Adoration is the first act of the virtue of religion. To adore
God is to acknowledge Him as God, as the Creator and Saviour,
the Lord and Master of everything that exists, as infinite and
merciful Love. "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him
only shall you serve," says Jesus, citing Deuteronomy.
This paragraph from the Catechism is taken from the section on the moral life that deals with the First Commandment: "You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve." It is particularly appropriate for this paragraph to be considered in a discussion of the Mass, because the primary vehicle that the Lord Jesus has given to the Church for the worship of God is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In this celebration, we join together as the People of God to worship and adore the Holy One in our midst, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Our whole orientation during the Mass should be one of worship, as we join together to fulfill that most basic and fundamental Commandment.
However, in the years since the Second Vatican Council, there
has been a gradual shift in many quarters from this fundamental
orientation toward the worship of God as the heart of our gathering
together, to an orientation toward the people as the focus. This
has been described, in technical terms, as a paradigm shift from
the theocentric to the anthropocentric. This shift reflects a
common trend in society, the glorification of the human being
as the center. This shift, however, is not shared by the Magisterium
of the Church. For Catholics (as should be for all people), the
center will always be the Lord God, and the position of the Church
will always be that the role of the people in the Mass is to worship
the Lord our God. In the Mass, God sanctifies us as we worship
Him--His role is to sanctify, our role is to worship. This is
beautifully summarized in paragraph 1325 of the Catechism:
"The Eucharist is
the culmination both of God's action
sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to
Christ and through Him to the Father in the Holy Spirit."
It is crucial that we as faithful Catholics resist this tug from the world to put man at the center, especially where the heart of our spiritual life is concerned. That this tug is very present and pervasive is indicated by the number of folks who, when asked why they no longer attend Mass, respond: "I don't get anything out of it." As if the Mass were some show, or event where people went to be entertained, instead of the place where people go to worship God. There is, of course, much that we do in fact get out of it--we receive the Word of God and we receive the great gift of the reception of the Eucharistic Lord. There is, obviously, much that we get out of it, but our attitude toward the Mass needs to continue to be that we are there to worship. It is perfectly revelatory of the Father's heart that in the very act of our gathering together to worship Him, He so feeds and nourishes us. Let us be grateful for the endless bounty of His love, and worship Him as He deserves.