Easter: Stewardship and Prayer
At Mass, we pray, draw strength
The Mass itself is a prayer where the church praises and thanks
Last in a Lenten series on Stewardship -- A Life of
By Bishop Robert Banks
We celebrate this week the holiest days in our Church: Holy
Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. While we observe these days in a
special way every spring, we also celebrate them every time we
gather as a church for Mass, particularly Sunday Mass.
The Mass itself is a prayer. It is where the Church praises God
and draws strength for our mission. We are at Mass as God's people
to praise and thank God for calling us to be his people. We are
there to recall and celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus
by which we are saved and offered the new life of grace.
The deeper our faith in Jesus, the deeper will be our
appreciation and our love of the Mass. And the deeper our love of
the Mass, the deeper will be our faith in Jesus.
We are nourished, refreshed and strengthened when we celebrate
the Mass with faith:
in the scriptures we hear;
in the Body and Blood of Jesus;
that God hears our prayers as we pray with and through Jesus;
and that Jesus is present with us as we gather in his name as his people.
Indeed, the whole Church participates in the celebration
of every Mass, since the saints and the angels are all part of what
we are doing with Jesus, who is the priest at every
The assembly, gathered around the altar, is the parish at its
best -- at prayer with Jesus, at prayer with and for one another,
gathered to be nourished by the Scriptures and the Eucharist.
It is in and with this parish, gathered as one by the power of
the Spirit, that Jesus joins our thanks and sacrifices to his
thanks and sacrifices in offering perfect worship to the
But the Mass is not just one continuous prayer or action. It is
an act of worship that consists of a number of different parts that
require a variety of activities by us. To get the most out of the
Mass, we must actively participate by singing, by paying attention,
by praying silently and aloud at the proper places.
The heart of the Mass is the Eucharistic Prayer. It is here that
we, through the priest, ask that the bread and wine be transformed
by the Spirit into the Body and Blood of Christ. Later, we ask the
Holy Spirit to work within us to transform us into the Body of
Christ to bring about a unity characterized by love, joy, peace,
kindness and all the other signs of the Spirit's work within
At every Mass, the priest repeats Jesus' words at the Last
Supper, linking us directly to the mystery of Christ's death and
resurrection and making what appears to be bread and wine into the
Body and Blood of Jesus.
The priest also recalls explicitly Jesus' death and resurrection
to remind us that it wasn't just a past event, but a mystery still
at work within the Church and within us.
The Eucharistic Prayer also expresses a three-in-one offering:
Jesus' once-for-all offering of himself to the Father for us; our
offering of the bread and wine which have become Christ; and our
offering of ourselves -- our lives, hopes worries and energies --
in union with Christ to the Father with Jesus.
As the Fathers of Vatican II said, the celebration of the
Eucharist draws "the faithful into the compelling love of Christ
and sets them afire." The Eucharist is the fountain from which
flows the Church's energy to carry on the apostolate and its work
for peace and justice.
Pray that we may all drink deeply at that fountain.
(Bp. Banks is the Bishop of Green Bay.)