By Sister Mary Louise, O.C.D.

It started out like any other sixth grade Social Studies class. Studying ancient civilization, I was introducing my students to the epic of Beowulf and the legendary exploits of Gilgamesh. I touched briefly on what I expected them to learn about epics in general: a poetic account of the heroic accomplishments of a figure who overcomes impossible situations at the peril of his life. A few more questions from the children and we would move on to the next subject. Or so I thought.

That is when her hand went up. Angela had made a connection and wanted to share it with the class. I was not at all expecting the profound wisdom she presented at that moment.

“So, Sister, the Mass is basically an epic?”

Mass? Had I said anything about Mass? It took me a moment to move from the details of ancient Sumerian history to where she had so easily gone. But as her question sank in, it was as if a new panoramic view of something previously quite familiar spread before me.

The Mass as a poetic account? To be sure! Relaying heroic accomplishments? Making them actually present! A figure overcoming impossible situations? Even sin and death! At the peril of His life? This is my Body given up for you. Yes, Angela, the Mass is the quintessential epic.

As a teacher, that moment when a student made connections across several subjects was exhilarating. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, her insight into the awesome beauty of the Mass was transformative, even epic.

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