In this blog, I will continue to post excerpts from my, TRANSFORMED BY CHRIST series–each post is dedicated to issues important to the Roman Catholic faith. In this current blog stream, I will examine the important question: Why bother going to Mass?
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WHY BOTHER GOING TO MASS?
*** Note, this topic stream continues to apply to all Catholics, yet at the time of this posting, the 2020 coronavirus crisis has remained active, with Cardinals and Bishops offering dispensations to Catholics who cannot attend Mass until the health crisis passes.
Have you ever wondered why the Roman Catholic Church holds the Mass as an essential part of our lives? Do you find it a waste of time to attend? In this piece, we offer important reasons to go to Mass every Sunday (and on Holy Days of Obligation). We include fictional accounts to highlight real-world examples of individuals who struggle with this topic. Please keep in mind this volume is intended to help Catholics who see no value in attending Mass, though those in other denominations may gain benefit from this work.
As we journey through this paper, please recall that attendance at Sunday Mass is not for God’s benefit; instead, the Lord gave us the Mass for our spiritual enrichment. As the Sabbath was given by God for the benefit of the Jews, the Mass is given by God (Jesus) for our benefit.
Let us examine some of the reasons. We hope and pray this work will be a blessing to you.
A FATHER WHO DID NOT CARE
Jeff, a husband and father, cared little about the spiritual welfare of his family—he cared much more about his selfish desires to eat junk food, enjoy his expensive home theater, and watching hours of sports on television. He had chosen his life desires, his things over God, and had lied to Gloria, his wife, when he claimed he had things he needed to do that were more important than attending Mass, yet he wanted his family to attend without him.
As a Roman Catholic, Jeff knew not attending Mass on Sunday without a good reason was a mortal sin, he did not care (or perhaps he did not believe it). Jeff was experiencing a weakening of faith — and he did not understand that he was teaching his children to not respect God or the Church. Jeff did not choose spiritual leadership by attending Mass with his family; instead, he gave the message to his children they must do as he says and not as he does — that it was okay for him to miss Mass, but not them.
We see in Jeff, a father who had ignored the spiritual wellbeing of his children. Parents are to teach their children the faith; however, Jeff did not care enough to take that responsibility upon himself. His children might take his lukewarm attitude to adulthood, feeling apathetic about matters of faith and church since Jeff refused to take an interest. Fathers play a critical role in a child’s faith development — many parents do not understand their children are watching, they can see their parent’s priorities.
Barring a significant reason, Catholics must go to Mass every Sunday and on every Holy Day of Obligation. When Catholics do not attend Mass on those days, they commit grave (mortal) sin. Many reject those directives; however, Catholics and Christians from all denominations would do well to read this paper to discover reasons they should attend Mass or services in their church.
THE LORD’S DAY OVER THE SABBATH
There is within Christianity places of worship that have rejected the Lord’s Day as a valid New Covenant replacement for the Sabbath; however, Christians from the earliest days of the Church observed Sunday as the Lord’s Day. Some converts to the early Church observed both the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day; however, those people were Jewish converts who mistakenly believed they remained bound to the Jewish Sabbath. Let’s consider some of the underlying meanings behind the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day.
Observance of the Sabbath is a Biblical mandate for Jewish people. Orthodox Jews continue to observe the Sabbath — it falls on the seventh day of each week (Saturday) beginning sundown on Friday and ending the following night (Saturday). It is a day of rest, and the day recalls the Biblical Creation account, during which God created everything in six days and rested on the seventh. God placed the observance of the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments. It is intended as a day of spiritual renewal — it was established to allow man to rest and dedicate time to worship the Lord. Jesus spoke of the Sabbath in the following passage:
And he said to them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath; so the Son of man is lord even of the sabbath.” [Mark 2:27-28; RSVE, italics added]
THE LORD’S DAY
For Christians, the observance of the Sabbath was replaced by the Lord’s Day, as a memorial of Jesus’ Resurrection. Worship on that day has Biblical support; however, there are important reasons for observing the Sabbath that also apply to the Lord’s Day, as follows: 1. For rest. 2. To provide regular weekly worship to God. 3. To commemorate what God (Jesus) has done for us. Please consider the words of Jesus regarding the Sabbath.
In the Mark passage (previous page), we see Jesus providing the proper interpretation and meaning of the Sabbath: it was made for man. There are times during which the Lord appeared to have broken Sabbath laws, yet during those times, Christ always gave the proper meaning. From this comes an obvious question: Why did the Church change the weekly observance of the Sabbath to the Lord’s Day?
- In the New Testament, Jesus spoke of the need to follow the Ten Commandments, yet He did not talk about the requirement to keep the Sabbath. A reason for this is that Christians are followers of Christ, they are free from the ritual observance of the Law.
- The Bible reveals the early Christians gathered on the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day, as the following passages demonstrate:
On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them,… [Acts 20:7 RSV-CE]
On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that contributions need not be made when I come. [1 Corinthians 16:2 RSV-CE]
- The Didache, along with the early Church fathers, taught the Lord’s Day replaced the Sabbath:
“Assemble on the Lord’s day, and break bread and offer the Eucharist; but first make confession of your faults, so that your sacrifice may be a pure one. [Didache, AD. 70]
“If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day,… [Ignatius, A.D. 110]
On the first day of the week let there be service,
[Sacrifice of the Mass –Didascalia A.D. 225]
Sunday was always the day of worship for Christians. The intent of this paper is not to enter a full discussion of every topic; instead, we intend to provide general facts on each issue with supporting documents and resources for those interested in making a more detailed study.
This discussion continues in part two of this topic stream.
Thank you for reading,
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 Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition
 Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition.
 The Didache is also known as the “Teachings of the Apostles,” and is the earliest known document dealing with liturgical, Church and faith matters, a near first Catechism.