Last fall, I did something I hadn’t done in 48 years  I appeared in a play.
Never mind the whim that led me to audition for a part in Reginald Rose’s jury room drama “Twelve Angry Men.”
The point is that I auditioned, got a part  Juror No. 4  and then had to face the realities of actually performing the role.
The plot is well known: a young man is accused of having stabbed his father to death, and the jury begins its deliberations with 11 men already decided on a guilty verdict and one who isn’t so sure.
We conducted our last few rehearsals on the completed set, and then performed the play before audiences four times.
The director instructed us that when we entered the jury room at the beginning of the play, we were to act as if we had never seen it before.
Likewise, when each of us heard the others’ lines, it had to appear as if we had never heard them before.
Of course, we had, so this took some concentration.
The experience made me sensitive to the accomplishment of real actors who sometimes perform the same role hundreds of times, perhaps eight times a week, and must always appear as if everything was happening for the first time.
And that train of thought brought me to ruminate about the Mass, which practicing Catholics have experienced hundreds and even thousands of times.
How is it possible for the celebrant and the other ministers and for everyone in the assembly to experience this event with fresh eyes and ears and, more importantly, with a fresh spirit?
This question had certainly applied to me personally. Not only have I walked through more than one Mass on auto pilot, I have often enough blanked out during the liturgy and suddenly came to my senses and wondered what I had failed to say or do while I was “away.”
But these episodes do serve a purpose: they abruptly remind me not only that there is a ritual under way in which I am supposed to be playing an attentive part, but also that the ritual is the proclamation of God’s word and the celebration of the Eucharist.
If God is present in his word, if the body and blood of Jesus is made present  really, literally made present on the altar, if I believe those things, then the Mass should seem new to me no matter how many times I take part in it.
OK, enough with the self criticism.
Actually, during this Easter season I am wide awake to this amazing truth of our Catholic faith. I keep thinking about the hymn “How Great Thou Art” in which we sing, “And when I think that God, his Son not sparing, sent him to die, I scarce can take it in.”
Doesn’t that last phrase apply as well to the great gift that came to us through the death, and the resurrection, of the Son of God?
When we are at Mass and the body and blood of the risen Jesus become present to us, intimately part of our lives at that moment, what should our reaction be: “One more Sunday obligation fulfilled,” or, “I scarce can take it in”?