I have attended innumerable Eucharistic celebrations since my baptism at age sixteen, and over the years, attending Mass had become somewhat of a routine. The most important reasons for me to attend the Mass were to observe the Sabbath requirement in the Ten Commandments and to receive the body and blood of Christ. I never understood the liturgical processes of a Mass, and had never thought about whether God is present in a Mass.
Seven years ago, God led me to relocate from Taiwan all the way to
San Jose, and I became a member of the San Jose Chinese Catholic Community (SJCCC). At SJCCC, I met many lay people who dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to serve the church community. This inspired me to seek faith more deeply by attending Bible study sessions and charismatic prayer meetings. However, despite more active participation in church activities, my perspective towards Mass still did not change, and the only difference was that the beautiful voices from the choir frequently drew me into the spirit of praising and worshiping. A little over a year ago, I joined the liturgy group, which was responsible for the preparation of the bread and wine, and for arranging families to make the offering of gifts. While serving in the Mass, I began to understand more about the liturgy and slowly began to sense God’s presence in each Mass.
During the Easter Vigil, we had a multi-lingual Mass with the English, Chinese, Spanish, and Portuguese communities celebrating together. When I arrived at the church, all the seats were already taken. Fortunately, I found a seat in the side room of the church by the Tabernacle. People continued to pour into the church, and even though ushers brought in many temporary chairs, there were still not enough. Since many people could not find seats, they began to just stand in the aisles.
Before the Mass began, I realized a serious problem: there were two people standing in front of the glass windows separating the main hall from the side room that I was in. They were standing directly in front of me, completely obscuring my view of the altar. Mass was about to begin, but I still could not see the altar, and so I became increasingly worried and agitated. I have waited a whole year to attend the Easter Vigil and did not wish to miss any part of it! How was I to experience this most important Mass of the year, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, without the ability to see the altar?
I kept feeling the urge to get up and ask the two of them to move. I even took my first step and got up twice but backed down both times, because I realized that they had no place else to go. At least I had a place to sit and they didn’t, so what right did I have to ask them to move? Others around me also had their views of the altar blocked, and although they seemed irritated, it did not appear that they would do anything about it. I thought about giving my seat to them, but as there were two of them, and I only have one seat.
I struggled like this for about 20 minutes, my mind completely distracted from the Mass. Suddenly, I thought, why not offer this to God? He is an all-powerful God, and must have the wisdom to solve this problem without unfairly treating any of His people who came to worship Him. Therefore, I bowed my head down to pray, totally yielding to God. Immediately, I sensed a complete peace and joy in my heart, and I was able to return my focus to the Mass in progress. In less than one minute, one of these two suddenly walked to the front row and sat down. I had no idea how this empty seat came about since the church was completely full even before the Mass started. If there were empty seats, how come nobody saw it earlier? In another minute, the other one also sat down, sharing a chair with her friend. I was able to see the altar clearly again!
I was filled with joy in my heart! Our dear God is really the living God! He listens to our prayers. This experience gave me a stronger sense of God’s presence in a Mass. I felt embarrassed that I did not pay much attention when I attended Mass previously. I wanted to share this experience with everyone, so we can all participate in Mass wholeheartedly, to worship our God with our whole mind, as we receive the Sacrament of Eucharist which He established for us.
Keyword: Word Became Flesh