Why we celebrate Mass

Mass, the celebration of the Eucharist, is the weekly high point in the life of any Catholic parish community. The community comes together on a Sunday and on Holy Days of Obligation to celebrate the Mass. It has been described as ‘the source and summit of the Christian life’ (Lumen Gentium 11, Catechism of the Catholic Church 1324).

It is the source of the Christian life because in the Sacrament of the Eucharist Christ gives himself fully and completely to each person receiving him in Holy Communion. “Take this, all of you and eat of it, for this is my body.” “Take this all of you and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my blood.” (See Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22).

It is the summit of the Christian life because every other sacrament and indeed our whole lives are ordered and directed towards our celebration of the Eucharist. For when we receive his body and blood in Holy Communion we offer ourselves with him to God the Father in the sacrifice of the Mass.

The Mass is thus both a meal and a sacrifice: a meal in which Christ gives himself to us as our spiritual food; a sacrifice in that Christ offers himself to the Father and we are each taken up sacramentally with him as one great offering to the Father. “May he (Christ) make of us an eternal offering to you (Father)” (Eucharistic Prayer 2).