Sherry Antonetti is a freelance writer, blogger and published author of The Book of Helen. She lives just outside of Washington, DC with her husband and their ten children.
Some Masses, one feels the weight of the world lifted. The union of Heaven and Earth that we know takes place at every celebration of the Mass is tangible.
Other Masses, one spends the time hoping somehow to get to that quiet place that once seemed so effortless. And some Masses, one goes and rests on the knowledge, despite all our distraction, Jesus is present, and grace abounds.
The problem is, we rely often on how we feel as an indicator of the “success” of the Mass. If the liturgy and the music and the homily somehow generate a feeling of peace or joy, the person talks about it having been a “good Mass,” and it was. If someone goes and doesn’t like the music or can’t quiet themselves or is constantly struggling with the all of it, they wonder why they go. In this Easter season, people come to Mass hoping to have an “experience.” But regardless of one’s feelings, the celebration was still a “good Mass.”
It was the Mass. If you went to big events and found yourself feeling unprepared, as if unready for the occasion, underdressed spiritually so to speak and wondering what you got out of it, rejoice.
You’ve received a gift. You’ve been offered the opportunity to enter deeper into God’s mysterious abiding love, to know all the spaces in your soul that have yet to allow God’s love to overflow into them.
God’s grace permeates everything, can pierce any soul, but only does so at the behest of the soul itself. So thank God for that awareness of your emptiness. It is a quiet people spend their whole Lent seeking to find, a quiet we cannot create, we can only seek. We just spent the 40 plus days wandering in the desert using prayer, fasting, the sacraments, stillness in front of the Eucharist, and listening to Scripture — looking for the Burning Bush, for the Lamb we’re to sacrifice, for our own lives to quiet enough to hear the still small voice of God who is always speaking, always whispering to our souls, “Be opened.”
As the women walking to the tomb to anoint Christ’s body, the rolling away of the stone from our hearts is not something we can do. It is a gift of God’s grace. However the bracing rush of the Holy Spirit into the cave of our souls accentuates for each of us, all the parts of ourselves that ache, all the parts which are empty. So if you didn’t “feel” something this Easter, rejoice. Rejoice because you know something of your emptiness, of your need for God. The mass is a celebration of love, and love is always more than our feelings.
We are only the earthen vessels, always seeking to hold more of the precious body and blood of Christ. Trust that this emptiness is in preparation of the more of Pentecost. Spend this Easter season preparing for the coming of more.