It is no secret that it is hard for a reverent Catholic to find a beautiful Mass. The desire for reverence is not the desire for a valid Mass, for the Mass—however obnoxious or orderly—is valid thanks to the Grace of God. However, the spirit of reverence adds to the power and majesty of the Mass; moreover, the spirit of reverence is the most fervent manifestation of faith in an age not of unbelief, but of crudity and crassness.
St. John Chrysostom warned us never to be indifferent to God: “In approaching God, by contrast, we yawn, scratch ourselves, look this way and that, pay little attention, loll on the ground…If on the contrary we were to approach him with due reverence and prepare ourselves to converse with him as God, then we would know, even before receiving what we asked, how much benefit we gain.” Reverence is at the heart of worship. In fact, reverence’s highest manifestation is through worship. For in total awareness, understanding of the good things God has bestowed, we are moved to worship the God of creation, grace, and salvation. Reverence is the way we give back an appreciation and understanding of God’s love for us.
Part of the fundamental truth of the Catholic religion is not merely the recognition that Christ is present in the Eucharist, but the awareness that we ourselves are temples of the Lord and part of the Body of Christ. Every Catholic is an instantiated extension of the Body of Christ in this world. This is why Catholic ethics are “tough.” The heart of Catholic ethics centers not on forbiddance or restrictions but on dignity, on virtue. This body of mine, as St. Paul says, is not really mine but the Lord’s. We do well to heed this truth and not defile, therefore, the Body of Christ. St. Augustine, to my mind, offered up the greatest expression of the full appreciation of this reality: “Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God’s grace toward us?”