Emily: Have you ever wondered what heaven looks like?
Edmund: Yeah, and I’m sure this thought has crossed a lot of people’s minds. If we (hopefully) want to spend the rest of eternity there… it seems natural to wonder what it will be like.
Emily: Exactly. And many people might not know that there’s actually a vision of heaven described in the Bible.
Edmund: The Apostle John was given a vision of heaven, and he wrote about it. The title of this book of the Bible comes from the first Greek word St. John used – Apokalypsis – which means “unveiling” or “revelation” because God gave him a revelation of heaven.
Emily: And part of the Book of Revelation includes a vision of heavenly worship.
Edmund: If you read Revelation closely, you can see that many parts resemble the Mass. The Mass is the fullest participation in divine life we can have here on earth.
And it’s been celebrated since the earliest days of Christianity.
Emily: As early as the second century, we have the witness of St. Justin Martyr, who wrote a basic outline of the order of the Eucharistic celebration. These roots have stayed the same even until today.
Edmund: So let’s look at the basic outline of the Mass. There are two great “movements” of the Mass. The first is the Liturgy of the Word, and the second is the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Emily: In the Liturgy of the Word, we hear Jesus speak to us in the Scriptures — a reading from the Old Testament, a Psalm, a reading from one of the New Testament epistles, and a reading from the Gospel.
Edmund: And in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the altar is prepared and we participate in the sacrifice and banquet of the Eucharist.
Emily: There’s a key moment in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, where the priest prays that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God. And the faithful add to the prayer that the sacrifice may be “for the praise and glory of his name, for our good, and the good of all his holy Church.”
Edmund: We’re praying with the entire Church in heaven and on earth.
Emily: The Catechism says in paragraph 1414, “ As sacrifice, the Eucharist is also offered in reparation for the sins of the living and the dead..”
Edmund: And this is part of the reason the Catechism also says, “The Eucharist makes the Church” in paragraph 1396. In the Mass, we hear Jesus speak to us in the Scriptures, we also participate in his sacrifice on the cross, and we share and are united to Jesus’ own act of Thanksgiving instituted at the Last Supper. We also respond and are able to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. Then are sent out on mission, just like the disciples!
Emily: There’s another amazing part of the Mass that helps us understand that the Mass is a participation in heavenly worship. During what’s called the Sanctus, we pray and sing: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts, Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
This is one of the most important parts of the Mass that we participate in. The phrase “Holy, Holy, Holy” is a powerful phrase that appears once in Isaiah 6 and once in the book of Revelation during the worship of God by the angels and the saints. Here, both the prophet and John are given a glimpse at what is happening in heaven!
Edmund: Jesus himself is made present in the Eucharist during Mass. So by participating in Mass, we participate in the heavenly worship of Jesus Christ.
Emily: In the Mass, we worship in the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ, to the Father. The priest stands in the place of Jesus Christ and we’re able to participate in Jesus’ offering and sacrifice of himself to the Father in the Holy Spirit. Heaven and earth, all the angels and saints, come together in communion with Jesus Christ to participate in this worship of God.
Edmund: This is why the Catechism reminds us in paragraph 1090 “In the earthly liturgy we share in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the Holy City of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims”
Emily: Having passed from this world to the Father, Christ gives us in the Eucharist the pledge of glory with him.
Edmund: Participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass identifies us with his heart, sustains our strength along the pilgrimage of this life, makes us long for eternal life, and unites us even now to the Church in heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints. This is why the Mass is the fullest participation in the divine life that we can have here on earth.