Communicating the Mass to the masses
A sharing from Jes, the graphic designer behind the inspiration of the book 'Mass Communication: Discovering the Beauty of the Catholic Mass'
“When you walk out of those church doors, walk out as a changed person, because the Mass has transformed you.” - one random Mass homily
Those were the wise words of a priest that started my journey in deepening my faith. I had questions and needed answers. I wanted to understand my faith. Too often has the Mass felt like a chore, an obligation to get over and done with during the weekend. More than just pointers on how to live life well, I desired more, I wanted to truly worship God.
Why does the priest wash his hands during the offertory and not before the Mass? Why do the bells ring mid-sentence? Why is the priest suddenly wearing pink?
Slowly but surely, with tidbits of information, the mass started to truly feed my soul and open my heart. Each time I felt distracted I called to mind a visual, or pick phases to repeat and reflect on. I wanted Jesus to transform me before I went back home regardless whether I felt it or not.
One day, at the sign of peace during a wedding mass, I vividly remember turning around to see rather bewildered faces of young non-catholic students who didn't quite know what to do. I smiled and nodded in the friendliest way I could before wondering to myself how I could explain the Mass so they wouldn't feel so awkward in this setting.
I started to desire to help other Catholics see just how rich and beautiful the Mass is. I felt that as Catholics, we need to remember and re-communicate the Mass to the technologically-savvy and visually-driven generation, to allow them to understand the simplicity and depth of this experience.
Hence, Mass Communication was born. We sought to communicate the Mass to the masses.
We wanted to highlights aspects of the Mass that we might not have noticed before, like the biblical references, symbols, and historical traditions. As a graphic designer by training, I prefer full-colour picture books to thick intimidating textbooks. The words looked so rich and carefully chosen but I simply could not appreciate these intricacies. I knew things connected, but I just couldn’t visualise it, as a lover of infographics it truly frustrated me.
(Pictured: my very grand plan of what I wanted to do)
I gathered together 6 other friends who shared this passion, dreamt the same dream and wrote much better than I could. I also approached a priest to read through our content so it would be theologically sound before we shared it. Together, the 8 of us worked to churn out infographics every week from Easter 2015 to Easter 2016.
Besides the main infographics, we also wanted to bring in a personal element to the project, we invited several people to share their encounters, revelations and their artful expressions (images, songs and comics even!) on different parts of the Mass. It was beautiful and a real grace to be able to pull everything together.
Eventually, we compiled into a book in 2018. It was difficult to manage this alongside the many other commitments in life but we held out because we had one goal - to help others draw closer to God.
We thank God for all the guidance and inspiration and praise the Lord for using us as His instruments. Without Him, we wouldn't have been able to do anything.
We hope this book renews the way we see the Mass and dispose us to participate more fully and worship more joyfully. From here, we hope people will move on to thicker textbooks, videos, and other resources to gain a deeper understanding of our faith and better explain to those who are unfamiliar or confused by what we believe in.
At weddings, baptisms, confirmations, or catechism classes, we hope you can pass it on and help others appreciate the Mass and more. Imagine a Church so deeply in love with God “Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?” (Lk 24:32)
What an amazing testimony of love that would be!