Mini-mass

This Lent, I am receiving the daily “5 Minutes of Caring” emails from www.coolpeoplecare.org,  which are full of helpful suggestions for positive action in the world.  Their slogan is “Because there’s no such thing as not enough time.”  I have often heard folks in independent sacramental circles claim that they have no time to cultivate a eucharistic life.  Now, if you define a eucharistic life as celebrating a three hour liturgy in a dead language every day, it might pose a wee bit of a challenge, unless you are retired, single, and have no friends.   For the rest of us, there is no excuse.  We just have to think outside the box.

First, we can strive to let all our meals take on more of a eucharistic character.  We can bless our food (even if silently in a restaurant with co-workers) asking that God’s life meet us in the simple act of eating.  Being thankful for the food we have, we can donate to programs for the hungry, or cook a fabulous meal for a homeless shelter or Food Not Bombs.  We can try to eat nourishing, local food, which has been compassionately and responsibly produced, lovingly prepared, and shared with friends.  Surely such ways of eating bring us closer to eucharist than swallowing corporate fast food while driving. 

We can revive the ancient practice of sending consecrated bread and wine home with folks after mass, so that they can commune themselves regularly until the next gathering.  We have done this locally, with very good results.  If you have reserved communion on hand, who cannot manage a few moments of quiet, the Lord’s Prayer, and a quick partaking?   If folks are inclined to eucharistic adoration (alright, Alexis, I can hear you all the way across the Atlantic!), indie priest Father Seraphim McCune makes mini-monstrances: http://maxpages.com/stseraphim/Monstrance – scroll down the page for the little ones.  I have one, and the website photo does not do it justice.  Father Seraphim does lovely work, and has improved the design since the website went up.  You liturgy freaks know that you want one. 🙂

If you have a conservative Roman Catholic devotional manual sitting around, you will find a practice called “the Mass of St John” or sometimes “Spiritual Communion,” in which you go through some of the prayers of the mass, joining yourself in spirit to the eucharist as it is celebrated around the world.   A bit more boldly, you can pray the liturgy inwardly, offering your own body and blood to be transmuted into the presence of Christ, which will then be offered to the world through your daily living.  (Thanks, Mariel, for this practice.) 

Finally, there are a number of very short forms of the mass which can be celebrated alone, in a family setting, or with a small group.  No matter who is physically present, the eucharist always gathers the whole church, living and dead, angelic and human, in intercession for the world.   There is a short rite well-suited to post-Vatican II Roman sensibilities in the Sacramentary of the Servant Catholic Church.  An equally brief liturgy, from a more esoteric perspective, is the Priest’s Daily Communion, from the Sanctuary Manual of the Holy Order of MANS.   These rites, when celebrated with maximum simplicity, take less than 10 minutes.  The Mariavites created a “People’s Mass” which can be done by anyone – lay or ordained.  It consists of little more than the words of institution, followed by thanksgiving.  (Father Chris Tessone – http://chris.tessone.net – is working on translating this important document, which has never appeared in English.)   To give only one more example, the Sangreal Sodality (www.sangrealsodality.org) has recently posted William Gray’s mini-eucharist, “A Mass of Moments,” on their website.  While my theology and preferred language differ from Gray’s, his rite is structurally very interesting, and might hold promise for your own liturgical writing.

Bottom line:  There’s no such thing as not enough time for the eucharist on a very regular, even daily, basis.  How about “5 Minutes of Communing” every day for Lent?

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9 Responses to “Mini-mass”

  1. Alexis Says:

    Very cool post John!

    I particularly like the idea of sending consecrated eucharist home with people in the community.

    And yes I was laughing very loudly! Does laughter carry over oceans? 🙂

  2. John Says:

    If people have other ideas and practices, I hope they post them. There are so many ways. One could do an “agape” with the eucharist around a table, before, during, or after a communal meal. Or even at a restaurant or cafe – order bread and wine first, with the rest of the meal to follow. While traditional liturgy is wonderful, I’m all about finding ways to partake more frequently. Jesus gives himself into our hands in the eucharist, and we should not be afraid of him! To borrow again from Mariel, I guess I’m just a communion junkie!

  3. Fr. Seraphim McCune Says:

    +John,
    Actually, the Mini-Monstrance pictured on the site now is the one I made for you! You’re still right about the pictures doing no justice. Ah, such is the way it is when you use a low-budget camera phone! Glad you liked it and thanks for the free advertising again!

    I cannot tell you how many times I have found myself meditating on the idea that Jesus put Himself in human hands at Golgotha and in every Eucharist ever since. Wonderful thought, that one.
    Fr. S

  4. Tom Gilbert Says:

    Hi John, I’d like to suggest a Teilhardian “Mass on the World”. I have been utilizing such an approach in terms of spiritual communion for many years. It is easily combined with a minimalistic, zen-like liturgy which can be put to memory. I found this type of spiritual communion to be especially rewarding when I used to spent hour after hour by myself loading trucks for a living. Just me and God in a tractor-trailer truck.

  5. Alexis Says:

    HI John,

    We developed an experimental eucharist that put the sacrament in the context of a community meal. I’ve put a PDF version up on our web page – in the resources section – for those who might be interested (http://www.gracecatholic.net)

  6. Will Says:

    John, this is a really great post. I have seen photos of the Mariavite “People’s Mass,” and it seems that it is a great, personal devotion to those in that tradition.

    Can you give the source for the Sacramentary of the Servant Catholic Church? Google has been unsuccessful for me. I found the HOOM liturgy.

    Thanks!

  7. John Says:

    Hi Will – My copy of the Servant Catholic sacramentary was a gift, some years ago. It is in two volumes, and is a quite useful source for progressive, Roman-style liturgies. Try contacting the Servant Catholics. The last I heard, they were led by Bishop Grace Burns of Central Islip, New York. Maybe you can turn up contact info for her on infospace or wherever. If you obtain ordering information, please share it.

    And thanks to everyone for the great suggestions, resources, etc! Off-blog, folks have emailed about Teilhardian ideas similar to Tom’s (offering the world itself as the host) and the experience of an informal communion in a wine bar (sounds like fun!). Keep ’em coming!

  8. Mark Hoemmen Says:

    A bit more boldly, you can pray the liturgy inwardly, offering your own body and blood to be transmuted into the presence of Christ, which will then be offered to the world through your daily living.

    I’m intrigued by this idea — while it certainly doesn’t jive with a communal liturgy (the blessing and giving elements of a traditional Eucharistic liturgy, as well as the mediated Godhood (“do this in memory of me”), seem essential), it’s a different way of looking at the elements. The traditional liturgy does emphasize the mingling of natural growth and human effort (“fruit of the vine and work of human hands”) that produced the bread and wine — which is why we favor bread and wine made by hand (as it is blessed by the hands of the worker who made it, or the feet if the grapes were trodden in the old-world way 😉 ).

    An “inward liturgy” would seem to extrapolate that mingling inwards: the priest’s body and blood are both the product of natural growth and human effort (the intention of conception, the parents’ effort in raising their child, all the mentors that the priest may have had throughout his or her life). Since “you become what you eat” anyway, it would seem possible to skip the consumption step and have Jesus inside you at the moment of consecration.

    Nevertheless, I think it’s important to go through that step of eating and drinking, as we are human beings and the physical act of nourishment means a lot to us. There’s a reason why Jesus in John 6 uses the animal word for eating 🙂 That instinct and bodily response to eating connects to our soul, because we are body and soul together.

    I remember reading in a bio of Fr. Teilhard that he developed the “Mass on the World” in part because he was prohibited from celebrating a traditional Mass, yet still felt the need to exercise his priestly ministry.

  9. Paul Kitchenham Says:

    Hi there,
    Has Fr Chris completed his translation of the Mariavite People’s Mass yet? I couldn’t make the e-mail facility on his blog work. The photos in Professor Peterkiewicz’ book are truly moving and I would love to have the text of the Mass.
    Best Wishes,
    Paul Kitchenham, UK

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