An event taking place nearly 25 years ago and over 1,400 miles away led me on a journey that has culminated in the Mass Explained blog and the MassExplained iPad app.
My name is Dan Gonzalez and I was born a cradle Catholic and went to public school. Admittedly, I didn’t know too much about my faith. After graduating high-school, I went to pursue a design degree at Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI. While there, I attended a non-denominational Bible study group. Gradually, the group revealed to me that they accepted all denominations but one.
They pointed to verse after verse proving to me that Catholicism was wrong and unbiblical. I couldn’t defend my faith and didn’t have any answers. After not wanting to abandon my faith for theirs, my Bible study friends gradually disowned me. In retrospect, this was the best thing that could have ever happened.
This event in 1989 lit a fire under me. I made a promise to myself to get to the bottom of my faith. I started with a blank slate and asked God to show me the truth. I read every book I could get my hands on. First up, the Bible, twice. The Catechism. Aquinas. Luther. Zwingli. Calvin. Knox. Augustine. Merton. Lewis. Chesterton. Brown. Hahn. Wright. Crossan and more.
Through the Spirit, I came to see that Catholicism IS Biblical Christianity. The Mass, the Liturgy, the Sacraments, the Saints, Marian devotion, the Papacy—this is what the Bible teaches.
After graduating and moving back to Miami, I became involved in several groups: YAMI ( Young Adult Ministry Institute), The Lay Ministry Program in the Archdiocese of Miami, St. Brendan’s Young Adult Group, Catholic Scripture Program at St. Thomas University and I presently co-lead a Bible Study program at my parish.
I also became involved with Amor En Acción (Love in Action), a lay Catholic missionary organization. Through Amor en Acción, I have been able to travel several times to the Dominican Republic to work with the youth and elderly. It has been very impactful.
My experience with these groups revealed a need for catechesis—especially in the area of liturgy. As the Church teaches, the Mass is the source and summit of our faith:
[T]he liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows. For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord’s supper.
(Vat. II Const. on Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, nn. 10)
Many Catholics are easily stupefied (as I was) by groups who play Bible Bingo—that is to take passages out of their proper historical context—and use them to persuade Catholics to leave their faith. One of their prime targets is the Mass.
Objections to the liturgy often take the form of:
- Christ died once and for all, he does not have to be sacrificed again.
- The priest is just a man, how can he claim to be Jesus?
- Catholics believe God is a piece of bread?
- “This is my body, this is my blood.” Jesus was just speaking symbolically at the Last Supper.
- The Bible forbids repetitious prayer and it seems the Catholic Mass is full of them.
Even a cursory understanding of the Catholic Mass, however, will show that these objections are merely misunderstandings. My preliminary research into the Mass quickly revealed the answers to these questions. But more importantly, it opened my eyes to the beauty and majesty of the Mass.
I was awe-struck by its rock-solid, unwavering core, and its gradually-evolving sublime face. Amen, Kyrie Eleison and Agnus Dei—the Mass is a virtual tour of tongues and time-frames. The Hebrews, Greeks and Romans have all pressed their thumbprints into the liturgy.
My research has culminated in the Mass Explained iPad app. It is my hopes that the app resonates particularly with Catholic young adults and college students. They are at a pivotal point—when the faith of their parent’s either becomes their own…or it does not. In her book Forming Intentional Disciples, Sherry Weddell reports that of the Catholics that leave the Church, 80% do so by the time they turn 23. It is my goal to stem this tide through Mass education.
This app was written to myself 25 years ago. This is the information I wish I had known then. The Mass is not an empty, meaningless, man-made ritual, but rather, it is a divinely instituted Sacrament, rooted in Scripture and tempered by tradition. It is the holiest thing we can do on earth. The greatest mystery. The most perfect form of prayer. A most inconceivable act of love!
I firmly believe that if these 80% were aware of what transpires at Mass, they would never leave. They could only echo the words of St. Peter “to whom shall we go?” And what better way to reach this generation of digital natives than through an entertaining iPad app!
This app is not the result of a publisher’s board meeting or an in-depth market analysis, it is purely one person’s act of gratitude and desire to share what he has learned. It was personally funded without help from a parish, archdiocese, corporation or institution. I purposefully turned a blind eye to the budget. I pulled out all the stops to create a beautiful app that would hopefully help people fall in love with the Mass, the One who instituted it, and the Church He founded. I returned my talents to Him. It is the best I could offer, my first-fruits.
It is my hopes that the Mass Explained blog and the MassExplained iPad app will be the seed that falls on good soil, it could be the spark that sets a person on fire for God and His Church.
Now, I’d love to hear from you! If you have any questions about the MassExplained website or iPad app, or if you have any comments or just want to chat, please use the form below. It’ll come directly to me and I’ll be the only one who reads it: