Do you say you are 'going to Mass' or do you say you are 'going to have a personal and intimate encounter with Jesus'?

"Do we come to Mass with a desire and expectation of a personal and intimate encounter with Jesus, an encounter that can be life changing and life transforming? 

Bishop Gruss asked this question during First Friday at the Cathedral on Friday, Sept. 2.

"As believers, we have an obligation to share this beautiful message with Catholics, especially those who don’t come to Mass." Bishop Gruss went on the say that all Catholics are evangelizers by virtue of their baptism.

At First Friday, local faithful gathered with Bishop Gruss at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption in Saginaw for Mass followed by lunch and an informal talk. 

Bishop Gruss began his talk by reminding the faithful that the Eucharist is the beating heart of the Church and it (the Eucharist) distinguishes the Catholic Church from all other Christian denominations. Bishop Gruss also reminded those present that the Eucharist is a person (Jesus). 

Pope Francis on Mass and the Eucharist

Bishop Gruss shared several quotes from Pope Francis, particularly from the Holy Father's recent Apostolic Letter titled “Desiderio Desideravi” (“I have earnestly desired”). The letter was released June 29.  

Bishop Gruss discussed section 6 of Pope Francis' letter which says: 

6. Before our response to his invitation — well before! — there is his desire for us. We may not even be aware of it, but every time we go to Mass, the first reason is that we are drawn there by his desire for us. For our part, the possible response — which is also the most demanding asceticism — is, as always, that surrender to this love, that letting ourselves be drawn by him. Indeed, every reception of communion of the Body and Blood of Christ was already desired by him in the Last Supper."

Bishop Gruss recommended that everyone read Pope Francis' letter. 

The Sacraments are encounters with Jesus

Bishop Gruss then shared a message he has shared throughout his ministry in the Diocese of Saginaw: the sacraments are not "events" to attend, but rather personal and intimate encounters with Jesus. 

"The problem with seeing the sacraments as events is that with events, we are acting as spectators," Bishop Gruss said. "People who are bored at Mass stop going because they are not engaged. Being fully engaged is important.

"We must teach our kids that at Mass, we are going to encounter Jesus. The language we use to describe the sacraments affects how people see the sacraments. We must teach young people that the sacraments are a personal encounter with Jesus."  

Bishop Gruss went on to discuss the ideal disposition as we prepare for Mass asking, "Do we come to Mass with a desire and expectation of a personal and intimate encounter with Jesus, an encounter that can be life changing and life transforming? It matters where are hearts are when we come through the doors of the Church."

Entering the sacred

Bishop Gruss then said, "When we walk through the doors of church, we leave the secular space of the world behind and enter the sacred (spiritual). Therefore, we must have a transition in our hearts."

It's powerful, said Andrew Yaworski, a parishioner from All Saints Parish in Bay City. "[Bishop Gruss] started talking about attending Mass versus going to encounter Christ. It was a powerful message of that intimate relationship with us that Christ desires and loves us.  

"I feel like I have an improved understanding and better focus. Hopefully, it will help me to adore Jesus. This will hopefully help me treat the church as a sacred place for this loving relationship with the Lord. I’m looking forward to sharing [Bishop Gruss'] talk with others." 

Andrew Yaworski- a parishioner from All Saints Parish, Bay City
Andrew Yaworski- a parishioner from All Saints Parish, Bay City 

Bishop Gruss will speak about the Eucharist at each First Friday during the first year of the National Eucharistic Revival. 

Save your spot and register now for First Friday on Oct. 7. 

See Bishop Gruss' list of recommended books about the Eucharist

Learn more about the National Eucharistic Revival here. 

Full video of Bishop Gruss' talk at the Cathedral on Friday, Sept. 2

Bishop Gruss’ Homily during First Friday Mass 

Bishop Gruss discussed how “True freedom comes from surrendering our lives to the Holy Spirit. May we pray for the grace to be open to the Holy Spirit in our lives.”