Why a Beautiful Mass Is Not Enough

We have a huge problem in the Catholic Church related to what happens when Catholics go to Mass. It’s described in an article entitled “Changing the Culture,” written by Bob Sutton and published in The Catechetical Review this past spring. This article is at the top of my list of what every Catholic in the United States needs to read.

Sutton quotes Section 1072 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which says that sacraments “must be preceded by evangelization, faith and conversion.” If this evangelization, faith and conversion have not taken place, even the most beautiful Mass will not be fruitful for those who participate.

In fact, the word “participate” is not even an adequate word. As Sutton explains, the Mass is not about participation. It’s about transformation. And there is no transformation, no fruit from our being at Mass, unless even before we go to Mass, certain realities exist.

Those realities are the following:
(1) We have a personal faith in God.
(2) We have a personal understanding of what it means to give our life to God.
(3) We desire to live a new life in Christ.
(4) The new life we desire flows from personal repentance and conversion.

If any of these 4 realities are missing, the fruitfulness of the sacraments can be blocked.

For the majority of Catholics, these realities are not only missing, they are not even talked about. As Sutton says about his experience, “No one had ever modeled for me in my Catholic schooling or in my parish a discipled life flowing from the Eucharist, complete with active and visible spiritual fruit.”

Sutton asks some really good questions:

“Are those who participate in the liturgy being transformed by the encounter with Christ that it provides?

“Are the activities in the parish organically flowing from and connected to the Mass as an engine of spiritual power?”

“Do we think God is happy with warm bodies rather than active disciples?”

Please reflect on these thoughts, these questions. We’ll talk about the “evangelization, repentance and conversion” that Sutton refers to in our next post.