“There I stood, a man incognito, a Protestant minister in plainclothes, slipping into the back of a Catholic chapel in Milwaukee to witness my first Mass. Curiosity had driven me there, and I still didn’t feel sure that it was a healthy curiosity. Studying the writings of the earliest Christians, I’d found countless references to “the liturgy,” “the Eucharist,” “the sacrifice.” For those first Christians, the Bible—the book I loved above all—was incomprehensible apart from the event that today’s Catholics called “the Mass”. || The Lamb’s Supper, Dr. Scott Hahn
What made Scott Hahn became Catholic?
Two words: the Liturgy.
Of course, there was more to it than that, but in The Lamb's Supper, he reveals why attending his first Catholic Mass was a major step toward communion with Rome.
Scott Hahn walked into that parish as an interested but a slightly critical, casual observer. He left as a convert. Granted, he didn’t immediately drop everything and say “I want to be a Catholic!” But his conversion was largely founded upon his understanding of the biblical roots of the Mass.
“ As the Mass moved on, however, something hit me. My Bible wasn’t just beside me. It was before me—in the words of the Mass! One line from Isaiah, another from the Psalms, another from Paul. The experience was overwhelming. I wanted to stop everything and shout, “Hey, can I explain what’s happening in Scripture? This is great!” Still, I maintained my observer status. I remained on the sidelines until I heard the priest pronounce the words of consecration: “This is My body… This is the cup of My blood”. Then I felt all my doubt drain away. As I saw the priest raise that white host, I felt a prayer surge from my heart in a whisper: “My Lord and my God. That’s really you!” || source
Why Understanding the Mass is Vital in Maintaining Attendance
Even if we attend Mass every Sunday, it's easy to be distracted in mind and heart. We follow along, but may not really thinking about the meaning behind the Mass.
We start stressing about the oncoming week. Job. Children. Sports. They fog our brains and before we know it the Mass is halfway over.
Further, we may not understand why we do what we do. Especially for those of us from a certain generation, liturgical catechesis was lacking.
This is an easy way to stray from the Faith. We see it clearly in the 2019 Pew study that found that only around 30% of Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
When we don't understand the Mass and why we're doing what we're doing, it becomes easier and easier to lose interest and purpose.
Maybe one just ceases to show up.
The Highest Form of Worship
Each part of the Mass is there for a reason. There is no random selection. But it’s easy to miss.
Scott Hahn became Catholic because the Mass made sense to him since he had studied the Scriptures.
“In less than a minute, the phrase “Lamb of God” had rung out four times. From the long years of studying the Bible, I immediately knew where I was. I was in the Book of Revelation, where Jesus is called the Lamb no less than twenty-eight times in twenty-two chapters. I was at the marriage feast that John describes as the end of that very last book of the Bible.” || source
What Can We Do to Increase Understanding of the Mass?
So what can we do to combat the problem of more and more Catholics failing to believe in the Lord's Eucharistic Presence and attend Mass?
One thing we can do is to study the Mass with our kids! We can reacquaint ourselves and introduce our children to the meaning behind our highest act of worship this side of Heaven.
The Mass is richly laden with meaning behind everything, from the Holy, Holy, Holy, to the words the priest utters as he cleanses his hands.
A Resource for Families on the Meaning of the Mass
If you want a systematic way to teach your children about the Mass and draw their hearts to Jesus in the Sacrament, this unit study was made for you.
In this printed unit study, you'll get access to:
- 100+ pages of open-and-go (no prep for you), rich content that explores the what's, why's, and how's of the Catholic Mass
- Catechesis presented through beautiful music, poetry, sacred art, map work, history, nature study, copywork, and more
- Games and activities for kids of all ages to learn the rhythm and elements of the Mass
- As many printed copies of the consumable pages as you need
- A list of living books that further instruction on the Mass
- A Scripture-heavy catechesis that teaches about the Mass in the full scope of Salvation History
This unit study can be used in whole-family catechesis, during Morning Time, or family devotional time. Ideal ages are 7-15!
What People are Saying
My son and I have deeply enjoyed this Mass Study. Our whole family recently joined the Catholic Church and all received our first communion together this year at Easter vigil. Going through this mass study this Fall has given my son and I such a deeper understanding of the Mass and is written with such joy about the Mass that it helps us fall deeper in love and in awe of this beautiful and most important part of our week.
Understanding the Mass is Vital in Our Spiritual Lives
A deepening understanding of the Mass is vital. As Dr. Hahn concludes:
Our heritage includes the whole of the Bible, the uninterrupted witness of the Mass, the constant etchings of the saints, the research of the schools, the methods of the contemplative prayer, and the pastoral care of the popes and bishops. In the Mass, you and I have heaven on earth. The Evidence is overwhelming. The experience is a revelation.
When did you come to recognize the through-line of Scripture in the Mass? How did it transform your participation?