It is ironic that today, with all of the freedom of religion that we enjoy in the United States, many of us wonder why we must go to Mass on Sunday.
However, if we really understood what the Mass is and how we participate in the celebration, we would instead be asking why we are, as sinful human beings, blessed with the opportunity to participate in the holy Mass. If we simply understood and recognized that God’s infinite goodness allows us to do so, we would be eager to go to Mass on Sunday and every other day of the week.
It is true, however, that all Catholics are obliged to “Keep holy the Lord’s Day” by sharing in the Mass. But why are we obliged?
The Eucharistic Liturgy is the center of our faith. It is “the summit toward which all activity of the Church is directed” and it is “the font from which all her power flows” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy 10). It does not exhaust the activity of the Church, but is most certainly her greatest work.
The sacrifice of Christ on the cross is literally re-presented to the Father during Mass, and Christ allows us to join with Him in offering that sacrifice. Imagine our Lord and Savior dying on the cross for us right up the street. Imagine knowing that Mary is sitting at the foot of the cross with St. John, witnessing her Son giving Himself to the Father for the sake of all of us. Would we not run to be there? Would we not desire to share in His sacrifice, just as Mary did?
Believe it or not, the sacrifice of Calvary is really, truly happening at our parish, every time the Mass is offered.
Our participation in Mass gives us the strength and the graces we need to live our lives as Christ’s disciples. So, what does this mean for us?
This means we have a front row seat to the sacrifice of Calvary. Given such a gift, how can we not accept it?
We also have a chance to join in Jesus’ sacrifice by offering our own prayers and petitions. As an example, what better gift could we give deceased loved ones than the offering of prayers for their souls in purgatory?
Most importantly, we have the opportunity to receive the Eucharist, followed by quiet time, when we offer sincere thanks and allow God’s graces to fill us. Think of all you are missing when you do not properly prepare yourself to receive the Holy Eucharist.
We ought to joyfully head to Church each Sunday, eager to give God glory in the greatest way we can! Attending and actively participating in Mass every Sunday is our obligation as Catholics. But we should not allow the fact that our attendance is “required” to stop us from going. Nor should we allow our laziness to overshadow the amazing privilege and the many blessings that lay before us in the Mass.
The pope and the bishops direct us to participate in the Eucharistic Liturgy every Sunday because they know there is no better way to keep holy the Lord’s day — giving God thanks for all He has done for us in the most powerful way possible. They know that, through the Mass, we gain the graces necessary to live our lives in this world.
Our ability to participate in the Mass is a wonderful gift, not a great burden. May Christ enlighten our minds and hearts to clearly see the wonders of the celebration, and give us great enthusiasm and eagerness to participate.