One of the greatest gifts of being Catholic is the experience of celebrating Mass, and one of the greatest gifts of the Mass is its universality.
My mother and I are avid travelers, and in our journeys abroad we always try to attend Mass in whatever country we are visiting — regardless of the language barrier.
In fact, as you read this, Mom and I are on our way home from Prague, Czech Republic, and Krakow, Poland, where we’ve celebrated Holy Week in new and wonderful ways.
In previous years, I’ve had the pleasure of attending Mass in Italian, Czech, Slovakian and even Arabic. The beauty and joy of the “family meal” is never lessened by not understanding the words being spoken. Around the world, the prayers are said in the same spirit, to the same God, by people who cherish the same faith that I do.
What could be more edifying than that?
For all of the division among peoples on our planet, the knowledge that Mass, and specifically the Eucharist, is the same at its core, no matter where it takes place, is one of the most comforting truths there can be.
What a blessing to exchange the sign of peace with someone from a foreign land, to extend a hand to a stranger who understands your smile if not your words!
For good reason, much is being made of the changes to the Roman Missal that will take effect in November. We’ll be using new, unfamiliar phrasing in our Mass, and it’s only logical that these new practices will create some level of discomfort and distraction.
But no matter what we’re saying, the Mass is more about doing. It’s about using your whole heart, mind and being to pray and to give thanks. It’s about participating in a meal with your extended Christian family and praising God for His great gifts to us.
It’s about communicating with the Father through Christ and the Holy Spirit and remembering that, in any language, actions speak louder than words.