To strip the spiritual reality from the outward expression makes the Mass nothing more than a gathering of inanimate objects & people. As a Protestant, I was heavily indoctrinated to believe the church was just a building & the pastor was just a guy who graduated from seminary. The presence of God was “out there” somewhere until 2 or 3 of us gathered. And even so, God only came at our bidding. So we prayed & sang till we laughed or cried in order to “lure” Him in. The bread & the wine (or in this case, the saltine fragment & grape juice) were the same whether they come from the foot of the altar or the grocery store. We only partook once a quarter for the sake of symbolism, nothing more.
In the Mass, we don't gather to try & attract God to us. We go to Him. He is present in the building before, during & after our activities there. We approach with this understanding by showing reverence toward the altar & signing ourselves with the cross & with water to remind us of our baptism. We come to God acknowledging our faults, thanking Him for His salvation, and committing to following Him after hearing the Word. He freely feeds us with Bread & Wine, Word & Spirit, Body & Blood, that we may be sustained on our journey. Sure, many times we leave like any other Christian with our car keys & bulletins in hand, but we also leave with Christ in us, “the Hope of Glory”. Lord, I am Catholic for a reason. Help me remember why.