- Introduction: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
- Gender and Beauty – Goodness in the Appealing Nature of a Woman’s Body, the Pinnacle of God’s Creative Beauty
- Gender and Beauty – Clothing, Relationships, and Dating
- Body vs. Soul
- Mass Intimacy
- Prayer Tips for Spiritual Eros
- Conclusion: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
During the Jubilee Year 2000, I was at a Mass where my bishop, John Ricard, consecrated our diocese to Mary. It was a beautiful Mass at my parish, the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, in my adopted hometown of Pensacola, Florida. During the Liturgy I was filled with the Divine and intimate love of the Blessed Trinity. It was at this moment that I realized that the Mass is the intimate nuptial union with God, thus of Heaven, making the Eucharist a foretaste of the intimate love God has in store for us in the Beatific Vision.
With this understanding that was given to me as a gift from God, I was able to see the Mass completely in a new light. The Mass is a means for God to share His love for us, and to have an intimate and personal relationship with us.
The Mass is a re-presentation of the Paschal Mysteries in an unbloody manner through the consecration of bread and wine by a priest. With this important understanding of the sacrifice of the mass we can analyze its theological truths by seeing that it is divided into two parts: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. It is these two parts that we in the Roman Rite call the Sacrifice of the Mass, or as the eastern rites call it, the Divine Liturgy. There are many books written by amazing Catholic scholars which will provide greater study of the Mass, some of which I have listed below this article. Because of space and thime, this article is just a thumbnail sketch.
The Liturgy of the Word:
During the Liturgy of the Word, the bible is read with a focus on the Old and New Testament readings. The Old Testament readings prefigure Jesus, telling us that the saving work of God is yet to be fulfilled. The New Testament readings fulfill the Old Testament readings with the grand finale of the Gospel, showcasing the works of Jesus Christ, and how He is the Messiah. After the Gospel is proclaimed by the priest or deacon, the readings are discussed by the clergy, in what is called a homily; preaching on the meaning of the day’s Scripture readings, and how the readings can be implemented in our lives today.
So how does this connect to the intimacy and the love God wishes to share with us in the Mass? To understand this reality, the analogy of love poetry can be used. When a Man is romancing a Woman, he might serenade her or write love poetry as a means to express his romantic love (Eros) for her. These romantic gestures may stir in the woman’s heart a wish to marry the man. Using this analogy, we can connect it to the Liturgy of the Word. Jesus Christ is the one who is romancing us. Scripture is like “love poetry”, stirring in our hearts the love of God in us, prompting us to hopefully have us embrace the Divine Bridegroom, just as a man hopes the woman he is romancing, will embrace him in Marriage. For us in the spiritual realm, we enter into a marital bond with Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism. This “marriage” is consummated in the Beatific Vision, and we receive a foretaste of it through the Blessed Sacrament. The Boble is often referred to as a collection of love letters from God to humanity.
The Liturgy of the Eucharist:
Jesus Christ is the perfect lover, and in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, Jesus Christ fully gives of himself to us, His Bride, through the offering of bread and wine. It is our duty to reciprocate the gift of ourselves back to the Lord all the days of our lives, and in the most profound way, during the Mass. It is at the Mass where we can offer our joys and sufferings to the crucified Jesus for the redemption of ourselves and for others, by uniting the offering of ourselves to the offering of bread and wine during the Consecration. The priest even says in the Orate fraters, “Pray my brothers and sisters that your sacrifice and mine, may be acceptable to God, the Almighty Father.” This statement by the priest recognizes the reality that we are to be living sacrifices for others, just like Jesus Christ. The sacrificial nature of offering yourself for the redemption of souls is analogous to a Husband and Wife making love with each other. In the Sacrament of Marriage, a ManHusbandDad gives of himself completely to his beloved in the act of making love. The Man and the Woman fully give of themselves to each other in this profound intimate way that the intimate embrace can be so powerful that nine months later the self gift of love can be given a name. Instead of a child being conceived, Jesus Christ conceives in us His life-giving love, transforming us, and those we are praying for, into holier beings. In other words, the gift of sanctification is the gift of new life which Jesus wishes to give us, so that we can be with Him in Heaven.
Although Eucharistic Adoration is a devotion which takes place outside of Mass, it is still connected to it. Eucharistic Adoration, in a way, suspends the Mass, and pauses it. Just like how men and women who are in love with each other, enjoy cuddling in front of a fire, gazing into each other’s eyes, and sharing what is on their hearts to each other; the same can be said about Jesus Christ. Jesus is the perfect lover who wishes to “cuddle with us” and share his desires for us and wanting us to reciprocate back. Eucharistic Adoration is a great moment of spiritual intimacy, because we can spend more time gazing and contemplating the face of our Divine Lover. Yes, we do get to spend intimate time with Jesus when we consume the Eucharist at Mass; which is the greatest act of intimacy, but at Mass the Liturgy goes by quickly and the time of reflection with Jesus goes by too fast. Although Eucharistic Adoration is not the greatest act of intimacy with the Blessed Sacrament, it is still however a deep, intimate, bond because we get to spend as much time as we want, reflecting and talking with our Blessed Lord.
We must always remember that when we receive the Blessed Sacrament, we must be in a state of grace with no mortal sins on our hearts. In human relationships, lovers never want to be divided from each other because those relationships are never able to flourish; creating a divorce. Sin causes divorce between us and our lover, Jesus Christ, and to have intimacy with Jesus we must try hard to be holy. Trying hard to be holy and open to Christ to the best of our abilities enables us to receive the graces Christ wishes to bestow upon us in Mass and in Eucharistic Adoration.
Because the Eucharist is the true presence of Christ; the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus, veiled in the appearance of bread and wine, it is the greatest of all the sacraments. In other words, the Eucharist truly is Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, veiled. Since the Eucharist is truly Jesus Christ, the Blessed Sacrament is the source and summit of our faith, and our whole life and existence is ordered toward the Eucharistic: Jesus. Since the Eucharist has so much power, we need to accept this amazing gift as a gift of love, and use the graces from the Eucharist to sanctify our human loves, and to live out the Twelve Righteous Virtues.
In my next article, I will give some tips on prayers that we may use in the spiritual form of Eros. May we all embrace the Sacred Heart of the perfect lover Jesus Christ in our daily lives, so that we may one day be with Him for eternity.
For more on the Divine and intimate love of the Blessed Trinity, consider reading First Comes Love: Finding Your Family in the Church and the Trinity by Dr. Scott Hahn.
I write more about the Eucharist being a foretaste of the intimate love God has in store for us in the Beatific Vision in my book, Sacraments of Initiation: Intimacy This Side of Heaven by Nicholas H. Kovacs, O.F.S.
To understand more about embracing the Divine Bridegroom, see Jesus the Bridegroom: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Brant Pitre.
To know more about how our marital bond with Christ is consummated in the Beatific Vision and how we receive a foretaste of it through the Blessed Sacrament, I suggest The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth by Dr. Scott Hahn.
Theology of the Body by St. Pope John Paul II is something worthy of your attention and time. Many authors and organizations have produced literature and works and understanding from this series of Wednesday Audiences the Pope gave soon after his pontificate started. IT is a watershed teaching and has defined a generation of Catholics in their understanding of their vocations and the beauty of Chastity, Marriage, and Love. Once fully promulgated throughout the Church, it may be the defining attitude that brings about the Catholic Church as once again the vanguard of purity and Truth in our fallen world.