Ever wonder why we don’t drink coffee and eat donuts at Mass?
First of all, because of our Eucharistic fast. Canon Law requires abstaining from food or drink (with the exception of water and medicine) for at least one hour before Holy Communion. The Eucharistic fast has its roots in both Judaism and the ancient tradition of our Church. In Acts of the Apostles (13:2), we find evidence of fasting connected with the liturgy. St. Augustine talks about it in his own writings during the 4th Century. But, no coffee and donuts at Mass goes much deeper than rules and customs. It goes to the core of who we are, and why we are at Mass.
We are a nation of priests (1 Peter 2:9). When you were baptized, you were anointed with Sacred Chrism. While placing the chrism on your head, the priest or deacon or bishop said, “I anoint you as priest, prophet, and king.” To understand the meaning of that, we need to understand a little about priesthood theology. Jesus is the Great Priest and the High Priest. There is only One Priest: Jesus Christ. However, Jesus extends His priesthood to ministerial priests. That would be Fr. Todd and Fr. Tomy. Jesus gave them the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands by the bishop when they were commissioned (ordained). Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, who handed it to the bishops down the line over the past 2000 years, who hand it down to the ministerial priests. So, Fr. Todd and Fr. Tomy are able to, with Jesus, offer up the sacrifice of Jesus to the Father through the Holy Spirit. Through your baptism, you are consecrated as a kingdom priest. That means you also share in the one priesthood of Jesus Christ. As a kingdom priest, you are able to offer up sacrifices. Not just in your daily life, but also at Mass.
The problem is, many of us show up on Sunday to just “watch” the Mass. We waste our priesthood. We look at the ministerial priest and say, “He’s the one who’s praying and doing all the work, so we just need to watch.” But, if we think that worship at Mass means simply to show up and watch the priest pray, then it really doesn’t matter if we bring our Starbucks and scone to church. But, that’s not what worship means. Worship means we are fully engaged and actively participating in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We sing, we pray in dialogue with the priest, and we share in the Eucharist together as the Body of Christ. Full and active participation means we embrace our kingdom priesthood, and along with the ministerial priest, united with the One High Priest, Jesus Christ, we offer up the sacrifice of the Son to the Father, through the Holy Spirit.
Drinking coffee and eating donuts may be the latest trend in some churches to bring people in on Sunday morning. So, why not Catholics? Because, through our Baptism we share in the priesthood with Jesus. We are not at Mass to just watch and be entertained. We are at Mass to fully participate in the worship of God as kingdom priests.
Adapted from “Why we don’t drink coffee at Mass” video by Fr Mike Schmitz