‘Go Forth, the Mass Is Ended’

The placement of St. Peter and St. Paul in the dome is one of my favorite details in our church’s artwork. As we approach the altar from the center aisle, St. Peter is above us—the apostle who first declared Jesus to be the Messiah—reminding us of Whom we are receiving. At the end of Mass, as we exit up the center aisle, St. Paul is front and center above us—the great missionary apostle who took the Word of God out into the world, reminding us of our own mission to invite people into relationship with Jesus and His Church.

In recent weeks, our parish has worked hard to provide the sacraments safely to parishioners. We are livestreaming Masses and Adoration, posting recordings of all our Masses on our YouTube Channel and offering in-person Adoration in the worship space with additional safety protocols. Our priests are hearing curbside confessions at all scheduled times; we organized drive-through palms distribution, veneration of the Cross, and bishop’s blessings; and on Divine Mercy Sunday, we livestreamed a Eucharistic Procession through Albertville and St. Michael, bringing our Lord in the flesh to our neighborhoods and senior living communities.

These are beautiful opportunities to receive God’s graces, but we can always do more to meet the earthly needs of our community. It is tempting to ask, “Why are we not makings masks, feeding the hungry, and reaching out in more tangible ways?” The Letter of James poses a similar question:

If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? – James 2:15-16

So what are we doing at St. Michael Catholic Church? The generosity of our parishioners in recent weeks has been truly humbling, enabling us to continue to offer financial support to organizations like our local Society of St. Vincent de Paul as well as individuals in need in our community. And now that our parish staff can return to work, we are systematically reaching out to all parish families to uncover the needs in our community as well as those who are able to work to meet those needs.

But it is important for all of us to understand that the mission to go and make disciples and to provide the “necessities of the body” to those in need is our mission. The first focus of our clergy and our church ought to be the things that only they can provide: the graces of the Mass, the Eucharist, Confession and the other sacraments. Our priests feed and strengthen us—the Body of Christ—to go out on mission. Indeed, the origin of the word “Mass” is the phrase “Ite Missa Est” taken from the end of the Latin Mass: Go, she [the Church] is sent.” Mass is rooted in missa—the same root as “mission.” And that mission is primarily ours.

So in the coming days and weeks, when the parish calls, don’t be afraid to share your needs; it’s why Christ established a Church. But we are that Church. If you can help others in the community, let the parish know that, too—but please, don’t wait to help those in need. We are already sent

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Blogger’s Note: This reflection was originally published in the Sunday, May 3, edition of the St. Michael Catholic Church bulletin.

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