There been much tension regarding the Mass as both a meal and a sacrifice. A necessary corrective was introduced in the past twenty years to rectify the overly strong emphasis, heavily advanced during the 1970s and 1980s, on the Mass as a meal. The purpose of the corrective was to bring back needed balance with the root of the Mass: the cross and the overall paschal mystery.
While we cannot dismiss the idea of the Mass as a meal, we must understand what sort of meal it is. When most people today hear the word “meal,” they do not think of a holy banquet or wedding feast, but more of an informal meal. And informality in American culture has become very informal indeed! We rarely dress up anymore; formal banquets, black-tie dinners, and the like are rare.
Thus our understanding of the Mass as a meal is colored by our culture’s informal definition, which is not intended in the Church’s understanding of the Mass. Permit, then, some of the following correctives:
- The Mass is a meal, but it is no ordinary meal.The Mass is a sacred meal or banquet (Sacrum Convivium) and also the great Wedding Feast of the Lamb, for which one should be properly clothed (seeRev 19:6-9; Matt 22:12-13). This meal is not an informal one; it is a great banquet that should be esteemed and for which one should be prepared.
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