Mother Angelica, one of the most significant figures in the post-conciliar Catholic Church in America, has died after a 14-year struggle with the after effects of a stroke. I can attest that, in “fashionable” Catholic circles during the 80s and 90s of the last century, it was almost de rigueur to make fun of Mother Angelica. She was (accused as) a crude popularizer, an opponent of Vatican II, an arch-conservative, a culture-warrior, etc., etc. …
The Third Commandment is, “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day”. (Ex 20:8) In the Jewish tradition the Sabbath is on Saturday. Why the change? As Christians, we celebrate it on Sundays because it is the day of the Resurrection. If we still celebrated the Sabbath on Saturdays, we would be celebrating Jesus’ death still, but not the Resurrection.
In the Mass we are present to the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Himself. The Eucharist makes this present to us. What humanity goes through, He goes through. We suffer and die, so Jesus came, suffered and died. We have a sacred bond with Him. He knows all our trials and sufferings. He has compassion on us and is willing to forgive us our sins. He does what we do, suffer and die, so that we may do what He does. He rose from the dead. He has eternal life. He raises us up. What we celebrate happens. That is why the Sabbath is on Sunday.
The old Sabbath was on the final day of creation, the seventh day. We have made a mess of creation. When He rose from the dead, He created the whole world anew (Rev 21:5). It is the eighth day of creation. Sunday is the beginning of the week and the end of the week. It is the Alpha and the Omega. It is where all things are complete and come to fulfillment. It is the day of worship, where we give God His due. Then He brings us His grace.
The Sunday Sabbath is a day of worship as Jesus laid it out for us at the Last Supper. He set out the ritual and then what the ritual symbolizes actually happened. Jesus suffered, died and rose from the dead. The ritual of the Mass makes all this happen. Jesus set this up not so that He can gain from our worship. Jesus is God and is perfect in Himself. He does not need our worship. Rather He allows us to participate in His worship so that we may benefit from it.
We are what we do. When a person steals something, they are a thief. When someone kills someone, they are called a murderer. When we sin, we lower ourselves to an undignified state. But when we do what is good: give to the poor, help a person in need or give God the praise due to Him, we are raised up too. We are raised up according the goodness of the act and how much we [participate in it.
How well do we participate in the Mass? The Mass was given to us by Jesus as the highest form of worship possible. In the Mass are the secrets of what angels do. We say what angels say as revealed in the Bible. We become present to all of heaven and all of heaven becomes present with us, though we may not see heaven. In the Catholic worship, we are participating with the celestial beings in what they do. The Mass, the Sabbath, is an invitation and an obligation to do what no human can do by their own power. It is a participation of things above our nature. It is supernatural. How’s that for benefits?