What Is The Mass? A good way to describe the Mass is to say that it is Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday made present today in ritual. It is not merely a meal which reminds us of the Last Supper, or a Passion Play which helps recall Good Friday, or a Sunrise Service which celebrates the Lord’s Resurrection. It is Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
The basic “shape” of the ritual of the Mass can be described as a meal. This is not to say it is “just an-other meal” or that we are ignoring the Mass as a sacrifice. Not at all. The point is, the shape of the Mass, even when viewed as sacrifice, is that of a meal. For our purposes, we can be greatly helped in our “walk through” the Mass if we remember this basic “meal shape.”
When friends gather for a meal, they sit and talk; eventually they move to the table, say grace, pass the food and eat and drink, and finally take their leave and go home. On our walk through the Mass we will follow this same map: we will see ritual acts of 1) gathering 2) storytelling 3) meal sharing & 4)commissioning.