The Weight of a Mass
As many of you heard in my announcement this past Sunday, beginning August 5th we will now be accepting Mass intentions for all Sunday Masses. I understand this has not been the practice here at Notre Dame for some time, but offering Sunday Masses for a particular intention is a beautiful tradition going back to the earliest days of the Church. As the Mass is our most powerful prayer–the offering of Christ on the cross–even the earliest saints prayed at Mass for the intentions of those they held most dear. The dying wish of St. Monica to her son St. Augustine was, “One thing only I ask you, that you remember me at the altar of the Lord wherever you may be.” At Mass we are gathered with all those living and gone and our prayers are a great help to those still on their journey to heaven.
We can often forget the value of every Mass though. How many don’t come to Mass because it’s “boring,” not realizing what they are missing out on? How often do even those who attend Mass week after week, or possibly day after day, lose an appreciation for the Mass because it has become routine? And when someone passes away we can often just think, “Let me buy a Mass for them.” But can we really buy a Mass? I recently came across a beautiful children’s story called The Weight of a Mass. As the story goes, a poor widow begs a baker for a crust of bread and promises to attend Mass and pray for him in exchange. Laughing at her, the baker writes “one Mass” on a scrap of paper and puts it on one side of his scales. On the other he begins to pile up cookies, then loaves of bread, and eventually a giant wedding cake, but nothing even begins to tip the scales – the Mass weighs more than all the baker’s goods. The baker’s eyes are opened and he comes to believe. Perhaps in a very simple way, it teaches that each Mass has an infinite value beyond anything on this Earth.
Whatever the cost then, a single Mass is worth more than all the money in the world. If we think of how much we might spend for a cup of coffee each day, or for our cable bill each month – what a bargain! For a small gift to our priests and our parish, we are able to give an infinitely great gift to someone we love. Let us pray this week that we may appreciate the weight of each Mass.