I’ve been reading up on the Eucharist and understand that the Mass has been described as heaven on Earth.
However, I also understand that “nothing unclean can enter heaven” Rev 21:27 (thus, the need for purification/purgatory prior to entrance into Heaven).
So how can we, participants at Mass, truly enter into the Heavenly Liturgy in our sinful states? I don’t believe the Penitential rite cleanses us of our mortal sins…so it’s inadequate to prepare us for the Heavenly Banquet.
I also believe that this teaching regarding mass is not a symbol or metaphor of heaven, or a virtual heaven, but an actual particpation and entrance into heaven…it is real.
But, how can it be that our sinful selves enter into heaven??
Mass is the uniting of the Eucharistic Liturgy being celebrated here and now on earth with the prepetual Eucharistic Liturgy in Heaven. It is the Uniting of Heaven and Earth Mystically. We do not enter Heaven, The angels and Saints however can and do come down here. We can’t see them but it’s “standing room only” wall to wall, floor to ceiling!
This is the way I have explained it to my children. We are still the bride with her veil still covering her face. The brides groom and His family come to us, we cannot see Him (them- all of heaven) clear due to the veil, but they are still there non the less. One day when our Bride groom lifts our veil we will see clearly what we can only feel with our hearts here on earth.
Yes I do, as the Holy Spirit draws us, through Jesus. There are two books I have read that explain.
The Bread of Life - Opening our Hearts to Jesus in the Eucharist. Monsignor David E. Rosage www.wordamongus.org press
I like it best, it is rich and fullfilling. Sorry I haven’t read Scot Hahn’s book yet.
The final chapter of Rosage book;
The Mass; Our Wedding Banquet;
Revelation 19; 5-10
In his explanation he says;" Each Mass takes us to the threshold of heaven, into the vestibule of our eternal union with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."
So what would your interpretation on threshold be?
Doorway? Point of entering?
This is all mystical. We are in Church, and yet in heaven, and at the same time on Calvary and at the empty tomb. We are not “in heaven” yet in the sense that we have left this earthly existence to enjoy the beatific vision, yet we are also in heaven in the sense that we are participating in the heavenly liturgy offered by Christ the eternal High Priest.
Call it a foretaste, or an anticipation, but while are indeed in the heavenly liturgy at Mass in a very real sense, we have not yet completed our pilgrimage and attained our eternal reward which is the context in which “nothing unclean shall enter it” is placed.
I might also add that Jeff Cavins Great Adventure Study of the book of Revelation is a great source to understand how that book of Revelation, is truly about the unveiling of the Bridegroom (Jesus) and the Bride (us, the Church) as well as judgement.
Mass as Heaven on Earth? Heaven comes to us. And, as others mentioned, every angel and saint is there with us - as soon as we start singing the Sanctus (Holy Holy Holy).
No time and space for those with the Lord.
Maybe it would be helpful to remember the deification aspect of salvation, in which we shed our sinful selves and allow God to transform us into His likeness. Deification is a process of self-emptying so that we may be filled by the divine life. The more we grow in virtue and love of God, the more we participate in His nature. This can be carried over into the divine liturgy. The more we are drawn into relationship with God, the more we will be able to participate in the heavenly liturgy.
Someone else pointed out that we are not raised to heaven, but heaven comes down to us and the angels pray with us. One saint had a vision of the angels praying side by side with the people and Jesus blessing all those present.
If we had to be sinless then no one would ever recieve the Eucharist. The prayers of the Maronite liturgy and the Byzantine liturgy speak of the Eucharist as being specifically for the forgiveness of our sins. This is what the Maronite liturgy says,
Make us worthy, O Lord God, to sanctify our bodies with your holy body and to purify our souls with your forgiving blood. May our communion be for the forgiveness of our sins and for eternal life. O Lord our God, to you be glory, for ever.
Within the context of what I was saying above, the very touch of the divine nature is healing. It is as fire that burns away the impurities on a peace of iron. The iron begins to glow and exhibit some of the properties of the fire.
The Maronite liturgy also says,
The heavenly hosts stand with us in the sanctuary. They carry in procession the body of the Son of God, immolated before us. Let us all approach and receive him for the forgiveness of our sins and faults. Alleluia!
May our parents, brothers and sisters, and teachers be commemorated at your altar, O Lord, and may they stand at your right hand on the day of Judgement, O Christ the King, Alleluia!
Blessed is the Lord who gave us his living body and blood that we may find pardon in them. Praised and exalted are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Glory to them for ever and ever. Alleluia!
You can see clearly that the forgiveness of sins is one of the major effects of the Eucharist. I would associate the forgiveness of sins with deification. Through the Eucharist there is a transformation from evil to good. What was sinful is transformed.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t confess your sins before recieviing the Eucharist. There is an ascetical character to deification and we must lay ourselves before God and seek His forgiveness and life. Through the sacrament of penance any disparity between you and the Church or you and your faith is set healed.
I don’t think that is a necessary defense of the Immaculate Conception, afterall it is the touch of the divine nature that would have preserved Mary from sin. It is the nearness of God that heals us. We aren’t healed and then recieve communion with God as an after thought. We recieve communion with God and through that reception we are healed and forgiven.