Starting on the first Saturday of Lent, Feb. 17, Church of the Incarnation will be adding two new Mass times to the liturgical schedule: Fridays at 5 p.m. and Saturdays at 12:05 p.m.
Fr. Thomas More Barba, University of Dallas chaplain whose idea it was to add the new Mass times, spoke about his vision behind adding them as a desire to “make the liturgical year more accessible.”
“I was very excited,” said Junior Katie Tweedle, when asked what she thought when she heard the news, “I’ll definitely be attending [the Saturday noon Mass] pretty regularly.”
Freshman Greg Vanderheiden expressed interest in the Friday evening Mass. “If they’re having Mass on Fridays I will definitely go,” Vanderheiden said.
“When there was the liturgical reform after Vatican II, one of the things the council fathers wanted was us to experience the full cycle of the liturgical year, both with the readings and the lives of the saints that we celebrate throughout the year,” said Barba. “Like today [Saturday] is the feast of St. Blaise; if we didn’t have Mass today we wouldn’t be celebrating his day here, locally.”
Barba was aware of the desire for a Friday evening Mass, both from what he has heard from students and professors, and on a personal level. When he was a student here eight years ago, this Mass wasn’t offered, and was disappointed when he had class at noon on Fridays and couldn’t attend daily Mass.
He’s also aware that we don’t want to trivialize the sacraments by overusing them:
“I take the concern seriously, but I think these are reasonable requests by students, professors, and the lay faithful that are not connected to UD, [to have more Mass times],” he said.
While Barba is planning for the additions to last into the foreseeable future, he had great advice on the importance of attending daily Mass during Lent, which also applies to daily Mass in general.
“There’s a unity of the mind and heart that Lent should call us to focus on,” Barba said.“Yes, there’s an obligation, but sunday obligation and Lent fasting, that is an obligation born of love. Lent should be a time when Christ asks us, ‘Do you love me?’ and our response is not just verbal, but active–coming back to the Eucharist. We need to be spiritually nourished, not only to receive the body and blood of the Lord, but to hear the word broken open, made relevant in our lives, and then to take what we celebrate into our lives when we leave the church.”
He said that a complaint he hears often is a dry prayer life, and explained that one of the ways to fix that is to live the sacraments more fully in our lives.
“We take the nourishment that we receive and we let it become a directing and guiding force.”
Fr. Thomas Esposito, Cistercian priest and assistant professor, also had some thoughts on the importance of attending daily Mass during Lent.
“Lent is a time of purification and an opportunity to rededicate yourself to your faith, and to walk in the footsteps of Jesus,” Esposito said. “I think daily Mass gives us the opportunity to focus at a specific time every day on that.”
UD students should know“how much God loves them,” Barba said, “It seems cliche and perhaps it has become cliche, but everything that we receive is a generous and gratuitous gift from God: the sacraments, God’s mercy, his body, and the blood of His Son, his abiding presence in the Eucharist — all of these things are reminders of his love for us. God loves you, you are loved, and you are called to show that love to others… and It’s not our love, it’s us being icons of His love.”
Vanderheiden says that daily Mass is a way he keeps God a priority in his life.
“The main reason [I go to Mass] though is because that’s where I get the Eucharist,” Vanderheiden explained. “Being able to receive Jesus everyday is such a blessing and I’m not going to miss it.”
More would not have been able to make this happen without the help of the Cistercian priests, three of which are going to rotate through once a month for the Friday evening Mass. For now, it’s just More on Saturdays.
“It’s the most perfect thing you could incorporate into your life,” Tweedle said. “There’s literally nothing better you could be doing with your time. The more Masses that are celebrated, the better our whole community will be.”