“Mass is boring.” “I don’t get anything out of Mass—why should I go?” “Why can’t I just pray alone?” How often have we heard these comments from our family members, friends, or neighbors? How should we respond?
The Catholic Church tells us that we have an obligation to go to Mass every Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation unless we are ill, aged, or shut-in. This is not to be taken lightly. Most of us do this willingly, but many people don’t understand why the Church requires this of us. In the Third Commandment, God tells us to “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.” The Church tells us that we have an obligation to fulfill the Third Commandment by refraining from unnecessary work on Sunday and by participating in the Mass, our chief form of worship as Christians, either Saturday evening or Sunday. A wedding or funeral on a Saturday does not take the place of the weekly obligation to attend Mass.
Private Worship Is Not Enough. From the earliest days of the Church, Christians have understood that being a Christian isn’t a private matter. We are called to be Christians together; while we can and should engage in the private worship of God throughout the week, our primary form of worship is public and communal, which is why Sunday Mass is so important. To skip Mass, especially on a regular basis, is to show contempt for the Church and her laws.
At Mass God is able to talk to us in a way that we will not find anywhere else. Through the prayers of the Mass itself, the scripture readings, and the homily, God is able to help, encourage, and instruct us in a unique and personal way. How often have you come away from Mass with a particular thought or phrase going through your mind, which usually and not surprisingly applies to something that is going on in your life at that time? That is God speaking to you!
Mass is the only opportunity we get to receive the actual Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. This is not simply a memorial of the Last Supper. The host we receive is not a rite of remembrance but the most real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Once again, Jesus said very clearly in John 6:53, 55-57: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.... My flesh is true food and My blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in Me and I in him....who feeds on me will have life because of Me.”
I have heard many Catholics say that they can worship God just as well while strolling in the woods or seated in some quiet place. This is true enough in its way, but when you ask them when was the last time they strolled in the woods for an hour worshipping God, the chances are there would be no answer. In what woods could a priest be found ready and able to feed you with the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ?
We should look forward to spending at least one hour a week giving thanks to God for all that He has given us. I consider my parish my “Church family.” I miss seeing my Church family members when I go to Mass elsewhere. The bond of Holy Communion that is created when we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ with the other members of our parish community is what makes us the Body of Christ. In this celebration of the Mass, we are united with God our Father and Jesus our Brother, as well as all of God’s children.