I was walking to my car after 5 o’clock Mass at UD last week on a crisp, chilly evening and I couldn’t help but look up at the blue-gray sky, with its flat, stretched out white clouds moving and swirling quickly across its vast dome. I had a strange feeling of being very light as I walked and my eyes were naturally drawn upward. I had not felt such a child-like sense of wonder and awe in a long time. I was so wrapped up in the hugeness and openness of the sky that I stopped in the middle of the Braniff parking lot, gazing upwards with my hands in my jacket pockets, and just smiled in gratitude. My cold breath seemed from my point of view to mingle with the clouds, and I felt a joyful laugh coming on, so I just let it out. This got me a weird look from some people passing by, as I probably looked half-crazy, but I didn’t mind. This quote sums up how I felt:
“When we receive Holy Communion, we experience something extraordinary – a joy, a fragrance, a well-being that thrills the whole body and causes it to exalt.” —St. Jean Vianney
Standing there, I could not “take in” the fact that I that I had just taken into my body the God who created something as majestic as the sky and clouds. Yet those don’t even scratch the surface of the beauty of the entire universe – mountains, trees, flowers, rivers, oceans, stars, planets, galaxies. And even those are mere reflections of the splendor of heaven, which is far above anything we can imagine here on earth.
I was grateful in that moment for how incredible Mass is. God the Father created heaven and earth through his Son – “through him all things were made” as we say in the Nicene Creed, who in turn gives Himself totally to us at Mass through the Holy Spirit. All we have to do is be open to His grace, attend Mass devoutly, and believe with our whole being that the small wafer that we eat is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the Son of God.
If you want a “personal relationship with Jesus” there is no more sure-fire way than consuming Him in the Eucharist, or adoring Him in the monstrance. There is nothing better for your soul than taking the Eucharist sincerely and reverently. With His divine essence He will elevate your sinful nature to be more like His divine one. His grace will perfect your human nature, and orient it towards the good, which means seeing the good in everything and everyone.
I was trying to put this divine mystery into practical terms and when I got to my car, a trusty ’98 Volvo S 70, this thought hit me: among other things, the sacraments are like spiritual modes of transportation. They keep the Church running and relevant, with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass being perhaps the most important one. It is what sustains the Church, because it originates directly from the Cross. It is the one sacrament that is happening 24/7 around the world. This got me thinking: what mode of transportation do people rely on and use the most? In most countries at least, it would be their cars. Mass could be seen as the spiritual car of the Church (cue the “Jesus, Take the Wheel” song by Carrie Underwood). It gets your soul where it wants to go, and in a convenient and reliable manner.
It isn’t just any car though. It would have to be the fastest, most powerful, best engineered car in the world. The Bugatti Veyron fits that description. It has 1,020 horsepower, two V8 engines, a top speed of 253 mph and has been called the “pinnacle of automotive engineering”. The price tag sits anywhere from $2.5 million to $4 million, and this goes along with the analogy, as Jesus paid a heavy price to redeem mankind on the Cross. It has the highest top speed of any street legal production car, but it can also go from 0 to 60 mph in 2.46 seconds, which is mind-blowingly fast. This is precisely what the Mass and Eucharist will do for your soul—they will speed up your spiritual progress. Most Masses are only 45 minutes to an hour long, but their benefits are literally infinite. As St. Padre Pio says, “The Mass is infinite like Jesus…Ask an angel what the Mass is, and he will reply to you in truth, ‘I understand what it is and why it is offered, but I do not, however, understand how much value it has.’ One angel, a thousand angels, all of Heaven know this and think like this.”
However mysterious it seems, every baptized Roman Catholic should know that in the Mass, we have the “pinnacle of spiritual engineering”. Jesus with his Holy Sacrifice has purchased an infinite amount of spiritual Bugatti Veyrons and put them in our driveways. They are freely given and the keys are in our hands. We just have to hop in, start the car, and get movin’ by accepting His sanctifying grace in faith and letting it transform us into saintly people of God.