WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER
Fr. Paul Moret says the importance of God's word in the Eucharist cannot be underestimated.
EDMONTON – At Mass are two tables, the table of God's word through proclamation of the Scriptures, and the table of the altar where the Holy Eucharist is consecrated.
"We have been very much focused over the years on the Eucharist and the reception of Holy Communion, yet sometimes we've forgotten how important the Word of God is," said Father Paul Moret, pastor at St. Anthony and St. Agnes parishes.
Moret spoke at the archdiocese's second catechesis session on the Mass, held Feb. 15 at Newman Theological College.
Close to 50 people heard his talk live, The Mass: Two Tables. Others listened via webcam broadcast.
"Mary conceived Jesus in her heart before she conceived him in her body," said Moret.
"We need to welcome Jesus, first of all, through his Word, because we know at Eucharist that Jesus' presence is still veiled from us."
The Bible should always have a very important place in one's heart and in one's life, he said. The Church venerates the Scriptures the way she venerates the body of the Lord. In both, Jesus reveals himself.
"We need to be shown the presence of Jesus and the Scriptures are one of the ways in which his presence can be made manifest to us," said Moret.
Moret said he learned the Bible as a child by going to daily Mass. One will hear most of the New Testament and a good portion of the Old Testament by going to Mass daily for two years.
Moret shared an excerpt from the Road to Emmaus story (Luke 24.13-35).
In the story, Jesus interpreted scriptural references of himself from Moses and all of the prophets. The disciples' hearts burned when Jesus explained himself. Later, he took bread, blessed and broke it, before vanishing from their sight.
"It's so important for us to see that this is the structure of the holy Mass," said Moret. "There is no part of the Mass that is more important. It's a whole reality, and we cannot underestimate the importance of the Word of God as we celebrate the Holy Eucharist."
He also touched on the new English translation of the Roman Missal, a divisive subject among Catholics lately.
The Roman Missal was first translated into English following the Second Vatican Council, during the 1960s, an era known for society's rejection of establishment and authority. The result was a translation done in what Moret called, "a very chummy sort of way in the language chosen to address God."
Some people familiar with Latin were dissatisfied with the translation, especially in regards to the distortion of scriptural references. Lost in translation was the poetry of the original Latin text.
"The scriptural references are all over the place in the prayers of the Mass. The way it was translated though, it's not that they were being lost completely, but they were being somewhat obscured," explained Moret.
Also lost in the former translation was the atmosphere, said Moret, the whole sense that at Mass people are coming into the presence of a king.
"God, even though he has humbled himself to come among us as a man and even though he desires to enter into a friendship with us, we have to always remember that it's not a friendship among equals," said Moret.
"God is still God, and we cannot lose that fact."
People have become sloppy in how they enter the presence of God. Some file in late for church with their Tim Hortons coffee. They chew gum. They dress casually and in baseball caps.
"I'm not saying this so you can judge others and point your finger at somebody else. That's not helpful. All of us have to look at this ourselves, at how we are approaching the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass," said Moret.
He urged people to show utmost respect with the little things one does in preparation for Mass.
The new translation speaks to this inattentiveness.
"When we look at the new translation of the Roman Missal, we see that one of the aspects is a much more exalted way we are addressing God," said Moret.
Attendance at Mass is not only expected, but it is also a moral obligation. Without a worthy excuse, such as illness, inclement weather or the care of children, Sunday attendance is compulsory. Those who fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.
As the summit of a Catholic person's life, he urges people to prepare for Mass through study, fasting, and praying the rosary. Poring over the readings ahead of time can help a person understand those readings more thoroughly.
The archdiocesan offices of liturgy and catechesis present a series of six evenings of catechesis on the Mass. The first catechesis session was held in January, which featured a talk by Father Paul Kavanagh, archdiocesan director of liturgy.
Webcasts are available for viewing at www.caedm.ca/webcast.
The next session is March 14 at 7 p.m., again at Newman College, with Father Stephen Hero speaking on The Mass: Real Presence.