With I title like that I must give a disclaimer: This post does not pretend to be an exhaustive account as to why the Mass is the pinnacle of human prayer; it's simply a brief reflection sparked by a message I received from a close friend. She visited an Assembly of God church over the weekend and wrote to tell me, "There was definitely a feeling of community in the building. However, as much as I've thought about checking out other churches, something just seemed to be missing. I realize a church is so much more than the building. But, even though the service was nice and the contemporary music and interpretations of scripture into songs, it just wasn't the same. I found myself missing my Catholic heritage and the comfort I have found in our church. It certainly wasn't a bad experience, but it was eye opening."
First thing I should tell you is that my friend is very deep. I spent time in a non-denominational, charismatic church as a teen; and it took quite awhile for me to realize that I received "something" at Mass that I couldn't get anywhere else, no matter how sincere the worship. What was that?
In the Mass we enter into Jesus' offering to the Father, the pinnacle of human prayer. When we receive Him in Communion we are united to Him in His death, resurrection, and ascension. With Him, we enter into the bosom of the Father, pouring ourselves out in grateful love.
In the non-denominational church I attended for a time the focus was upon the proclamation of God's word. And the preaching was exciting and I profited from it a great deal. But that was the height of the service. We heard the word - live as images of Christ Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit; but we didn't take that next step that we do at Mass - entering into the Passover of Christ. We didn't receive the Word Made Flesh in Eucharistic Communion!
In Mass there are two movements, not just one. We have the Liturgy of the Word, where we hear the Word proclaimed in Scripture and take it into ourselves. But then in the Liturgy of the Eucharist we respond to the Word, we unite ourselves to Jesus and pour ourselves out to the Father in a return of love - and in the process we're filled again with the Flesh and Blood of the God-Man. We're participating in the Trinitarian Life - by the grace of God simultaneously giving and receiving.