By Dick Kunnert
Yeshua Board Member, Master Facilitator
I am having a dialogue with my daughter about how annoyed I am by a local practice of saying the Prayer to St. Michael at the end of Mass. Her position, as I hear it, is: “What’s the big deal?”
To me it is a big deal because it interrupts the meaning of the dismissal of the Mass.
The church teaches that the Mass is perfect worship. The presence of the Triune God is assured and at dismissal all present, the people of God, are to go back into the world to share the love which radiates from the Eucharistic celebration. (Remember this is our mission as lay people in the church -- to sanctify the people around us.)
What is the mystery? That is the overriding question. The church teaches the Eucharist is the source and summit of our relationship with God. As stated above it also teaches the liturgy of the Eucharist is perfect worship. If that is so, what is there to add? It fulfills the Great Commandment where we are commanded to love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart, mind and soul, and to love your neighbor as yourself.
Why make this an issue? Because there should be clarity about what people are being asked to return to. The old church depended upon having people attend Mass under a threat of mortal sin. The current church wants us to come out of love, love toward God and love toward the people of God.
The Eucharist is what makes Catholicism different from other Christian denominations. We tie our fundamental relationship to our God through the Real Presence of the Trinity in the liturgy of the Eucharist. So at the dismissal prayer of the Mass the intent is to keep the essence of our relationship with our God and take it into our daily life. The world needs the power of God’s love.
The addition of prayers to saints at the end of Mass cut into the essence of the Eucharistic feast. It is a form of mission drift. The profundity of Transubstantiation seems to exceed the spiritual benefit of a prayer to someone of lessor magnitude than God himself!
In the specific example of the St. Michael prayer there is a qualitative difference in the message between “go out and love one another!” versus “Michael, defend us in battle against Satan.”
Christian love will overcome the power of Satan -- if we are committed to live it.