Senior Will Heinle reflected on Mass as an expression of community at the Opening of School Mass on Sept. 7.
I have been fortunate enough to attend Mass all over the country. Whether it’s the mountain hollows of West Virginia, the plains of Indiana or the poorest suburb of Wilmington, DE, they all share a trait: community.
When you expand those numbers to 70.4 million Catholics across thousands of Catholic churches in the United States alone, that’s a lot of community, both physically and spiritually. Within this vast community of Catholics are many subdivisions: your parish, your neighborhood, your diocese and so on. We, as St. John’s Cadets, are a community. Yet the community experience remains vibrant and welcoming across the board. Mass brings people together. More than just the warm “peace be with you” we exchange with our neighbors, we catch up with our friends and neighbors before and after the Mass. We welcome new or visiting members to our community with open outstretched arms, as we do with San Miguel today, as well as in each parish Mass I have attended. At this opening Mass, we welcome the Class of 2022 and transfers to our community. Welcome to St. John’s. Mass visibly spills over into our daily lives, such as when we pray before classes or when a team circles up to pray before a game. As normal people, when we struggle, we ask someone for help. As Catholics, when we struggle, it’s God and Mass that we turn to.
We need our communities. This is why I feel joy, not just in myself, but spreading throughout the congregation during Mass. Yet the greatest mystery of this unspoken joy is how it can be felt even in a congregation of strangers. I attribute this to the power of God and the Mass itself. As Catholics, you and I do not need to be in the presence of our closest friends and neighbors to celebrate. We are not here to celebrate ourselves, but rather we have been brought here by God as a family.
Let us remember we are in the holy presence of God.