and discipleship.