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 Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, WisconsinApril 18, 2003 Issue 

Easter: Stewardship and Prayer

At Mass, we pray, draw strength

The Mass itself is a prayer where the church praises and thanks God

Last in a Lenten series on Stewardship -- A Life of Prayer

By Bishop Robert Banks
Stewardship: A Way of Life logo


Stewardship: A Way of Life is the diocesan thrust. It invites Catholics to acknowledge that all of life is a gift of God and to respond through prayer, service and sharing. This series will look at ways to do that.

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.

 • Easter-related articles

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 Mass.

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 Father.

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 us.

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.)

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